Five things youths should know about the MCCY Committee of Supply debate 2021
From safeguarding the mental well-being of youths to providing more volunteering opportunities, here are five things you should know.
Securing a job after graduation, maintaining mental health and worrying about societal issues are some of the things that are weighing on the minds of youths these days.
Mr Alvin Tan, the Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Trade and Industry acknowledged these worries at the Committee of Supply debate, stating that youths are coming of age into a world which has changed, just as they are beginning to make sense of it.
He said: “Our youths are not strawberries in the pandemic. They are emerging from the pandemic more resilient and aided in part by the unprecedented support measures by our Government, they have thrived.
“But the storm is not yet over and the future is uncertain and our youths are asking the question, ‘what next?’”
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) unveiled more of their plans in Parliament on Mar 8 to address some of these youth concerns. Here are five things that the Government is doing to help youths thrive in the pandemic and beyond.
1. Helping youths secure jobs and upskill
In the same debate, Mr Edwin Tong, the Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, acknowledged concerns youths have about their future career prospects.
He said: “I know that our young people, especially fresh graduates, worry that this crisis will have a lasting impact on their careers. We understand these concerns and will do our best to help you overcome them.”
To address these concerns, the National Youth Council (NYC) is creating opportunities for youths to be future ready, such as through the YouthTech Programme, where up to 1,000 youths will develop digital skills, including content creation, digital marketing, and data analytics, which can be applied in the real world.
Similarly, the Youth Corps Internship Scheme will also offer 400 placements and the Asia-Ready Exposure Programme aims to reach 10,000 youths per year on a regular basis after 2022.
2. Safeguarding mental well-being of youths
Mr Tan also recognised that youths care deeply about mental well-being, wanting an inclusive society where no one struggles with mental health issues alone.
As such, MCCY and NYC will promote the healthy use of online platforms and safeguard the mental wellbeing of youths through partnerships with stakeholders such as tech companies.
Mr Tan said: “We are working with Facebook and TikTok to enhance community support resources on their platforms for users facing distress, and using these platforms’ wide reach to foster open conversations and to raise awareness about mental health and cyber wellness.”
3. Empowering youths to shape the future of Singapore
Stating that the diversity of ideas from youths is a strength the government must respect, cherish and steward, Mr Tan said that MCCY has been doing more to engage and empower them to take action on issues that they care about.
For example, 375 youths shared their views across six sessions of the Emerging Stronger Conversations from July to September 2020.
Additionally, over 440 youths participated in the Youth Action Challenge, a platform to voice opinions, create ideas and take action in issues important to society. Season 3 is scheduled for the second half of 2021.
More recently, over 350 youths voiced their views at the dialogue on criminal justice and sentencing framework, and three dialogues on women-related issues.
4. Providing more volunteering opportunities for youth
More volunteering opportunities will be provided through Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) and SG Cares initiatives.
In 2021, the Youth Corps Leaders Programme and Programme X target to offer 1,400 opportunities. In addition, Youth Corps will offer about 4,000 online and physical volunteering opportunities.
Youths involved will develop the skills to implement projects to address specific societal needs.
5. Support for youths from low-income families
Mr Tan said that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted youths from low-income backgrounds, and the government is working with partners to provide more support.
MCCY and NYC are partnering with youth sector organisations to empower such youths to make informed career and life decisions.
Employment Support Service Providers such as Bettr Barista and YMCA are also providing job matching and placement services, training and support.
For schooling youths who need to work, schools proactively identify and engage students who are disengaged or at-risk to help keep them in school.
There is academic, socio-emotional, after-school and community support, as well as financial support through MOE’s Financial Assistance Schemes and school-based financial assistance.
The Government is also working with partners to raise awareness of these support schemes among youths.