You Deserve to Explore at 18 Before Taking The Next Step Youth Education and Employment Savings Account Program
The choice between gaining employment or going to college always lies ahead of senior high and senior vocational school graduates when deciding what to do next in their life. Many students in other countries choose to return to schooling after one to three gap years spent on a variety of experiences like employment, international volunteer service, working holiday, or learning crafts and skills from masters to help themselves better know which life direction to take in the future.
In Taiwan, the majority of parents and teachers affected by national customs and cultural assumptions tend to have their children go straight to university from high school. However, the idea that supports such a tendency is changing little by little as diversity and individual development become increasingly valued in the education scene.
Moreover, the Youth Education and Employment Savings Account Program (hereafter the Youth Savings Program) starting from 2017 and promoted by the Ministry of Education (MOE), facilitates career exploration and creates possibilities for young people while freeing them from any financial burden and admission stress. This is achieved under the Employment Exploration Supporting Program through the Youth Savings Account, also known as the Youth Employment Pilot Project (workplace experience) and the Self-Planning Learning Experience Project (learning and overseas experience) through various complementary measures.
“The biggest difference from internships and cooperative education in the past is that the young adults admitted to college are allowed to temporarily either retain eligibility for enrollment or suspend schooling, while they work on the payroll, and spend 2 to 3 years experiencing a real-life workplace,” stated Chun-chuan Wang, counselor and executive secretary of the Special Program Office for the Youth Savings Program. No detail has been overlooked, neither in the cooperation with the Ministry of Labor (MOL) nor in complementary planning by the MOE for schooling and military service, despite the great speed of less than three months from decision to implementation of the program.
In order to engage youth participants in workplace learning under the program, not only shall the government agencies select satisfactory companies and quality job vacancies, but the MOL shall also assist in employment matchmaking, while each company participating shall propose a trainee work program for and assign a workplace mentor to the selected position. In addition to a salary of more than NT$25,000 a month, each youth participant may be granted two subsidies of NT$5,000 respectively from the MOE and the MOL every 30 working days. This means if properly managed, this nest egg will come in very handy for later use in college enrollment or business startups.
Above all, under the Youth Savings Program if complementary measures including military service deferment, admission retention, special admission, individual application, and admission by recommendation and screening are taken, and the youth participants choose to decline their original admission offer, they may apply for admission to another department or school at college level instead.
The number of the Youth Savings Program applicants graduating from high schools has increased year by year from 2,383 at the outset of the program in 2017 to 5,407 as of 2020. The number of the Youth Savings Program participants filling a well-matched job vacancy has also soared, from 744 in the initial year, to 1,521 in 2019, and 1,301 in 2020.
It is believed that there will be an increasing number of young people participating in this program. As they light their way by creating a road map for their own life, they act as tiny pieces of tinder, sparking new ideas in education among younger generations to come.