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Case study: How this virtual career-readiness programme helps youth cross borders and boundaries of knowledge

Case study: How this virtual career-readiness programme helps youth cross borders and boundaries of knowledge

The V-Work Programme offers an understanding of the social and cultural contexts, and awareness of economic opportunities in ASEAN member states, China and India (ACI).

To prepare youth in Singapore for the future of work, the National Youth Council (NYC) tapped on Cognizant and its V-Work programme, as part of NYC’s Asia-Ready Exposure Programme. The V-Work programme is a virtual career readiness programme, which equips youth with knowledge, skills, and connections through an experiential and collaborative bootcamp that provides short term overseas immersion opportunities. This enables a holistic understanding of the social and cultural contexts, and awareness of economic opportunities in ASEAN member states, China and India (ACI).

With COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, the V-Work Programme is conducted via digital means with Cognizant's help, making it a virtual cross-border career readiness programme.

Jerene Ang had the opportunity to speak with Aniza Yusope, Senior Manager (Asia-Ready Exposure Programme), National Youth Council Singapore (pictured above), for more insights on this programme.

Q What is the programme about?

The V-Work Programme is a virtual career-readiness programme focused on preparing youth for the future of work by equipping them with knowledge, skills and connections so that they can stride confidently towards opportunities in the region. Supported by National Youth Council’s Asia-Ready Exposure Programme (AEP), this platform is part of NYC's efforts to provide Singapore youths with overseas exposure opportunities through projects that are co-curated together with partners, such as Cognizant.

At the end of the AEP project, youths will gain an understanding of both the cultural context of, and economic opportunities in, the ASEAN member states, China and India (ACI).

Specifically, the AEP aims to:

  1. Increase youth awareness and understanding of the social, cultural, and political dimensions of the ACI cities;
  2. Increase awareness of the economic growth trajectories and opportunities in the ACI markets, and
  3. Broaden personal growth opportunities and youth ACI networks.

Q How is the programme being carried out?

The COVID-19 outbreak has given new momentum to the digital world where we are able to further bridge the gap in crossing borders and boundaries.

AEP, together with the support of our partners, remodelled our programme support for youths to continue having opportunities for regional exposure using digital modalities.

Other than the programme itself, AEP also offers webinars, language modules, and other hands-on virtual projects, which provide both the theoretical and practical knowledge essential for meaningful cross-cultural interaction.

The hands-on projects, which can take the form of a content-based programme and project internship, would not only provide the industry exposure for youth to better understand the trending economies and challenges in the region, but also develop their regional connections and skills.

AEP also regularly curates Asia-Ready resources on NYC’s Youthopia, a first-stop digital platform that provide youth-centric content, to increase youth’s awareness of the region and pique their interest to participate in an AEP project.

Q Who are some of the partners that NYC works with for this programme?

NYC works very closely with the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to publicise meaningful AEP programmes to students, especially with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) being very supportive of the V-Work Programme.

Besides Cognizant, NYC has collaborated with various partners across the people, private and public (3P) sector to tap onto their expertise and resources to provide a holistic AEP programme for youth to develop a strong global outlook to remain relevant in the global climate.

These include the collaboration with School of Gumption (SOG) on a youth exchange programme where youth can work on research projects that allow them to better understand the Entrepreneurship landscape in Vietnam; Wise Wash for virtual project internship that equips youth with regional economic knowledge and understanding of work cultures; and Temasek Polytechnic to broaden the students’ exposure to the region as a foundational requirement in their studying years.

We have also partnered with think tanks such as the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) to curate content and platforms such as the Asia-Ready Webinars and current affairs articles for these youth to further to increase their awareness and perspectives of the socio, economic and political happenings in the region.

Q What were some of the challenges that NYC faced when hosting this programme?

At AEP, we prioritise youths’ needs in the curation of our programmes.

Ensuring that the youth were given adequate guidance to execute their project was challenging as we underestimated the resources required to guide them in their project.

Q How were these challenges overcome?

We engage youth post programme to share their thoughts and feedback to ensure the relevancy of our programme and how we could adapt to the needs of our youth for future programmes. Cognizant has been very supportive and open to NYC’s suggestion to provide resources such as mentors to further enhance youth’s experience and development for the project.

Q What are the results of this programme? 

Through the AEP-V-Work Programme, we hope to provide the stepping stone where youth can begin their journey in developing their global-mindedness and being more informed, ready with cross-cultural skills and understanding of Asia. While AEP has provided opportunities to more than 5,000 youths in its first phase, we will continue to provide even greater access to youths by bringing Asia-ready content, resources, and experience online.

Q What are some of the lessons learned from this programme?

One of the lessons learned from the programme is the need to constantly think and curate different and innovative AEP projects/programmes that would be meaningful and relevant for youth.

In order to increase awareness of the AEP or other opportunities that can offer regional exposure among youth, there is also a need to experiment with different content angles that resonate with our target audience and tap on various youth-focused platforms for effective outreach.

The strong nexus with our partners has also allowed us to stay responsive to our youths’ needs. We hope to continue to build up our network of partners to scale up access and impact of our programme.

"Digitalisation-driven career opportunities are at an all-time high. Supporting youth to capitalize on these opportunities by improving work-ready skills and opening up our networks helps to balance the talent gap for industry while better equipping them for the future." 
- Andrew Lim, Vice-President, Head of ASEAN and Greater China, Cognizant
"Through Cognizant V-Work, we are engaging youths from across Asia and providing them with a quasi-work experience on what the real working world looks and feels like. The youth pick up real-world skills including collaborating in a diverse environment, problem-solving and presenting to senior corporate leaders."
- Daniel Lee, Head of Campus Recruitment, APAC & ME

ICYMI5 key trends shaping the upskilling landscape

Image / Provided (Aniza Yusope, Senior Manager (Asia-Ready Exposure Programme), National Youth Council Singapore)

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