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Changi helps youths spread their wings

Certis Cisco Aviation Security, one of CAG's partners, offers NorthLight students grooming tips as part of Changi Foundation's career development programme.


OFTEN named the world's best airport, Changi Airport is no slouch either in corporate giving.

Changi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Changi Airport Group (CAG), sees the airport not just as a hub for travellers to fly to other destinations, but also a place where the community comes together.

The foundation is focused on helping disadvantaged youths through a variety of programmes and initiatives.

Its main beneficiary is NorthLight School, a specialised school that takes in students who have failed their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).

Shirley Cheong, vice-president of the people team at CAG, said: "Youths are at a turning point. And there is a lot of potential that can be unleashed, if they are set on the right path."

She said certain circumstances or challenges can place youths in a position where they face a lack of opportunities.

"Given those opportunities, we can actually unlock quite a lot of these potential. And once you unlock that, they can become good contributors to society and live very independent lives as well."

Changi Foundation is running four main programmes with NorthLight School.

One of these programmes is the career development programme, where third-year NorthLight students do a five-day job attachment with CAG and various airport partners to gain work experience.

The NorthLight teachers match the students to the various job attachments based on their vocational training. This allows the students to apply the skills learnt in a real world environment.

For example, students attached to Certis Cisco Aviation Security get to interact with passengers and provide them information on what can be taken through security checks. They also pick up grooming tips.

CAG also takes in students under its divisions like the horticultural team. Students get to carry out simple planting and landscape works, and arrange the plants for display.

Since the programme started in 2014, it has expanded from six partners and 33 students, to 18 partners and 71 students last year.

Last year's programme involved more than 110 staff from CAG and its airport partners.

A mentorship element was also introduced last year. Some CAG staff volunteered as mentors to provide an additional layer of support for the students over the five days.

After the career development programme ended, several airport partners offered students a further two-month attachment for their fourth-year Industrial Experience Programme or part-time employment during their school holidays.

NorthLight vice-principal Jayvin Yeo said: "The five-day short stint provides an invaluable experience for our students to understand better, the expectations that an organisation has of its employees, the importance of team work and effective communication with real customers."

She said the students feel a sense of accomplishment after going through the programme.

"Even more important is when they successfully complete the five days, and receive compliments from Changi Foundation and its partners. It boosts their self-confidence and helps them believe that they, too, can achieve success in the future."

In the future, Changi Foundation hopes to broaden the programme to other schools, such as Metta School, where they can expand on their vision of helping disadvantaged youth.

Ms Cheong encouraged other companies who want to do good to first take a step back and understand where their strengths lie to make a bigger difference.

She said: "We are Changi Airport Group, yet we don't just operate as one individual company running a P&L (profit and loss). We generally operate in an ecosystem, with many of our airport partners on board.

"For us, we see this as a very big opportunity to spread this spirit of corporate giving to a larger audience so that we can make a deeper impact on the community."

  • This article is part of a series highlighting Champions of Good who mean business when it comes to corporate giving. Find out at if you have what it takes to be a Champion of Good. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner.