ITE duo top global social innovation competition
Two second-year Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students have emerged winners in a global social innovation competition involving teams from 10 countries, placing Singapore top alongside Greece and Slovakia.
The Social Innovation Relay 2020, which is in its 10th edition this year, challenges youth to develop an innovative business concept that addresses a social need.
Mr Arthur Chong, 19, and Mr Ernest Antonio Ching, 18, had earlier earned their right to represent the Republic in the global finals, which was held online on June 16, by beating nine other teams from schools such as Raffles Institution (RI) and Dunman High School in the final national leg of the competition late last month.
A total of 95 teams in Singapore took part in the local competition and 10 made it to the finals.
The two ITE students had come up with the idea of a social enterprise to train and place youth with autism in jobs that matched their skills. Mentors would be assigned to coach the youth on handling work situations for up to a year.
The pair also developed a prototype of a chat support application making use of emojis, to allow youth with autism to communicate their feelings easily to their mentors or work supervisors when facing challenges at work.
Said Mr Chong, who is doing a Higher Nitec in IT applications development: “We have classmates and friends with autism, so we know first-hand the difficulties they face with finding mainstream employment.
“Some of my friends shared the problems they faced during their internship periods – breaking down when under extreme stress, not knowing how to deal with difficult situations – that’s where we got some inspiration.”
The duo said they also drew inspiration from local social enterprise Inclus, which helps people with special needs find gainful employment.
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