Youth highly optimistic despite global uncertainty – study

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Youth highly optimistic despite global uncertainty – study
While lack of access to education, skills, experience, and decent work remain, the opportunity to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to succeed is also present

MANILA,Philippines – Young people from large global cities remain highly optimistic about future career opportunities despite changing global political and economic landscapes, according to a recent study by Citi Foundation.

Aneth Lim, director for public affairs and corporate citizenship at Citi Philippines, said the youth’s optimism was grounded in the belief that their ability to get an education, achieve professional goals, and have opportunities for professional success are better than those of their parents. 

“This optimism holds true despite the changing political and economic landscapes. When we did this survey, we were undergoing (the) intensifying global refugee crisis, we had the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, and the US presidential elections,” Lim said on Saturday, September 16, during the 2017 Manila Social Good Summit

The study, titled “Pathways to Progress”, was conducted between November 2016 to January 2017 and collected over 7,000 responses globally from participants aged 18-24 years old. It was conducted across 45 cities and 32 countries.

Lim added that higher levels of optimism were likewise observed for youth in developing cities. 79% or about 8 in 10 individuals from developing markets agreed that there are opportunities to succeed in their preferred careeers compared to 64% of respondents from developed cities.

In addition to this, Lim said about 91% of respondents in Manila agreed with this statement, ranking 3rd among the 32 countries surveyed.


However, Lim said barriers to achieveing career goals such as high unemployement rates, still exist among the youth. 

“Your generation faces an unemployment challenge. In all corners of the globe from developing countries to developed countries, we see persistent youth unemployment at 13% or higher. What’s worse is that the number of employed young people – 156 million – who live in extreme poverty, despite having a job often can be found in developing countries like the Philippines,” she said.

The study also revealed a mismatch between the youth’s career aspirations and current jobs held. 

Source: Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017

While most young people aspired to work in technology and science industries, arts and entertainment, and professional activities, most continue to work in the sales and retail, or service industries.

This is perhaps brought about by the lack of opportunity and experience, which were considered to be key factors in finding a job. 

As mentioned in the report, work experience as well as professional and social connections were the most cited needs for youth looking for work. However, perceived access to these was not equally distributed, with cities in developing countries placed at a disadvantage. 

Source: Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017

“Whether you go to Manila, Mumbai, Nairobi, Jakarta, Lima, Panama City and Delhi, if you ask the youth, they’ll say, “I wish I could be apprenticed but there’s just no opportunity for me.” There is a mismatch between the demand for opportunities and supply,” Lim said.

Majority of the survey’s respondents also believed college was necessary to be successful, with 67% of respondents agreeing that higher education is a key factor to success. 

Source: Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017

Despite this, majority also cited a lack of access to higher education. “What’s unfortunate is that an even higher number, that’s 69%, believe higher education is beyond their financial means. This inequality is especially acute in developing countries like Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Mumbai, and even here in Manila,” Lim said.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Source: Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017

But depsite the gaps in opportunity, experience, and education, the study said the youth’s entrepreneurial spirit remained strong across all cities surveyed. About 69% aspired to own their own business while 70% agreed that doing so would be a better path to success over working for someone else. 

76% of the survey’s respondents also cited willingness to work long hours and take risks to achieve career goals. 

Lim added that 89% of respondents in Manila also dreamed of owning their own businesses. In addition to this, 93% of youth respondents in Manila said that their opportunities for professional success are better than their parents’.  

However, only 44% of the survey’s respondents globally were currently trying to start their own business. Lim also said the report showed a low of 6% were actual entrepreneurs at present, with lack of education and skills considered main barriers to achieving goals. 

Results further showed that 68% of young people believe it is more difficult to start a business at present compared to the time of their parents. More specifically, 54% of the study’s respondents were concerned that new businesses are not likely to succeed in their city.


While hurdles to education, skills, experience, and decent work remain, Lim said the study also showed a chance to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to succeed. 

“We are left with a portrait of incredible optimism and potential amongst young people despite numerous gaps between their expectations and hopes and the reality of their situations… We see a pressing need is to help these young people find pathways to progress and help connect them with the opportunities to succeed,” she said. 

Providing youth with employable skills through training, mentorships, and leadership development programs can help close this gap. For instance, Lim said that Citi Foundation in the Philippines will launch a learning program with the University of the Philippines (UP) Foundation, which will be developed and tested in UP Pampanga this year. 

“This program will focus on entrepreneurial courses, and understanding that some of the potential students are already working or running their business, they can sign up for one or two certificate courses. They can (also) later choose to earn enough credits to qualify for a degree,” Lim told Rappler. 

She added, “Most critical is opening the opportunity for young people to get their first job. That really spells economic success and tests them on the right path.”

Citi Foundation, corporate citizenship arm of Citigroup, Incorporated commissioned global market research and consulting firm Ipsos to do the survey.

The study was built on existing research that explored the economic prospects and pursuits of young people. It also aimed to study the youth’s desired careers, availability of resources to connect to employment opportunities, and obstacles faced in achieving career goals.

Results were collected in over 32 countries across Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. – 

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