SINGAPORE - Mohamed Ali Mohamed Pesal was not wild about a future in information technology. That is why the 17-year-old opted out of studying at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) at the end of last year.
Now, he will get a shot at living out his dream of working with animals or marine wildlife, thanks to a new mentorship pilot spearheaded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
"I think this is a very important opportunity because it is what I need to get to where I want to be in the future," said Ali, who is currently an animal care assistant in an animal park.
The teenager is among 100 youths who will participate in Camp, or Career Advice and Mentoring Programme, over a two-year period.
Announced at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament last year, the pilot will involve students who leave the ITE prematurely.
It will match them with mentors from industries of their interest to guide them in exploring their passion and career choices as well as facilitate internships or job placements.
At the launch of the pilot on Wednesday (Jan 19) in Clarke Quay, Mr Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary for MSF and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, said: "We believe that every youth, regardless of his or her background and circumstances, has the potential to achieve success in life, given the right support and guidance.
"The launch of Camp today adds to our ongoing mission of working closely with agencies like ITE, passionate community partners like social service agency Trybe Limited, and individuals, in the spirit of Singapore Together, to transform the lives of youths at risk."
For mentor Ivan Ong, 35, the decision to pay it forward was an easy one to make.
The senior business development manager for cyber-security firm Exclusive Networks Singapore said he received help from a teacher when he was an ITE student.
"There are students who do not know what they want in life, and we can help to clear that vision and make the end goals more clear for them," said Mr Ong.
He noted that the mentorship programme would help expand the network of mentees and open their minds to new career paths.
"The mentorship programme will give them access to people from a wide variety of industries, it will give them a chance to talk to people from all walks of life and will allow them to understand different experiences," he added.