Counselling to help youth find direction in their lives

This is just one idea mooted by young participants at Think Future Forum

Taking a hard look at the lives of her peers, polytechnic student Angeline Tan said she found a common thread - many feel stifled by the education system.

"There is a lot of competitiveness, and it demoralises them and makes them question their purpose," the 19-year-old said.

So she and her group proposed starting career counselling and apprenticeship programmes at a younger age to allow students to develop a clearer idea of who they are and what they are truly interested in.

She and her team members were among 40 young people who presented their policy ideas to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at yesterday's Think Future Forum, held at National Junior College.

Agreeing with Ms Tan's suggestion, Ms Fu said this is an issue that the SkillsFuture initiative, which aims to promote lifelong learning, is trying to address.

Ms Tan's scheme aims to offer more structured career guidance and better internship plans to expose youth to the options available and let them form a better idea of what they are interested in.

"We realise that many young people choose their school not because they know what they want in life," she said. Instead, they are often influenced by other factors such as where their friends are going and what is the most popular course of study then. "There are cases where after you get the degree, you go into a completely different line of work," she added.

The forum was part of a larger project by the Association for Public Affairs to get young people involved in deciding the direction Singapore should take in the next 50 years.

Yesterday's session marked the culmination of eight months of work, during which participants were mentored by experts from various fields.

Their policy proposals will eventually be shared with the relevant government agencies.

Another group tasked to think of a way to foster greater understanding between young people and seniors came up with the idea of an in-store delivery service run by youth volunteers.

These young people would help the elderly carry groceries home.

"We could run a pilot programme in older estates, like Tampines or Ang Mo Kio, and see if it's effective," said 19-year-old Kim Kwang Kyu, who is in junior college at Raffles Institution.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'Counselling to help youth find direction in their lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe