Budget 2022 Dialogue Highlights Youths’ Concerns, NYC Offers Grant & Programmes To Spark Social Change

S'pore Youths Want A Stake In Shaping Country's Future, It Starts With Picking Up The Right Skills

National Youth Council Post-Budget 2022 Highlights Youths’ Concerns About Budget 2022

With the world constantly evolving, today’s youth and the generations to come will live completely different lives as another chapter of digitalisation takes place.

It’s like that line in the superhero film The Avengers: “Dread it, run from it, destiny arrives all the same.” It’s what the next generation will inevitably face.

However, this also means there are ample opportunities for immense growth. All you have to do is know when and how to seize it — and it all starts by picking the right skills.

Such were the important conversations heard during the National Youth Council (NYC) post-Budget 2022 dialogue ‘Conversations on Our Way Forward’.

National Youth Council Post-Budget 2022

Image courtesy of NYC

On 30 Mar, over 220 youths gathered physically and virtually for the hybrid dialogue, held at Suntec Convention Centre and over Zoom. They had an honest talk with Minister Indranee Rajah and Minister of State Alvin Tan to learn the rationale behind some of the latest Budget announcements.

In this article, we’ll detail some key points brought up by the youth, such as:

  • The rising costs of living
  • Upskilling to meet the demands of the digital era
  • Mental well-being
  • Transitioning to a greener and sustainable Singapore

Rising costs of living a major concern among youths

The youth of today are very well in tune with the economic implications of today’s decisions compared to their predecessors. During the dialogue, among many other pressing issues, they were keen to focus on the rising living costs.

National Youth Council Post-Budget 2022

Image courtesy of NYC

With all the discussion around the impending GST hike affecting our day-to-day routines, Ms Indranee – Second Minister for Finance and National Development – clarified that the Government has already delayed the GST increase to 2023.

This increase was initially brought up in 2018; however, due to Covid-19, it was pushed back in 2020.

She also added that the increase does not come without support from the Government for those in need. With the help of a $6.6 billion Assurance Package, most Singaporeans can expect to receive cash payouts that will essentially put off the GST increase for about 5 years.

Although this support system is in place, the youths are looking beyond the 5-year mark. Coupled with geopolitical issues, they are wary, and to that, Mr David Chua, the chief executive officer of NYC, was there to quell their worries.

He said, “NYC is working closely with Government agencies to raise awareness on the suite of support measures to address these concerns.”

While the Government can provide the support, the youths will have to find it within themselves to break away from these concerns with their own hands.

Job markets worldwide will require digital skills

Many of the youth in attendance nodded their heads in agreement when an audience member brought up a concern on digitalisation.

An NUS student pointed out that despite the call for the next generation of Singaporeans to adopt a tech-savvy approach to life by picking up digital skills, there might still be those who do not lean in that direction.

“For these folks not wanting to enter the financial or tech sectors, what are some measures that will help them cope with rising living costs?”

In response to this question, Mr Wong Jin Feng – People’s Association Youth Movement council member – encouraged youth to actively seek out opportunities to upgrade their skills so that they can continue to embrace new challenges and ways of working.

President of MENDAKI Club Ms Faridah Saad noted that youth need not be in the financial or tech sectors to benefit from digitalisation and the benefits that it may bring.

From emerging sectors like agriculture technology to traditional ones like the hotel industry, there will be jobs, including those that have yet to be created, that will require digital skills.

Ultimately, it is essential for youths to equip themselves with a wide range of skills – including digital skills – to remain competitive in the future, she said.

Mental well-being a key focus for Singaporean youth

One major cause that youth have rallied around – and even more so in recent times – is mental well-being.

In 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) announced that the Youth Mental Well-being Network had been created. Over two years, this network has grown to include about 1,500 members of the public, who have signed up to participate and support the cause. In 2022, this network will transition to a wider network that will address mental health issues across the broader population.

Mr Alvin Tan – Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth – highlighted that, as mental well-being is important for youths and non-youths alike, this new network will seek to support Singaporeans across all age groups.

He mapped out the different improvements MCCY made to help this transition.

First, the training of new peer supporters, which equips people who have mental health conditions with support skills. This way, they can use their experience to their advantage by helping others in need. After all, people may find it easier to open up to someone who has gone through a similar experience.

Mr Tan noted that this would also help reduce any potential friction between mental health professionals and clients.

Next, increasing accessibility to mental well-being resources, such as Youthopia.sg, which provides youths with information and tips they may require to manage their own mental health and support others.

To complement these efforts, Mr Tan encouraged youths to take ownership of these issues, and be the change they want to see by kickstarting their own ground-up initiatives to address causes close to their hearts.

Organisations like NYC and MCCY provide platforms for your ideas to come to life, connecting you with the resources you need to turn your plans into action.

Advancing our green transition together

Another topic addressed was the recent announcement of Singapore’s carbon tax hike.

One audience member raised her concerns about the trickle-down effect that may come from it, fearing that corporations may levy the brunt of this added tax burden onto consumers.

Ms Indranee explained that the carbon tax would help to nudge companies to operate in a more carbon-efficient way.

The Government will also use part of the revenue gained through the tax hike to help make the transition easier for both households and businesses. One such example of additional support is the additional U-Save rebates, which will help cushion the impact on households.

As with any change, the transition will take time, and the authorities understand this.

The endgame here is the wider adoption of green practices by both businesses and individuals, allowing us to become a greener and more sustainable society.

Get involved & become an advocate for change

While change has begun, with the proverbial ball rolling on certain initiatives, there is still much room to grow.

As Mr Tan mentioned, becoming an advocate for change starts from the ground up. Naturally, dialogues like these help bring issues into discourse, but there is only so much that can be done without the necessary legwork.

By being the change you want to see, you can take action and bring the ideas from paper to reality.

National Youth Council Post-Budget 2022

Be it through signing up with the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) or being supported through NYC’s Young ChangeMakers (YCM) grant, there are many ways to get involved.

As with many ideas, it comes from the hearts and minds of the youth that will shape the future.

Stay well-prepared for the reality ahead

As youth, the future may understandably be daunting and full of uncertainties. But take it from others who have been in the same shoes you’re filling right now: it takes time and effort to see success.

If we could choose to magically spend five minutes with either our past or future self, most of us might take the former to correct our past mistakes.

Aside from revealing winning lottery numbers or the right stock to buy before it takes off, we’d imagine telling ourselves to invest in the right skills so that when the opportunity arrives, we would be ready to grab it with both hands.

As they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with the National Youth Council.

Featured image by MS News.

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