WE often label youths as our saviour and future leaders. This was most evident prior to the 14th General Election as youths were touted as game-changers in the political equation.
They responded positively. They went home and voted. University, college students and professionals braved challenges to cast their votes and fight for their rights.
Youths’ spirit inspired the nation.
One year on, the mood has changed.
Youths are dismayed. They are not seeing results.
Recently, Parliament heard that the biggest challenge faced by the government is that youths were unwilling to take up 640,000 jobs.
Malaysians should be proud of their youths, who have showed that they possess talents, attitudes and values to succeed.
Reports on engineers becoming food delivery riders and graduates resorting to freelance jobs dominated the airwaves and social media.
Statements by politicians and union representatives are demotivating. These people cite lack of skills and poor work ethic as the reasons for youth unemployment.
However, these people ignore factors such as selective workforce intake, foreign labour influx and the desire to remain financially prudent.
Malaysians must look at the bigger picture. If we exert strict control on youths, the majority of future leaders will be stuck in a bubble.
The value system is the key to having a right mindset.
Parents and guardians should act as facilitators and supporters of children’s passion and talents.
Traditional values must be cultivated. Educational methods must be recalibrated to suit youths’ needs and lifestyle.
Essential skills and knowledge would still be significant, yet the more crucial piece would be to ensure youths can identify their life goals as well as direction.
Critical thinking and problem-solving are two areas that children and youths must be exposed to.
Youths must understand complications, and resolve intricacies from young.
The entrepreneurial spirit and skills can be catalysts for driving youths.
We may see the emergence of enterprises and businesses helmed by youths if there’s early guidance in management, teamwork, financial planning and strategic analysis.
Our youths are skilled and gifted, although occasionally misguided in their quest to make it big.
But they must be supported by stakeholders.
The government’s National Youth Policy promotes greater youth development.
This is the time for change. We need to be more inclusive in our approach.
Fairness and merit-based employment must be advocated, and equal opportunities must be pursued.
Senior research officer, Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research