The core of our work at Conjunct is our consulting projects and our corporate engagements. However, one of the essential parts of our mission is also to develop high-impact socially conscious leaders. To serve this end, we were selected by the Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) to run a three-day workshop + hackathon – part of the Youth Corps Leaders Programme – from 5th to 7th July to train some of the brightest young minds of Singapore. The aim of YCS, which operates under the National Youth Council, is to equip youth leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge to initiate their own community projects and contribute meaningfully to the social sector in Singapore. It took a full eight weeks of planning and preparatory work. Still, internally, the Conjunct Academy and the Conjunct Corporate team was excited to leverage this opportunity in developing high-impact socially-conscious youth leaders of the future.
The primary objective of the programme was to sensitise the youth to the three main cause areas that exist in the social sector in Singapore and allow them to detail out their own projects that they would like to implement shortly. In the three days, we pursued a two-pronged delivery methodology: 1. Problem-Solving skills training to make high impact 2. Developing their social consciousness through empathy exercises and experiential learning. The 3-day workshop was structured into three cause areas: Elderly, Single Parents, and Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Two immersion sessions – a panel and a site visit – were organised so that participants (also known as YCS aspirants) can better understand and appreciate community issues. An intense case study based training was also provided to build knowledge and skills.
On the first day, the aspirants got a more in-depth dive accurate understanding on the cause area and had the chance to hear first-hand stories from our panellists about their social impact work in their respective cause areas. This helped aspirants foster a deep sense of connection with the cause area. The participants were also inspired by the journeys of the social sector practitioners and entrepreneurs. We had organisations like Bettr Barista, Daughters of Tomorrow, Soundeye, Jaga-Me, Engineering Good and These Abilities share their journeys, knowledge and insights. The work of many other non-profits, social enterprises, as well as the government studied and shared with the participants to set the right context.
In the workshops that followed, aspirants underwent a holistic curriculum to equip them with the skills needed to develop community projects that are feasible and effective. Under the guidance of our trainers, aspirants learnt how to distil to the root-cause issues of problems through the use of various frameworks. The tried and tested training material and methodology of the Conjunct training programmes worked very well, and the aspirants were slowly getting equipped to design and deliver effective solutions.
The second day continued with training on hypothesis testing, project management, volunteer management and design thinking skills. Aspirants could cement their learning through deliberate facilitation after each training session, where the skills taught were applied to a specific community problem in their assigned cause areas. At the end of day 2, aspirants had the opportunity to visit Rainbow Center, AWWA Senior Community Home and Dayspring HSCA, where they saw first hand the fantastic work of our non-profit partners alongside having a long conversation with them to test and refine their problem statements and ideas. Aspirants were encouraged to discuss ideas and probe deeply. They did not hesitate to do so in the almost hour-long Q&A sessions at each location.
Finally, the aspirants dived into a full-day Scalathon (Social Hackathon) on day 3, where they ideated solutions to community problems and then pitched their project proposals to a panel of YCS grantmakers, Conjunct Consulting staff and external expert judges. It was heartening to see the enthusiasm and effort put in by each team, and the particular attention paid to addressing the needs of the end-user.
At the end of the three days, Conjunct received great feedback from the aspirants. They found the skills highly useful, and that the exposure to the social sector has grounded them in the complex realities of Singapore’s social sector. While the program was jam-packed with workshops, immersion sessions and activities, which were are times overwhelming, the overall sense was that aspirants found it to be a meaningful experience.
None of this would have been possible if we did not have a fantastic team to support us. Apart from the time of the staff at Conjunct, we are very grateful to the team of 13 facilitators. These were experienced professionals (minimum 8-10 years of experience) from the industry who are passionate about working with young people. These facilitators worked with groups of 4-6 aspirants to direct their thinking, guiding them and being their mentors. We are also very thankful for our group of volunteers in the Conjunct training crew. Their adaptation of the curriculum for this programme and fantastic delivery raised the benchmark for skills training. Lastly, none of this would have been possible without the great work and effort of our four interns at Conjunct. Super bright young people themselves, their contribution was invaluable to the success of the programme.
We are grateful to the Youth Corps Singapore for allowing us the opportunity to deliver this programme. All of us were very very enthused by the infectious energy and the sheer brilliance of the young minds. We hope to see a lot more of collaborative work happening between youth, government and community partners. We are sure this will help create inspired, empathetic and skilled youth leaders who will tackle some of Singapore’s most pressing social issues in the future. We wish all the aspirants all the very best, and we cannot wait to see the great work they embark upon!
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