Two-thirds of Gen Z in Malaysia want to start own business

KUALA LUMPUR: About two-thirds of the Generation Z in Malaysia want to start their own business after they have gained sufficient work experience and capital in the job market, according to a study by the Asian Institute of Finance (AIF).

The findings of the study issued on Tuesday showed that Generation Z is more business-minded than employment-oriented over the longer term. 

“More than six out of 10 (63%) plan to start their own business either on a full-time or part-time basis. They believe the risk of running a business is more challenging than the security of a full-time job. 

“Most of them (85%) will, however, pursue their business venture interests only after having acquired sufficient work experience and capital from full-time work. This speaks to their strong sense of self-reliance and adaptability,” it said. 

The study entitled “Tomorrow’s professionals: Generation Z in Malaysia” also showed that they are enthusiastic about overseas employment, with Singapore, Australia and the UK the top destinations.

The survey concentrated on individuals aged 16 to 21 years who are old enough to understand and address issues relating to their career plans and aspirations. This report is based on the key findings from a comprehensive online quantitative survey and a series of in-depth qualitative interviews. 

AIF CEO Dr Raymond Madden said this was the first study of its kind in Malaysia on Gen Z and how they will fit into a talent landscape that is rapidly evolving due to rapid developments in technology. 

“The report should provide senior management and HR with vital insights into Gen Z and enable them to be better equipped to engage with and integrate this generation into their organisations,” he said. 


The study found that the most compelling reason behind the Gen Z's desire to become entrepreneurs is monetary.  Many believe entrepreneurship has a higher earning potential than employment with a company. 

For others, it is a source of additional income to supplement a full-time job, implying a willingness to work long hours. 

For more than one-quarter (26%), it is the opportunity to pursue a dream to build their own legacy and achieve success. 

They also see owning a business as an opportunity to, not only develop themselves, but to be in a position to provide for their family and contribute to society. The independence and flexibility that comes from owning a business ranks relatively low among their motivations. 

Post-graduate study

The study revealed that more than half of Generation Z in Malaysia aimed to get a post-graduate degree and nearly 30% planned to obtain doctoral qualifications. 

For those studying business or economics, a career in the financial services industry (FSI) is the most preferred choice, followed by other professional services. 

The AIF study, eaims to explore the professional aspirations, expectations and readiness for working life of Generation Z individuals in the country. Over 900 (978) Gen Z youths aged between 16 to 21 years in Malaysia took part in the survey. 


The report suggests that Generation Z individuals have a strong streak of independence, and are confident and highly adaptable to change.

Having grown up in a digitally enabled environment set in a rapidly "virtualising" world, they are not daunted by the challenges of a world on the threshold of a technological revolution with far reaching impacts.

In fact, their natural affinity with digital technologies will redefine established notions of work and the workplace.

The executive director & advisor, human resources of UOB Malaysia, Lee Voon Seng, said besides digitisation,which will become a basic hygiene factor for Gen Zs, “companies which are committed to building a robust developmental organisation, with collaborative leader-coaches, will be best placed to win the war for Gen Z talents”.

Maxis Bhd's  head of people and organisation, Adzhar Ibrahim said: “Our job at Maxis is to create a strong digital mindset and a sense of purpose that today’s Generation Z, as well as older Generation-Z-At-Heart, feel they can relate to. 

“We must find a balance between core organisational principles and today’s digital reality,” he said.

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