Three initiatives to better support youth work professionals launched at Youth Work Day

Mr Santhiran Ezhavarasan is an assistant lead at the shelter residential unit in Boys’ Town. PHOTO: BOYS’ TOWN

SINGAPORE - Youth work professionals can look forward to more education and training opportunities from 2023 with the launch of an academy and a raft of courses.

Three initiatives – to onboard entrants to the youth work sector, provide legal resources to professionals who work with youth, and roll out an academy to offer courses anchored by research – were announced at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) on Friday.

They were launched at the second edition of Youth Work Day, organised by Youth Work Association Singapore (YWAS) and NP, with support from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

At the event, Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and for Social and Family Development, thanked youth work professionals for supporting young people through the Covid-19 pandemic.

To better equip new youth work professionals to support young people and their families, MSF has partnered NP to implement a Youth Work Onboarding Course starting from the first half of 2023.

The two-day course will provide participants with foundational knowledge of the sector, information about career pathways and networking opportunities with other professionals.

It will be held in NP and taught by lecturers who are former youth work practitioners.

Ms Celynn Chang, clinical intervention centre manager at Boys’ Town, said many fresh graduates join the industry without prior experience, so training is crucial.

“They may come in with a deep interest and passion to work with us, but some of them lack the skills to work with youth who display challenging behaviour,” she said. “They do need the training to gain more confidence.”

Youth work professionals can expect to learn about self-care, ways to guide the young people they work with to better manage their mental well-being and build up their resilience, and become better mentors to them.

Mr Santhiran Ezhavarasan, an assistant lead at the shelter residential unit in Boys’ Town, said it is important for organisations to encourage staff to attend workshops and courses to find out what they can do in terms of self-care.

“When I started out as a young youth worker, if my mentees (behaved badly), it affected me as a mentor. I used to question if I did enough for the residents and I thought about it even outside of work,” he said.

YWAS, together with the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers and law firm Allen & Gledhill, will also give youth work professionals access to legal expertise more readily through workshops, legal clinics and online question-and-answer sessions.

The collaboration will provide pro bono legal advice to youth in need, their families and youth work professionals.

Ms Andria Choo, an assistant senior social worker at Fei Yue Community Services, said having legal knowledge will allow her to better support and protect her clients.

For example, young people may not be aware of their legal rights or who they can turn to for help if these rights are violated, so getting such information would be beneficial.

Ms Choo said: “Specialised training will equip us to be better workers to support our youth, who are very vulnerable.”

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