SINGAPORE - A new office called Mentoring SG will connect youth with mentors through an online platform and reach out to corporate organisations for mentoring opportunities.
Launching the independent office on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said the set-up will pool expertise and resources and scale up mentoring opportunities at the national level.
It will take over the work of Mentoring Alliance for Action (AFA), which was set up in March 2021 to develop common resources and share best practices to raise the standards of mentoring in the youth sector.
The alliance, which will conclude its term at the end of December, has developed close to 4,000 mentorship opportunities and trained 300 new mentors, who are mostly working professionals.
The new office’s immediate priorities include expanding structured mentoring programmes by forging more partnerships with schools, companies and mentoring organisations.
Encouraging employers to make mentoring a part of their work culture, Mr Wong, who is also Minister for Finance, said: “You can start by just encouraging your senior staff to take on informal mentoring roles, to go the extra mile to look out for your younger colleagues.
“We all know that the transition from adolescence to full adulthood is important, but it is also a very challenging formative period for young persons. It is a time for them to work out their values and principles, and it is a journey of self-discovery and self-mastery.
“And as young people embark on these journeys, they need mentors, coaches and role models who can help to expand their horizons and walk this journey with them.”
He said: “Most of us do not start off with a long-term plan for our careers... Instead, we mostly take it one step at a time. And hopefully, along the way, we get to choose a career that is aligned with our purpose, our values and our passion, and one that stretches us, pushes us a little bit out of our comfort zones.
“There will be moments when we stumble... mentors play a pivotal role in guiding us through the setbacks and enabling us to develop and grow.”
He said mentoring programmes have traditionally been targeted at youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“But every young person, regardless of their background, can benefit from mentoring, especially those who are navigating more stressful life transitions like the jump from being a student to a working adult,” added Mr Wong, who was speaking at the National Mentoring Summit 2022 held at *Scape in Orchard.
The Mentoring SG office will be headed by Mr Kelvin Kong, co-chair of the Mentoring AFA, and have a board of directors who will act as advisers. The National Youth Council will support the office in its initial set-up and operations.
The office will take over the running of a website – mentoring.sg – which will house a common platform for mentoring opportunities, resources and toolkits.
More than 1,000 mentors have joined the platform under the AFA, and over 1,000 matches between mentors and youth have been made.
Mr Wilbyn Tan, 19, who is going to study history at the National University of Singapore in 2023, met his mentor, Mr Tan Wei Xiong, while he was in national service (NS) four to five months ago.
“Wei Xiong was my commanding officer, and he was doing his reservist... He is a former teacher and doing policy work at the Education Ministry,” said Mr Wilbyn Tan. “He found out that I have an interest in becoming a teacher and took me under his wing to explore this pathway.”
The youth said he was not sure what to do after NS, and his mentor, whom he meets several times a week for meals and runs, gave him direction.
Mr Tan Wei Xiong said he hopes the new Mentoring SG office will promote the culture of mentoring and encourage more youth to step forward to be mentors themselves.
“As I talk to young people and understand their aspirations, I want to help them... It is very meaningful,” said the 37-year-old, who also mentors about 30 young people as a volunteer with The Astronauts Collective, a non-profit organisation that helps young people to discover meaningful careers.