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“I’m losing my 20s to a pandemic” Malaysian Youth Share Their Worries About The Future


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Source: Adobe Stock & GenBiz

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Diplomas used to be a highly coveted certification. But decades later, society’s expectations increased hence degrees are now the minimum requirement to get a decent paying job.

It puts pressure on youths nowadays especially those who are entering the workforce. A survey done by City and Guilds on 1,000 employers showed that a large majority of them believe the current education system is not on-par with the needs of business.

In addition, the survey also revealed that 60 per cent of employers believed that young people’s employment expectations are too high and they do not understand what employers are looking for.

Chart Up

From everyday conversations with people in my age group, I realised that there are people who expect high income with minimum job effort. But there are also others who argue that they expect high paying jobs because the cost of living is increasing and there are unfair job requirements with low pay. They said:

“Minimum wage should not be this low especially in this era, it’s not enough.” 

With Malaysia’s minimum wage reportedly standing at RM1,200 monthly and RM5.77 hourly, it’s true that it’s not enough to sustain yourself.

I remember my father telling me “if you want to live a decent life in the city, you need to earn at least RM5,000 to pay living expenses (rent, bills, etc.) and have enough left to pay for personal expenses”.

It’s pressuring and worrisome because graduation is coming up and I’m about to enter the workforce, especially since I’m still a full-time student and my working experience is limited.

Stress Worry

Maybe it’s just me?

I wanted to find out if everyone else shared these uncertainties so I sent out a google form to gather responses. The respondents include those who are students, unemployed, employed, or studying and working, and pseudonyms were given to secure their identities. Here are some of the worries they shared:

Always Crying, student, age 24. 

As a student, I am worried about finding a job that makes me happy. I feel that society often says we are too soft/sensitive and that we are often looked down upon and pressured to prove ourselves in the workforce in order to be taken seriously.

Anonymous, student, age 21

Where am I going to work, the cost of living (ie how much to get my own place + support myself), how to get insurance, how to pay taxes??? As a student, I am thinking about whether I should continue my education (ie Masters) or be employed, and if I choose to seek employment will I able to get a decent job quickly during this pandemic? 

Anonymous, studying + working, age 22

The thought of losing my 20s to a pandemic is worrisome. I worry that I won’t get a job easily. I think it’s unrealistic to want a fresh graduate with years of experience cause they apply to get experience. Personally, I feel like Malaysian companies overwork their staff and their pay doesn’t justify that amount of work.

Katelyn, unemployed, age 24

After graduating from university, the first thing is to get a job. The older generation always emphasises that we should accept the first ever job that gets back to us. The question is: Are we going to work just for the sake of work? Or are we going to find a job that will motivate us to work really hard for which suits our passion and dream?

As someone who’s unemployed, I want to find a job that really suits my passion and dream. Besides, it is even challenging for people with special needs. They just look on the physical appearance and not the potential they have in the first place.

Anonymous, studying + working, age 24

Being in school, we have a schedule telling us what to do, we have teachers who are there to guide us. After graduation, there is no more syllabus or teachers, we gotta figure out what to do and when, and we gotta figure it out on our own. I think the expectations are mainly digitally centred, as society deems the younger generation tech savvy. 


Most of the respondents share similar worries where they are afraid they might not find a job or get stuck with one that they don’t feel is fulfilling enough. To help these respondents with similar worries, some gave words of advice:

Always Crying, student, age 24
The advice I’d give to others that I’m currently giving myself – choose yourself over others. Prioritise your mental health. Try not to internalise everything bad that happens to you because it can break you. Ultimately, you are in control of your life so be nice to yourself.


Anonymous, studying + working, age 22
Take your time in your youth to do as many things as you want, try new things, gain new skills and find out more about yourself.


Anonymous, student, age 22
Honestly, just always do your best in everything. As long as you’ve tried your best, that’s all that matters. As uncertain as most of us are, I’m sure everything will eventually fall into place! 🙂

You Got This

To everyone who is struggling, the day when you stand firmly on your feet will come! To the older generation, what do you think of these worries?  Do you have any advice you can give to the youths?

Screenshot 2021 01 21 At 4.22.09 Pm




Source: Tenor
Source: Tenor
Source: Tenor
Source: Tenor

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