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Response to Adjournment Motion on Creating Opportunity for Youth to Thrive

Response by Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Trade and Industry, Alvin Tan, to Adjournment Motion on “Creating Opportunity for Youth to Thrive” by Nominated Member of Parliament Dr Syed Harun Alhabsyi in Parliament on 2 July 2024.

Sir, I thank Dr Syed Harun for his speech. I would also like to acknowledge the many youth leaders who are here in the gallery today, in support of Dr Harun's important Adjournment Motion.


Last month, at the National Youth Council's Leaders Course, I met youth leaders Ernie, Kaegen and Danish. Danish is here with us today. The youth leaders shared with me about their experience in the National Youth Leaders Course, overcoming physical obstacles during the Outward Bound School (OBS) segment of the course. They were initially daunted by the physical challenges, but ultimately, through mentoring, coaching and the support of peers, they gained the confidence to overcome the physical, mental and emotional obstacles in their way.


Mr Speaker, I agree with Dr Harun that it is okay for our youths to try, to tumble and even to fail. But we do not want to provide a fail-safe environment because that simply does not exist in the real world. Instead, the best thing we can do for our youths, is to equip them with the tools that they need to thrive. This is exactly what we are doing and will continue doing. Let me share a few examples.


OBS, which over 20,000 Secondary 3 students attend every year, equips them to be confident, resilient and rugged. We are expanding OBS to double the number of participants to 40,000 a year, once OBS@Coney is completed later this year. But beyond OBS, we also have other programmes and platforms to equip our youths to thrive.


For youths who are adulting, we launched our national mentoring movement, Mentoring SG, in 2022 to create more mentoring opportunities to equip them with perspectives and opportunities from mentors, so they can chart and walk their own path.


Together with our youths, we launched Well-Being Circles under our SG Mental Well-Being Network to equip citizens, including youths, with the skills to care for themselves and those around them. Cho Ming Xiu, who leads Campus PSY, a member of the SG Mental Well-being Network, is here today. Campus PSY is a ground-up youth organisation, working on youth mental well-being and peer support work.


Then, as part of our Youth Action Challenge, beyond funding, we equip our youths with skills to develop sustainable business plans and they must, in the Youth Action Challenge, pitch their ideas to a panel. So they will need help to learn how to pitch, how to negotiate and how to persuade to a panel, which is very useful for them as they go out to the working world.


Then, there is our Youth Panels. Through our Youth Panels, we are equipping them with tools to solve societal challenges of our day. Some of our Youth Panels members are here today and they have been working closely with us on topics such as financial security, financial literacy, sustainability, evolving careers as well as digital well-being. The Youth Panels will be sharing their preliminary ideas in the upcoming Youth Policy Forum in August.


Dr Harun also asked how we are working with other Ministries and partners. Indeed, we are working with many of them, again, to equip our youths with the skills and the opportunities to thrive.


The Ministry of Manpower and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) are key partners of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Mentoring SG. We are working with our tripartite partners to onboard corporates to provide industry-relevant mentoring opportunities. We work with, for example, NTUC's Youth Taskforce, which Member Desmond Choo has been leading. For example, Young NTUC provides mentorships, internships, mental well-being support and its Career Starter Lab, which NTUC is championing.


We have also put together with our NTUC counterparts a strong line-up of over 100 corporates, including impressive names such as Micron, Timbre, CISCO, LinkedIn, JobStreet, Prudential, and also trade associations and chambers of commerce. For example, the Singapore Fintech Association, the Singapore Semiconductor Association, ST Aerospace Engineering and Singapore International Chambers of Commerce.


So, we are tying them with industries so that they have key industry perspectives and opportunities. We also provide training and career opportunities for our youths in the financial sector. We launched the Polytechnic Talent for Finance Scheme last year together with the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Institute of Banking and Finance to offer internships and apprenticeships for polytechnic students, leading to full-time jobs in the financial industry.


Just last month, we partnered OCBC to launch OCBC Ignite, an internship and apprenticeship programme to equip polytechnic students with industry experience and skills to springboard their career to a university graduate-equivalent role in 18 months.


We also partner the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore to equip our youths to be ready not just for the region but for the rest of the world. For example, we have an Asia-Ready Exposure Programme which equips our youths to be Asia-Ready through exposure to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, China and India.


We also have a Youth Leaders Exchange Programme with countries in the region. I was just with our youth leaders at the Second China-Singapore Youth Leader Campus in Singapore in April. In fact, this month, our youths will be in China for the second leg of this programme.


This month also, it is going to be very busy for our youths. I am looking forward to working with the team on the Singapore-Malaysia Youth Leaders Exchange Programme. So, we are expanding this space, and our youths are out there interacting with their counterparts, learning from their counterparts and forming long-term networks with their counterparts.


For disadvantaged youths, we work with many different partners, including at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, but also with youth sector organisations like Access, a social mobility charity providing career exposure opportunities for our youths. Its founder, Clarence Ching, is in the gallery today.


Mr Speaker, last night at my Meet-the-People Session, I caught up with Tristan, a youth volunteer in my constituency. He had just returned from a leadership camp in the United States (US). While he was there, we had been in touch on WhatsApp. I was checking in on him and he was telling me what he had learnt in camp. Last night, he came by and he was very eager to share with me what he had learnt. He told me that he had gained valuable leadership experiences and valuable perspectives about the US and also about Singapore’s unique place in the world. Tristan told me that his "American peers at camp regard Singapore very highly for our safety and success despite our size". Tristan came back feeling more inspired to serve and plant roots in Singapore – the rootedness point that Dr Harun had mentioned. Tristan is here today, as well.


For youths like Tristan, we will continue to turn their aspirations to serve into actions to serve. Like through Youth Corps Singapore, which equips our youths and provide opportunities for them to serve in a myriad of areas such as sustainability and caring for vulnerable groups.


In fact, Youth Corps Singapore celebrates its 10th year anniversary this Saturday. Prime Minister Wong will be joining us at the Carnival at *SCAPE and I invite all Members to also join us to celebrate Youth Corps' milestone this Saturday.


Mr Speaker, Dr Harun’s Adjournment Motion about creating opportunities for youths to thrive is timely as we celebrated Youth Day just two days ago and Youth Month in July. In my response, I have made the point that the best thing we can do for our youths as a nation is to equip them with the tools to thrive in a world in flux.


Sir, given the youth leaders in attendance with us in the gallery, can I invite Members to join me in appreciating the incredible work they are doing to equip our nation's new generation of leaders. 

Last updated on 09 July 2024