PETALING JAYA: A survey of nearly 70,000 youth in South-East Asia showed that the region’s younger generation proved to be adaptable in facing the huge challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a global recession.
How have Malaysian youth managed this?
In conjunction with International Youth Day on Wednesday, The Star spoke to young Malaysians on their thoughts regarding the findings of the 2020 Youth Survey and how they have been coping.
Student Abbernaa Dhevi Kukananthan, 21, believed that one of the best traits of Malaysian youth was their adaptability.
“One great thing I’ve observed among my friends is that many were quick to acknowledge how unprecedented the situation was.
“Many were then able to explore how to equip themselves moving forward, be it through online businesses, event organisation and in tertiary education, ” she said.
“The movement control order (MCO) has taught me that you can never really be prepared for your life to become unhinged.
“You just have to figure out how to move forward.”
She observed that global crises require global cooperation and that there was a great need and urgency to strengthen international relations, especially for basic human needs such as health.
To prepare for university next moth, Abbernaa is learning technological skills to adapt to the new hybrid education.
“With lectures going online, so much technological knowledge is needed and that was my focus during the MCO, ” she said.
“As I have always been passionate about journalism, this pandemic showed me how important it was to have wide-ranging exposure to issues from across the globe.
“I have begun to understand how I need to equip myself moving forward.”
Property developer Cheok Zhan Ming, 27, agreed that Malaysian youth could adapt well, particularly in uncertain situations.
“Millennials are generally ambitious and high achieving, brought about by our Asian culture of proving to our parents that we can do better, ” he said.
The pandemic, he said, taught him to not take things for granted.
“It is a huge wake up call for me that our world is ever changing and we ought to expect the unexpected, ” he said, adding that he took some time during the MCO to focus on self-improvement.
“I developed good habits during that time of stagnancy such as exercising, picking up a new sport and reading more.
“Self development is easy when things slow down around you and you can take a breather, ” he said.
Editorial strategist Nicola Choon, 26, has been honing new digital skills like learning design and hoped to turn it into a source of income in the future.
“Since MCO began, I’ve built and launched my first online course on OpenLearning (an online learning platform where Choon works), and have also kickstarted the Wira Zero Waste Virtual Classroom on Telegram for primary and secondary school kids to learn about the circular economy, ” she said.
“I think many of my friends have shown resilience. They are also building resilience in their communities by mobilising funds and volunteers to help those in need.”
For example, many of her friends had been quick to move their outreach programmes online using apps like TikTok and WhatsApp.
The MCO has shown her that working from home had always been possible.
Public relations executive Sarah Mamat, 24, spent the MCO days on self-development training.
“This pandemic gave me a better understanding of how we need to be alert and continuously adapt to the latest trends and needs, ” she said. “Skills must be relevant to current needs, so that we are relevant to the current trend.”
Sarah emphasised the importance of making preparations for emergencies, which included a focus on skills development, career path development, and also having strong financial acumen.
To assist youth in a post-pandemic world, the government has introduced measures aimed at expanding opportunities and encouraging upskilling.
Among them, the Youth and Sports Ministry last month announced an initiative to help youth affected by Covid-19 pursue high-value agriculture at selected Skills Training Institute of Youth and Sports.
The National Economic Recovery Plan or Penjana which was announced in June also covers the needs of youth.
To address unemployment and increase marketability, the government provides subsidies of RM600 to companies that take on school leavers and graduates as interns or apprentices.
Companies that hire unemployed persons aged 40 and below would be subsidised RM800. These incentives run for six months.
A RM50mil matching grant was announced for gig economy platforms to provide a social safety net system for informal sector workers, many of whom are youth.
The gig economy refers to workers who get paid for flexible work which is normally associated with food delivery, e-hailing drivers and online businesses.
Furthermore, RM2bil will also be channelled from the Human Resources Development Fund to upskill 200,000 unemployed or retrenched youth.