Time to have a conversation about youth issues

I would like to applaud the authorities for working hard to overcome youth unemployment in the country.

As a 25-year-old, who recently graduated with a degree overseas, it is comforting to see so many initiatives being set up to ensure success among the youth.

While I am fortunate to have found employment rather quickly, same can’t be said about my peers, who are still struggling to put one foot in the door. A lot of them are highly capable people, who simply can’t catch a break. I believe it’s got something to do with the extension of retirement age. According to my boomer parents, people used to retire at the age of 50 or 55. Now, it is not uncommon for 60-somethings to hang on to their senior management positions, instead of grooming the next generation to succeed them. As a result, even people who have been in a job for a decade are unable to climb up the career ladder; there is simply no available vacancy at the top.

Then, there is the state of the job market. Yes, it is true that beggars can’t be choosers. In the current climate, we are lucky to even land a job – any job. But if we go by what fresh graduates earned just a decade ago, what we are offered is pale in comparison. Some get paid BND300 for a position that could easily be filled by a high school leaver; others with slightly higher salaries are made to assume so many daily tasks that the arrangements come across as exploitative.

More often than not, we find a job that is far removed from what we studied at university. It is nothing new; my parents could attest to that. But it doesn’t change the fact that if we want to see a better workforce in the future, there is an urgent need to match abilities to jobs. Because as it stands, most of us newly-graduated youth are left wondering if we should have picked an “easier” field for our four-year programme. Sure, for aspiring doctors and engineers, there are no alternatives but to follow the academic pathway. But for the rest of us, we may as well have done a women’s studies course and still end up in administration.

Our country is pushing aggressively for the whole-of-nation approach in tackling pressing issues. I believe it is high time to have a conversation surrounding the dilemma facing the youth. More importantly, there need to be youth involvement because who knows what we’re facing better than us?

Local Youngling