IMPACT 0552: HELPING LOWER-WAGE WORKERS RISE UP IN THE SYSTEM
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.
Dominique Teo, 18 is currently a J2 student at Victoria Junior College. She is part of Wage Warriors, a group of individuals that aims to help our nation’s lower-wage workers rise up the wage ladder.
Today, she shares more about the battles that the Wage Warriors are fighting for!
What was your role within your YAC project?
I was the group leader of my team, Wage Warriors. While the roles in our team were pretty fluid and all of us assisted wherever that needed help the most, I was mainly responsible for contacting external organisations for potential partnerships, as well as prototyping our website and merchandise.
What motivated you to join YAC?
When I first found out about YAC through my school, I thought it would be a good opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Although I had given back to the community through school-based projects before, I felt that there was still a lot more I could be doing to contribute. Upon reading the various challenge statements, I realised that the Support for Vulnerable Groups subtheme resonated with me the most. While it may not be a very profound reason, I felt that coming from a place of relative privilege, it can be very easy for one to take things for granted. Hence, I wanted to do my part to help uplift others in whatever capacity I could.
As for what motivated my team to focus on raising awareness on the progressive wage model (PWM), the idea for our project began when we were doing research on the PWM for schoolwork and realised that the source of information about the PWM, was not very user-friendly, even for us as digital natives. It is targeted at employers, hence it is extremely wordy and has large chunks of information about all the job sectors under the PWM, as well as every single job position in each sector.
We first conducted preliminary interviews with security guards of various demographics as our current prototypes focus mainly on the security sector. After letting them try out the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website on the PWM, all of our interviewees stated that they found the website difficult to navigate and were unable to find the information they were looking for.
They were unfamiliar with how to use the embedded links that were supposed to bring them to the next page, and a few of them simply clicked on random things on the website. The terminology used on the website was challenging for them to comprehend, but the website was also only available in English and not their mother tongue languages. Hence, we decided to try developing our own website that would better cater to the needs of lower-wage workers.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
My experience in YAC was undoubtedly an eye-opening one. I learnt a lot about the technicalities of everything that goes on behind the scenes for a large scale project, such as conducting preliminary research, crafting problem statements, coming up with KPIs, and so much more. I also managed to hone my soft skills, such as communication and time management. I think taking part in YAC also provided me with many invaluable opportunities that I never would have gotten otherwise, such as getting connected to representatives from ministries, or going for one-on-one clinics with experts to learn about delivering effective pitches.
However, I would say the most enriching part of this experience was being able to interact more with people from our project’s target group. Apart from simply saying “hi” and “bye” when I saw them around, I hadn’t really gotten the chance to talk to the security guards in my school. Taking part in YAC gave me the opportunity to learn about them, not just about their professions, but as individuals with rich and varied life stories.
One of them was a retired teacher who, apart from working as a security guard, was also an active grassroots leader and was very informed on the specifics of the PWM. Another security guard, however, seemed to have the misconception that going for training courses was only meant for more educated people.
Talking to them personally was really insightful as it showed me how diverse their backgrounds were, and how important it is to go down to the ground rather than simply making assumptions based on preconceived notions.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
Since we were all JC students, we honestly had little to no experience doing anything apart from studying. Sure, we did have Project Work as an A-Level subject, but we soon realised that merely ideating and writing a report was vastly different from coming up with a feasible idea and actually implementing it. Developing budgets, contacting external organisations, and finding tangible ways to measure the effectiveness of our project were also incredibly foreign to us.
However, I think all of us went into YAC with open minds and the eagerness to learn, so even though it took a lot of trial and error, we pushed through and the challenges we faced ultimately helped us grow a lot as a team. The assistance our mentors rendered us was also immensely helpful and we’re very grateful for them!
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
Given the wealth of information available on the Internet, it can be daunting and overwhelming for lower-wage workers to seek out information on the PWM. Additionally, many existing resources aren’t exactly the most intuitive or user-friendly for them either.
Our project connects lower-wage workers with more information about the progressive wage via our one-stop website, which compiles all the information on the PWM and explains it in an easily digestible way. After answering a short series of questions about their occupational sector and job position, lower-wage workers will be shown tailored information catering to their specific needs, such as the current minimum monthly salary for their job role, what courses they can take to advance in their careers, and what training providers they can turn to. This equips them with the information they need to move up the job ladder and promotes social mobility.