New programmes to level playing field for disadvantaged youth

The three-year initiative, which is made up of two programmes, will offer workshops and vocational training to help disadvantaged youth transition smoothly from school into the work environment. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG

SINGAPORE - To help disadvantaged youth transition smoothly from school into the work environment, a three-year initiative was launched at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) on Tuesday (Oct 9) to offer them workshops and vocational training.

It is made up of two programmes. Youth Forte, which is offered by Shine Children and Youth Services, targets those aged 17 to 21 who are not in school or training and are having problems finding work.

They will receive evaluation, individual coaching, employability skills training, internships or project-based experience and vocational training leading to a Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) certification. The programme aims to help young people learn more about various career fields through exposure to the industry.

They will also receive individual life coaching.

The second programme - offered by Touch Community Services in partnership with ITE - works with industry partners to provide students with structured training and certification for a particular job, such as coffee making or outdoor camp facilitation.

Called the Singapore Youth Impact Collective, these initiatives come after a series of discussions in the social service sector recognised that while education can help bridge social gaps, environmental factors - such as negative social influences or the home environment - can hinder young people from reaching their full potential.

Changi Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Credit Suisse, Octava Foundation, Shine and Touch are behind the initiative.

To date, Changi Foundation, Credit Suisse and Octava Foundation have pledged close to $1 million towards the programmes.

CFS deputy chief executive Joyce Teo said: "This approach acknowledges the value of collaboration in the face of complex social issues that require the coordinated efforts of multiple entities, usually from different sectors."

Over two days in September, 17-year-old Natasha Chan, a first-year digital animation student from ITE College Central, learnt the art of coffee making through the Touch programme and is now thinking of becoming a barista.

She was trained by the Dutch Colony Coffee Co chain.

"I learnt how to brew, grind, and make a cup of coffee," she said. "It is a skill I would not be able to pick up in my course. Learning this has widened my skills."

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