IMPACT 0539: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.
Jasmine Guo, 18, is currently a student at Hwa Chong Institution. With her teammates Birui and Ding Xuan, the team first participated in the Young Leaders Summit before moving on to the YAC to tackle the gap between the education system and the current workplace.
They aim to make internships more accessible to junior college (JC) students by creating a middleman platform where students can browse through to find available internships with ease. This will not only help them discover their passions, but also allow them to experience the workplace environment. To date, they have validated the appropriateness of their solution with the student body and have gotten over five companies on board. As their A-Level examinations are fast approaching, the team plans on only implementing the pilot programme in 2023!
Today, Jasmine shares more about the project!
What was your role within your YAC project?
We didn’t have a distinct role hierarchy in our group. However, we each played to our strengths. If I were to really assign roles, Birui would be our built-in Grammarly assistant who critically analyses our writing to ensure its coherence. Ding Xuan is highly capable at handling our external communications. Meanwhile, I take charge of the aesthetics of our platform.
What motivated you to join YAC?
We were part of another project that was related to improving education for youth and it truly sparked my interest in enacting real change, especially within our education system, which we, as students, are still part of. We therefore had gone through the benefits and flaws of the schooling system in Singapore, and wanted to create an even better environment for the next generation of students to discover their passions and be motivated to impact the real world.
Perhaps, one of the shortcomings of the current education system is that there is a gap between it and the future world of jobs. As a JC student on the threshold of adulthood and facing the imminent decision of choosing my university degree, I still have no idea what I’m passionate about orwhat industries I want to explore. Hence, we wanted to join YAC to create a solution to bridge this gap in the system.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
It was one of the few moments where I truly felt pure unadulterated joy at doing something. To have the ability to enact real change was such an intoxicating idea. In school, while there are opportunities to make a difference in society, most of what we do is still constrained to theoretical knowledge. But with our YAC project, we had the opportunity to benefit students facing the same struggles as us, and this really fueled my motivation to continue on with this project.
At the start of our journey, we revalidated our hypothesis of the educational system gap with a survey for students, and many of them confirmed that they lacked real-life working experience and wanted more career guidance resources. With that knowledge in mind, we started crafting our solution. Our mentors at the National Youth Coundil gave us so much more insights into areas we did not look at, and guided us in crafting and ensuring the feasibility of our solutions. So many people extended their help along the way, including companies and individuals with expertise in the areas we needed. Embarking on this project has reaffirmed my faith in humanity.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
One of the biggest challenges we faced as students was the lack of professional expertise. We didn’t have much business knowledge, didn’t know enough programming, didn’t have the skills to create professional aesthetics, and didn’t have enough life or street-savviness that comes with age. However, we were so fortunate to be able to meet with mentors who gave their professional opinion on our solutions, and that really helped us greatly.
Another challenge would have been the lack of time. I remember our final sprint to prepare for our pitch in January. During that period, I almost completely did not touch my studies as I was juggling both nightly meetings for YAC and a substantial CCA commitment. However, studies can always be caught up on and I have zero regrets about putting in all my effort for this!
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
We believe that making internships more accessible to JC students will greatly aid them in their decision making process for future university degrees or jobs.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
One of the key takeaways was to focus on our problem and not on the solution. The problem is true and real, however, focusing too much on how our solution is good and denying suggestions to change it will only have it eventually miss the mark with our target audience. Being open to suggestions whilst staying critical of what we hear was really a big thing that I have taken away from this project.
This article was published on Apr 25, 2022