To help Filipino youth be #AseanReady and take advantage of opportunities in the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Asean Youth Community (AYC), a regional youth empowerment program based in Singapore, recently launched its presence in the Philippines through its local partner YGOAL, Inc., a social enterprise specializing in training, working closely with the private sector. It was introduced on 17 September 2018 at Henry Sy Hall in De La Salle University-Manila, as part of the culmination program of the Asean Youth Summit (AYS) 2018 organized annually by the university.
The country’s median age is 23 years old and Filipinos aged 15-34 years old makeup over 45.1 percent of the country’s labor force, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
AYC is actively shaping the way Filipinos understand youth empowerment and 21st-century skills. In the context of common aspiration to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asean community, AYC promotes the idea that young people can develop 21st-century skills and be competitive in the region if they are bridging leaders first in their local communities.
AYC emphasizes the need to facilitate understanding and relevance of the SDGs articulated by local youth themselves. “We have to empower young people to gain skills ready for emerging industries in the Asean, without leaving behind youth in local communities with limited access to opportunities,” said Delane Lim, program chair, AYC.
Lim, a youth development advocate from Singapore is one of those who saw emerging challenges in youth development and decided to take action. He mobilized his network in the public and private sector across the region to gather resources and form a youth empowerment initiative for the 2018 Singapore Asean Chairship. Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, senior parliamentary secretary for Family and Social Development and Education co-launched AYC in Singapore on Aug. 8.
He serves as the chief enabler who believes that “if we want young people with great ideas and solutions to scale, we need to build a strong base of a self-organized Asean Youth Community, to enable horizontal learning and cross-cultural collaboration.” The strategy of AYC is to establish its presence across Asean countries by collaborating with the public and private sector with a common goal of empowering the Asean youth as partners for sustainable growth.
“The ecosystem approach with an entrepreneurial model is designed to provide incentives that sustain youth organizing as a common base to support SDG advocacy operations in the region while encouraging grit to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn to collaborate creatively at doing good beyond good intentions for the Asean community,” said Ibrahim.
To be guided and aligned with existing initiatives for 21st century skills in the 4IR, youth empowerment, and ASEAN community building, AYC actively seeks the mentorship of a network of enablers to coordinate its efforts across regional organizations, such as the ASEAN Foundation, UN Asia-Pacific youth interagency network, Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF).
Though it is not part of the Asean Ministerial Sectoral bodies, AYC promotes ASEAN Community Building as a youth-led civic initiative. To promote ownership of a shared regional identity through language, AYC uses “Asean” (small caps)—rather than “ASEAN” (all caps), the acronym of the intergovernmental association—as a positive indicator that the region is evolving beyond structures towards a more people-oriented community.
AYC is also establishing a mentoring partnership with RMAF to ensure that the generation of emerging leaders in Asean are guided by changemakers across the region who have grounded years of experience in social development.
For its initial campaign, AYC Philippines will hold a three-day pilot boot camp on Nov. 15-17 across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This will serve as an avenue to develop design thinking, creative collaboration, leadership, and community development.
The program will also provide the participants opportunity to practice their learning through community immersion with social entrepreneurs or to apply for internship in AYC’s partner companies in the Philippines and other Asean countries.