Help for disadvantaged youth to transition from school to work

CFS deputy CE0 Joyce Teo and NVPC director of strategic partnership Darrel Lim. The year-long youth collective initiative comes after a series of discussions involving social service groups led by CFS and NVPC.
CFS deputy CE0 Joyce Teo and NVPC director of strategic partnership Darrel Lim. The year-long youth collective initiative comes after a series of discussions involving social service groups led by CFS and NVPC.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

To help youth from low-income families transition from school to the work environment, a new year-long programme will be launched this year to offer them workshops and vocational training.

Dubbed the "youth collective", the initiative is part of a national move to further help these youth get a leg-up in life to mitigate social inequality in Singapore.

The programme comes after a series of discussions - which involved 56 groups in the social service sector - concluded that while education can help bridge social gaps, not every young person can fully tap its benefits.

Initiated by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the discussions found that economic, social and cultural differences contribute to a greater variance in academic performance among Singaporean students, compared with elsewhere.

The social gap may hence widen if disadvantaged youth do not get more help, CFS and NVPC said.

Participants deliberated over the multiple challenges these youth face, with parents who tend to work long hours or on shifts.

This leaves them with little time to attend to the learning needs of their children, who often shoulder more adult responsibilities.

It can result in poorer literacy and academic performance, and may lead to psychological issues like depression, CFS and NVPC said.

Contributing to the youth collective are a multinational corporation, a Singapore company, non-profit groups and researchers, CFS deputy chief executive officer Joyce Teo said yesterday. More details will be given when the project is launched later this year.

CFS and NVPC also released yesterday a 17-page guide on closing the inequality gap for these youth.

The youth collective is an early initiative sparked by Colabs, a series of discussions that began last year and which gathers disparate stakeholders across the social service sector to exchange ideas, including philanthropists, businesses, non-profit groups and sector experts. Colabs is led and funded by CFS and NVPC.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu had alluded to the series in the addendum to the President's Address recently when she said the Government "will convene more platforms for givers, non-profits and sector experts to build insights, co-create solutions and achieve national impact together''.

NVPC's director of strategic partnership Darrel Lim said that, among other things, the discussions are designed to "uncover gaps in the current system and collectively devise ways to plug them".

"The challenge lies in what we call 'wicked problems', or very complex problems, that don't lend themselves very well to any single party's intervention,'' he said.

Besides obtaining input from experts, beneficiaries and donors, the first Colabs process involved a field trip and a poverty simulation exercise.

A second Colabs series, which ended in May, looked at how to help those with disabilities. A third will focus on seniors.

Spin-off projects from all of these will likely be announced later.

"Collaboration is the way forward as the scale, scope and complexity of social issues today make it impossible for a single player or the Government to solve alone," Ms Teo added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2018, with the headline 'Help for disadvantaged youth to transition from school to work'. Print Edition | Subscribe