New programme to help Singapore youth find internships, promote sustainability

President Halimah Yacob with Asean youth delegates at the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Youth Forum 2019 on March 17.
President Halimah Yacob with Asean youth delegates at the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Youth Forum 2019 on March 17.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/HALIMAH YACOB/MCI

SINGAPORE - Young people here will be able to find internship placements and networking opportunities more easily, thanks to a new programme launched on Sunday (March 17) that is open to local young people aged between 18 and 30.

The Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Youth Alliance will also allow members to receive invitations to flagship sustainability events and volunteer activities, as well enjoy discounted rates for the alliance's sustainability training sessions.

The programme is administrated by the GCNS, the local chapter of the United Nations Global Compact that encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.

Launched by President Halimah Yacob at the GCNS Youth Forum 2019, this programme aims to provide young people with learning, volunteering and career development opportunities in sustainability.

GCNS president Goh Swee Chen said: "Apart from championing sustainability at a corporate level, we want to develop a sustainability mindset in our youth.

"It is our goal that Singapore's future workforce will begin their careers, committed to responsible businesses practices as a norm."

GCNS said that membership will cost $50 per person, and that those who sign up in groups of 10 will receive a discount of 10 per cent.

It added that the programme aims to give young people a deeper understanding of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which Singapore and almost 200 other UN members have signed up to deliver by 2030. They include eradication of poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and affordable clean energy.

National University of Singapore student Levonne Goh, 23, who has signed up for the programme while majoring in South-east Asian studies, said: "The Alliance would give me a head start in a career in sustainability and allow me to get to know like-minded peers on the same career path.

"It is good to get youths involved in sustainability before they even enter the workforce. They can then make more informed choices and this would signal to companies that sustainability is something to take seriously, especially if they want to hire the best talent."

At the launch on Sunday, held at the NTUC Centre in Marina Bay, GCNS also organised a youth dialogue that Madam Halimah, Ms Goh and about 300 local and foreign young people took part in.

Madam Halimah took questions from several Asean youth delegates as they discussed topics ranging from climate change, promoting sustainability in digital platforms and the role young people have to play in policy formulation.

Responding to a question from a Cambodian dialogue participant about the struggle some have to see Asean's relevance, Madam Halimah acknowledged that this is a "common problem" across Asean countries. She noted that some people fail to see the regional grouping's significance and are disinterested in what it is about.

But citing how trade with the Asean region and within member states has grown, Madam Halimah stressed that Asean is one of the most successful regional groupings in the world.

She attributed this to how Asean has allowed its member countries to engage in areas of common importance, like on social and economic issues, and urged youths to work hard to continue its success.

"You have an important job to make sure you spread your understanding and knowledge of Asean and your own belief about Asean can benefit your country," she said.