Asian youth growing anxious about employment: DHL study

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL Group), has published key findings from an inaugural study on youth employability in Asia Pacific. The three-week online study saw close to 950 responses from young people above 15 years of age across seven countries – Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

This study was done as part of DPDHL Group’s GoTeach program with the support of its global partners Teach For All network and SOS Children’s Villages. 

Christoph Selig, Vice-President, sustainability communications and programs, DPDHL Group said, “Job uncertainties and insecurities abound as most economies in the region continue to battle different waves of COVID-19 even as the pandemic starts to recede with the availability of vaccines.

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“Whilst this inevitably impacts the hiring roadmap for businesses across multiple industries, it is heartening to see our youth recognizing the challenges ahead, but yet remain optimistic about their own aptitude and abilities to secure a job upon completing their education.”

The study found that more than 90% of youth who responded are either “anxious” or “very anxious” about their ability to find a job, with nearly 95% acknowledging that the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the process of job hunting.

Despite this, there is a sense of confidence as well as optimism among these youth: 88% of them believe they are ready to enter the job market, with more than 70% indicating that they expect to land a job in less than six months upon completing their education.

When evaluating an offer, the “opportunity to learn and be challenged” at a job came up top in factors to consider followed closely by “job security”, where nearly 20% of respondents indicated as crucial.

Unsurprisingly, circa 38% of the young surveyed regarded traditional methods such as internships to be useful in helping them land a job although recommendations from mentors and teachers are equally considered to be key enablers.

Online job portals whilst prevalent are viewed as the least useful channel simply due to the lack of the personal connection afforded by working as an intern or a validation by a contact.

Industry preferences

Over 360 youth felt that working as a healthcare professional such as a nurse or doctor is the most recession-proof occupation undoubtedly swayed by the critical roles that these front-liners have played since the global Covid-19 outbreak, whereas a job in the education or government sectors are tied in second.

Interestingly, when asked what their preference as a first job will be, more than 20% picked entrepreneurship compared to 14% who selected healthcare. Indeed, the education, hospitality/ tourism sectors joined entrepreneurship in the top three industry preferences ranking with healthcare trailing in fourth place.

“Young people just entering the workforce have witnessed an unprecedented crisis that would have influenced their view of the working world,” commented Susanne Novotny, Corporate Partnership Manager at SOS Children’s Villages.

“It’s therefore not surprising that most felt that the healthcare industry is somewhat recession-proof but equally, most young people might have preferred to start their own business to have better control over their own lives, careers and destiny.”

Essential skills for the working world

Beyond technical and vocational skills, 45% of those surveyed viewed interpersonal communications skills as key whilst 30% thought language skills to be pertinent in their ability to secure a job.

Designated by the General Assembly in 2014, the World Youth Skills Day is an opportunity for young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, and public and private sector stakeholders to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. This year’s theme is “Skills for a resilient youth”.