Fill Me In
A virtual dialogue organised by the National Youth Council provided a platform for concerns raised by young people over employment. The dialogue session was held as part of the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESC), a government initiative that has been taking place since June.
Tell me more.
The series of conversations are aimed at acknowledging the multifaceted impact of the pandemic and considering Singapore’s next steps. Currently, 11 virtual sessions and SG Together ESC surveys have taken place on two apps: LifeSG and Oneservice, with more to come.
What were the topics covered?
Around 120 young people participated in the dialogue with ministers and other office-holders, discussing three key topics: jobs and the future of work, support for vulnerable groups, environment and sustainability.
The youth involved responded positively to the call for action which included proposing to set up more farms to ensure food sustainability, increasing internship opportunities, and reaching out to vulnerable groups to support them during this time.
Can I take part?
The event is open to citizens and permanent residents, and the conversations will be held in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English, giving participants a platform to speak out on ways to create a post-pandemic society that is more inclusive, caring, and resilient.
What’s been discussed so far?
Ms Aqilah Diyanah Parvin Ah is a 20-year-old Institute of Technical Education student who is worried about how she and her peers will find employment, given the economic downturn due to the pandemic. In an interview with The Straits Times, Ms Aqilah mentioned that one main worry for youths on job hunts is how companies are incessantly looking for candidates with job experience — despite fresh graduates applying, armed with degrees and diplomas. “But it’s really hard to get the experience that you need,” she said.
Mr Mohamed Rudy Abdul Hamid is a 31-year-old senior social service executive who notes that the dialogue raised issues but also discussed what can be done moving forward. “Not just far fetched ideas, but really practical and realistic ideas, and seeing how we can put them into action,” he mentioned.
Under his small group discussion, one participant suggested providing more opportunities for work exposure and internships to students earlier on in life, such as in secondary school. Mr Rudy’s personal internship experiences have helped shape him into who he is today, and what he’d like to pursue. Early exposure can help in developing character and assisting students in realising the career path they would like to pursue. When speaking about early workforce exposure, Mr Rudy said: “I think that goes a long way. If I had such an opportunity back in school, I would definitely grab it.”
Sounds positive, what else?
Ms Cheo Pei Rong, 31, is a group facilitator in the discussions. She said that it was very encouraging to see the young with such a strong desire to put things into action. The senior manager at the National Parks Board said: “Youths want to see things grow, they want to see things happen, and they want to be part of that.” Her group had a discussion regarding local food production, and how to increase it. Participants suggested better marketing for local produce to increase popularity, and in turn, demand, to drive sales.
Who was involved?
The session was hosted by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong. Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence, Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development, Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Home Affairs and Sustainability and the Environment, Desmond Tan, and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, Eric Chua also attended the dialogue.
Is there more to come?
At the end of the session, Mr Tong encouraged participants to exchange contacts and to grow their ideas into feasible developments. “Then, come back and share your ideas with us,” he said, about the Youth Action Challenge.
The Youth Action Challenge is an event organised by the National Youth Council and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, which starts in October. Part of the SG Youth Action Plan, the initiative gathers young people to come up with creative projects along with several themes and provides support by giving access to resources, funding, and mentorship. It is open to all youth aged 15 to 35 years old, and all teams with good ideas will receive support to see their projects come to life.