Youth have been one of the hardest hit groups by the COVID-19 crisis. Whether as recent graduates, jobseekers or young professionals, young people are often the most vulnerable towards economic turbulence. In Malaysia, the youth unemployment rate is already three times higher than the adult rate.
Studies have shown that these “crisis cohorts” suffer the long-term impact of their “unlucky draw” – it can take up to 10 years to catch up on their salary scale even after the recession is over, which can lead to other “knock on effects” such as depression, delay in setting up a family, and poorer health.
As such, it is imperative that the government considers targeted policies to help young people through this difficult time.
In order to better formulate our policy recommendations, we sought to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by young people in Malaysia during the COVID-19 crisis.
On 25 May 2020, we launched a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns on Malaysian youth.
Our findings confirm the widely held belief that youth are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. We have also found that rural youth tend to be more seriously affected compared to their urban counterparts, with a more drastic income reduction.
Students are also one of the worst hit, as their prospects to continue their study is compromised. For the recent graduates, many lost their internship or job offers as they are often the first ones to be laid off.
Different age groups of youth also experience different difficulties. The younger youth are less established in their career, hence more vulnerable, but at the same time, older youth have more commitments and dependents.
Faced with multiple stressors, many respondents have also accounted how the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health.