A QUICK search via Google will invite plentiful headlines that shine a negative light on millennials. Martha Stewart calls us, millennials, lazy. Apparently we spend too much time focusing on things that do not matter. For example, Pokemon Go!
As I visited the United Kingdom again for my brother’s graduation, I bear witness to graduates filled with hope, dreams and the motivation to change the world.
Last year, I was in their shoes. In the robe, excited, feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment; I thought the world was my oyster.
“This will be my time to shine.”
But, when I got home, I was greeted with baby boomers telling me I should be equipped with a job, a house, a car and I should realise that I have become part of the economy.
They say I am nothing else but a station in a factory that is highly profit-driven. My job is to make more money for a big corporation, not to change the world.
Quickly, the positive aspirations for a brighter future and better world diminished. But, I have learnt in the course of a year how much both millennials and baby boomers have come to a crossroads.
Based on my personal experiences in life planning with my family, as well as watching big corporations striving to meet the demands of the emerging wave of millennials who will be dominating the job sector and market, there seems to be a paradox. A paradox of wanting the millennials —me and my peers — to be themselves, but at the same time, not be themselves by imitating the baby boomers.
Evidence of such an emergence, and focus on the importance and influence the millennials have in this country alone, needs to be signified.
That the government has made it available for students as young as 21 to intern and be part of the administration through the Perdana Fellow Programme, as well as the boom in the start-up industry, signify more than enough of a difference between the millennials and baby boomers. The availability and rush of countries, big banks and corporations to invest in financial technology (fintech) in itself appeases the millennials.
I do not think my baby boomer father is able to understand the complexities of “Simple”, a fintech bank that does not have a branch that runs it. Even if he does, the ease of it will not appease his sense of security that has been developed over decades.
Economically, millennials are not at an advantage. The soaring prices of properties have made it impossible for me and my peers to dream of moving out from our parents’ home into one of our own.
A study conducted among millennials in Singapore, too, show that we have no sense of loyalty to employers — we job-hop so often and so much, and we look for greener pastures after two years of working in a company.
Or maybe, we realise that we need a better pay to sustain our lives. A lifestyle, too, that is much condemned by our parents.
In the year that I have been back, I have been made privy to articles and talks that address the issues of unemployment by prospective employers and employees.
The employers highlighted the issues of us Malaysian millennials not being progressive or meeting simple demands in the job industry, such as not being able to speak English and being too ignorant of world affairs.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that is not only faced by local graduates, but even some of those from overseas.
While I realise that there has been a rise in identifying problems with millennials facing unemployment, there is still a lack of solutions in tackling the problems.
While I applaud government efforts in allowing students to benefit from their growing interest in business, as well as politics (even the opposition has invested in well-planned internship programmes), there is a lack of push towards differing and non-conventional careers, such as arts, history and the civil society.
If one is to question the demand for such sectors, look around you and witness the rise of organisations and businesses that have come to fill in that space.
In the year that I have been here, I have managed to fill my timetable with talks and events involving educated people with experience and knowledge (heritage talks, history of music talks and seminars, art classes), all yearning and dying to share their skills.
And, more often than not, these events are organised by and for the millennials themselves. And the events, in themselves, should not be made limited to those privileged few only who have the opportunity to attend and learn from them.
But instead, they should be made accessible to those outside the Klang Valley. And the only way to do so is through government initiatives.
But of course, given the knowledge that has been made available, the recipients need to absorb and take on the knowledge with benefits and not to their detriment.
We have so often witnessed the mishandling of knowledge and information, and the manipulation of knowledge at the hands of those who are irresponsible.
This, even more so, amplifies the need for awareness and exposure to equip people with a better sense of judgment. Hopefully then, one problem of the many that are faced by and with the millennials will be solved.
While we can continue to wonder and try to identify the problems that have come following the emergence and dominance of the millennials, also known as Generation Y, we can do nothing but try to cushion the damage, if any even exists.
However, we should not ignore the benefits that the emergence of millennials has brought.
Despite our hours invested online and facing the computer as we grow up, it has brought many benefits and, most importantly, plenty of emerging markets that help to fuel the economy.
The writer, Tengku Nur Qistina Petri, a grand-daughter of former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, is a fresh law graduate trying hard to find her place after studying at the University of Manchester. Always probing into discussions, she most often regrets not doing Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She can be reached via [email protected]