More than 200 nominations received for the first national youth volunteer programme

The new volunteer youth corps has received more than 200 nominations for its first batch this year, surpassing its target number of volunteers of 200.

The nominations came from institutes of higher learning such as the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics, as well as community organisations such as Singapore Indian Development Association and Mendaki.

Recruitment for the one-year programme, known as Youth Corps Singapore, began in February this year and the first intake will start training in June.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said on Wednesday that the programme is about taking a "life-cycle approach" to youth development, so that students can can still take part in community projects after leaving their secondary schools and moving onto tertiary institutions.

"We're building up a full suite of programmes from schools to tertiary institutions and even at the workplace, so that we can encourage this whole culture of volunteerism and participating in the community," he added.

The Youth Corps Singapore is the first national-level programme of its kind targetting young people aged 15 to 35. It was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at last year's National Day Rally, and aims to encourage students to take up community work beyond their school years.

Mr Wong was speaking to reporters at Bowen Secondary School, one of the host schools of the National Secondary School Student Leaders Conference, organised by the National Youth Council and the Education Ministry. The event, first held in 2011, aims to instill a culture of volunteerism among student leaders.

For the first time as part of the conference, 550 student leaders - many of whom are leaders in their co-curricular activities or school councillors - from 138 secondary schools spent the morning carrying out community projects in 18 different venues around the island.

A few groups visited senior citizens at homes such as Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Centre and Swami Home, while others got a taste of what it takes to prepare meals for the needy with Willing Hearts. Another group spoke to toilet cleaners at Bottle Tree Park in Yishun to find out their challenges in keeping restrooms clean.