Covid-19 pandemic has been affecting every global citizen regardless their background. Even first world countries like USA is collapsing during this time; from governance to the livelihood of Americans. This country that used to lead the global economy has recorded 5 million job losses in just 2 months.
In Malaysia, according to experts – unemployment will see a rise from 3.9% to 5.5%. About 2 million (including youths) will be unemployed in months or weeks to come. Many companies in Malaysia has taken measures like retrenchment, complete shutdown of business, pay cut to sustain employees and business. Of course, this decision will not bring a smile to any labour force as they struggle to make ends meet.
Though there are companies who are still running their businesses throughout the crisis, many employees are uncertain of their jo security as the employers might take the decision to retrench at any point of time. The job market is unstable, many youths are badly affected by this especially those who are small business owners. Researchers, experts and minister have highlighted that among the contributing factors of youth unemployment are insufficient skills or education, lack of working experience and skill mismatch.
Malaysia Youth Council or Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM) are in discussion and have been executing plans with several agencies and companies to lend a helping hand to youths. Amidst brainstorming and developing programs, we ponder upon the question – “how can we equip the youths to face the working world and seize available opportunities?”. One would need to understand how manage their finance in order to sustain or develop their career and making decisions that will enhance their life. It is important to implement ideas or longitudinal programs that will impact each youth positively. Unfortunately, many parties are in chase of achieving targets or conducting many events within a year to show off their success. It is about time we change the way we think and focus on providing the solid platform for these youngsters to stand on.
With recent discussion done with representatives from MBM and SME-BNM, we all agreed that (i) finance literacy is essential for every youth to know. Most youths aren’t sure on how save money or how to use their savings for investments. It is common to hold that cup of Starbucks for Instagram rather than investing on a property that will be their permanent shelter in future. Equipping youths with finance literacy will also allow them to value their earnings, applying for unnecessary loans and becoming bankrupt with multiple credit cards. Furthermore, it is also important to have basic economy knowledge (every citizen should know too) on how GDP works or matters that contributes to the growth of a country’s economy. Indirectly, this will also create awareness to buy locally produced products.
Besides that, enriching (ii) soft skills and cultivating (iii) lifelong learning mentality are key driving elements that can distinguish one individual with another. From common sense, communication to emotional intelligence can indirectly contribute to development of a healthy mental and good being. Education like basic psychology, public speaking, organisational communication, writing are few subjects that should have been focused from schooling level. The Ministry of Education plays an extremely important role to restructure syllabus and it is always the best move to change because the world never stopped evolving and we should to as the generation to come will be able to experience life through quality education system. Adding on, people who are willing to learn or with a growth mindset believe that their basic qualities and abilities are things they can cultivate through effort and persistence. This mindset leads not only to a passion for learning and personal development, but also confidence and a resilient sense of self in the face of adversity and criticism. These two elements are the toughest to instill but by constantly reminding and offering some online lessons will be a great help for the ones who are interested to expand their knowledge.
The MCO-CMCO period has increased the usage of technology and the youths should learn on (iv) adopting digital age as this is the perfect time to sharpen one’s skills. This pandemic has taught us that it is possible to get things done while working from home. We all have adapted this new norm and to be on top of the game, youths can learn something new so that their skills will be useful in future job applications. For instance, learning coding, digital marketing, UI/UX, video editing or SEO – certainly, will add brownie points to resume. Employers will look into skills like these and you will be the right candidate as you have vast knowledge on key things that are needed today.
Finally, fostering (v) entrepreneurship among youths will give them the courage to face good and bad economy situations. There are only a handful that may have the knowledge on how to sustain a business. Many youths close their newly opened business in just 3-6 months. This is mainly because they don’t have perseverance and proper guidance. Being an owner of a brand, product or a service comes with heavy responsibility. From managing finance to establishing strong brand in the market, needs many years of experience or at least theoretical lessons. Plus, with entrepreneurship, leadership comes naturally as it requires one to lead and execute the idea and plans. Entrepreneurship will not only create individual business owners but with proper planning, forming partnerships in businesses can assist to retain a brand or product as it wouldn’t burden a sole owner to run the show.
The collaboration program with SME-BNM is currently being finalised and the team has decided to organise webinars that will educate youths on the 5 important foundations as discussed above. MBM team are working closely with government bodies and private sectors in order to curb unemployment issue among youths. Currently, HSBC offering PROKENS – Employability Skills Training (EST) for Malaysian youths in partnership with MBM. There are potential internship opportunities await trainees who complete the full program. The training program includes soft skills training, resume writing, interview skills, career guidance and digital entrepreneur skills designed to elevate employability skills. The program is open to all Malaysians, 19 – 26 years old, currently unemployed or working part-time and limited to 300 participants. Register by 28 August 2020 at http://bit.ly/prokens2020. For timely updates on similar programs, all youths are encouraged to follow MBM on Facebook.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
MALAYSIA YOUTH COUNCIL
Date : 9th June 2020