PETALING JAYA: Despite showing resilience in adapting to the rapidly changing and turbulent times, Malaysian youth need to keep adjusting quickly or face difficulties in an environment with a global recession, said youth leaders.
They said one way to help youth was to support them with opportunities for growth and remove barriers that hinder their progress.
One major step is to include more youth in decision-making positions, said Qyira Yusri, co-founder of youth empowerment movement Undi 18.
“Too often in this pandemic, announcements were made hastily and many youth, especially university students, were left struggling.
“If youth were roped in on the discussions, we probably could reduce the chaos, as well as have genuine engagement, ” she said.
The 2020 Asean Youth Survey by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Sea Insights showed that while technology has been a key enabler during the pandemic, Internet quality was a commonly cited constraint to remote working in the South-East Asian region.
Qyira supported this finding, saying that it was also a recurring topic at the recent Parlimen Digital event organised by Undi 18.
“A concern that was raised was can the Internet be a human right? Even for urban youth, Internet access is still an issue, be it from connectivity or access to devices.
“It is key for institutions and the government to take into account these limitations and constraints when designing policies and contingency plans surrounding the pandemic, ” said Qyira.
On how youth have reacted to the pandemic, she said: “Many have lost opportunities and had to make drastic decisions in their life, affected by either sudden unemployment or the increase in cost of living.
“But there are also folks who discovered opportunity amidst the crisis and have pivoted their businesses and plans to expand and scale, showcasing a powerful culture of growth mindset.”
Qyira believed the impact of the pandemic would not subside anytime soon. Thus, she said youth need to proactively look for opportunities either in pivoting their work or by expanding their areas of work and trying new things.
“There is going to be an economic recession unlike anyone in my generation has seen before, and it’s imperative for us to be prepared for it, ” she said.
Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha said that Covid-19 proved to be a game changer in accelerating the digitisation of everyday life, the economy and work. But the youth were well prepared to adapt to this new world, he said.
“Gen Z, born after 1995, are technologically aware. This makes it easier for them to adapt quickly into the digital world, ” he said.
Noting that many youth were financially affected when Covid-19 hit, Jufitri said they need to have strong financial literacy, keep to a moderate lifestyle and cultivate a culture of savings and investment.
To help with this, Jufitri said they could apply for online financial literacy classes organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry and Malaysia Financial Planning Council.
“Youth need to gain a wide range of knowledge and skills, whether soft or hard skills, which are a prerequisites for success in the gig economies, ” he said.
Furthermore, a reading habit, design-oriented and creative mindset needs to be cultivated.
Jufitri urged youth to take Penjana packages by the government to start businesses, develop the agriculture sector and improve skills.
He advised them to take advantage of the one-stop portal for youth ebelia.iyres.gov.my to apply for Penjana packages in the form of business grants, training as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.
Medical student Ian Soh, who got together with friends to found #MoreViralThanTheVirus to fight Covid-19 misinformation, said many young people started Covid-19 initiatives to help the community.However, they were hampered by a lack of support. He urged government agencies, healthcare stakeholders, celebrities and influencers to support these youth initiatives.
Soh believed in getting youths to join the fight against Covid-19.
“With the youth of today being the generation of tomorrow, young people should no longer be positioned merely as targets but rather as equal stakeholders, ” he said, noting that the #MoreViralThanTheVirus movement has grown into a full-scale initiative represented by youth in 100 countries since it began in March, reaching out to educate the young about Covid-19.