Meet the Millennial Asian: Over-educated + Under-employed

If you are a Millennial Asian, the newspapers think you are pretty pathetic. Looking at the numbers, you have earned more degrees than anyone else in your family,  are up to your neck in education debt, you are chronically under-employed and will stay so for the foreseeable future.

Yes. Under-employed.

Investopedia defines this phenomenon like so:

Labor that falls under the underemployment classification includes those workers that are highly skilled but working in low paying jobs, workers that are highly skilled but work in low skill jobs and part-time workers that would prefer to be full-time.

The market has few jobs to offer the growing legions of fresh grads and the ones available fail to offer much of anything: little money, little career growth and little in terms of security. These handful of jobs are not what you aspired to back in college. It is highly likely you will be delivering goods ordered online or managing a social media campaign for the local non-profit organisation until a “Real Job” opportunity turns up.

Let’s suppose that you finally get a chance to interview for a “Real Job”.  As a fresh grad  you are facing competition from the people who graduated years before you and have relevant work experience to show for it.

Jobs available in the government sector are scarce, practically impossible to access unless one has a ‘link’ (how I loathe that practice)  and the benefits hardly ever compensate for the dismal pay.

Gordon Orr warns China’s fresh graduates that even the low-barrier, entry-level careers  in bank telling or insurance agencies are going obsolete. Technologies like AliPay and WeChat have streamlined basic banking tasks and banks will soon be a thing of the past – much like post offices.

…there may be new jobs but they are just not the jobs you set your heart on when you went to university: low pay and low security is a poisonous combination of many of the new jobs in China’s “rebalancing economy”.

Orr suggests brushing up on vocational skills that may come into play in the emerging sectors, like learning coding or other such I.T. wizardry. If nothing else, it is suggested that a fresh grad like you should start a business and embrace self-employment as your fate.

The fastest growth category of urban employment in recent years has been self-employment.  While some of this is likely a cute way of describing unemployed, the broader trend that it represents is the growth of small and mid-sized enterprises and their importance to job creation in the economy. 

Next up is the “Has Pakistan overeducated it’s middle class?” article that appeared on Dawn’s website about two days back.  The lack of congruency between the education Pakistani universities are churning out and the jobs available is painfully apparent for anyone who been through a hiring cycle. Not only is the quality of education suspect, the graduates are ill-prepared for the rigours of the job-search and interview process. I am in complete agreement that there need to be university-based career prep centres at both public and private universities. Private universities barely scratch the surface when it comes to preparing their students for the corporate/real world. A mandatory 2 hour workshop in the last week of university does not suffice.  I recommend universities to start students on mandatory courses that cover internship seeking, c.v. writing and interviewing skills from freshman year.

The author, Murtaza Haider,  makes a valid point about how loosely underemployment is tallied and also how faulty the premise is regarding what constitutes a ‘living wage’.

My primary concern is about how the state defines underemployment.

The state considers those working for fewer than 35 hours in a given week as underemployed. This definition assumes that those working for 35 hours or more in a given week are gainfully employed, i.e., they are earning enough to support their families.

The under and unemployment figures are quite meaningless for struggling economies like Pakistan. Even by the government’s estimates, 60 million Pakistanis, 29.5 per cent of the population, live below the poverty line. Experts at Oxford University estimate a much larger proportion of Pakistanis (44 per cent) to be poor.

Thus, boasting about low unemployment rates is rather futile because a large proportion of those considered employed by the government are not earning enough to feed and clothe their families.

Lastly, here is an article from the World Economic Forum warning us that for the millennials post-graduate degrees may be a waste of money.  Lux Alptraum shares that despite belonging to a family accustomed to collecting degrees (the way some collect shares) she ultimately decided not to seek a postgraduate degree.  For her, the math simply didn’t add up!

Every time I’ve considered going back to school, I’ve done a cost-benefit analysis—and for me, that analysis has never worked out in academia’s favor. My law school dreams died when it occurred to me that the kind of do-gooder law I was interested in would likely leave me in debt for the rest of my life (and also when I realized that “liking to argue” is but a small part of a law career). My potential public health degree stopped making sense when I realized the small salary bump I might secure wouldn’t balance out the money—and time–I’d spend getting the Master’s.

As a fellow Millennial Asian, I feel your anguish.

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I also sense your need to reach for the nearest tub of ice cream to drown your sorrows.   Hold off on that for a second.  There has to be a Plan B.

Will it be running our very own Food Truck? Maybe.

Can it be starting up a coaching centre for the chronically under-employed and helping them loosen up via improv sessions?  Could be.

The beacon of hope lies in our ability to carve out careers, create brands  and provide services in emerging markets – despite the nay-sayers and dismal statistics. 

Drop me a tweet @marsonearth.

I write about financial empowerment, digital literacy, and educational technology at my blog called Catalyst Woman.  Who am I? I once described myself as a Communications consultant who conducts trainings focused on Women’s Empowerment, Employability Skills and Educational Innovation.

#1 One Reason for Millennial Women to be Financially Literate

Blog Series: 10 Reasons For Millennial Women To Be Financially Literate

Are you Financially Literate?

Being financially literate goes beyond knowing how much savings one has in the bank; it means possessing the ability for informed financial decision-making.  I will be sharing the top ten reasons why Millennials Women MUST dominate their finances and what that looks like – beyond the jargon.

The Number One Reason for Millennial Women to be Financially Literate

#1 – FOMO is a Trap

FOMO.  Fear of Missing Out.  According to the dictionary :

FO·MO  ˈfōmō/   noun informal     noun: FOMO

  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”I realized I was a lifelong sufferer of FOMO”

The important words in the definition are “social media” and “anxiety”. Social Media posts by other people, especially acquaintances or the random troll,  can be annoying, but Anxiety-Causing?   Turns out this is a real issue – we can literally feel disconnected and dissatisfied with life due to the perceived success and contentment of our peers and idols.

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There is nothing wrong with staying up-to-date with our friends’ lives, but when FOMO sets in, we start comparing and evaluating our lived experiences – unconsciously. That is damaging behaviour.
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If you have ever felt the need to constantly check your Instagram or Facebook Timeline while out with friends, that is what FOMO looks like. The theory is that social media, with its sheer speed and glossy selfies, overwhelms users with imagery that is picture-perfect. In-fact, that is exactly what it is – Too Good To Be True.

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While our rational mind is well-aware of the fact, the subconscious gets triggered by these posts and creates a nervous energy – a nervous energy that is often channeled, at a HUGE disadvantage to your wallet, by going shopping.

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See enough pictures of your ex-boss’s new Ferrari and chances are you are gonna want to a) Buy a Ferrari  or b) Realize you can’t afford a Ferrari  and eat a tub of Chocolate Ice Cream or c) Go shopping and buy yourself another scented candle set to gloss over the feeling of overwhelm.  If this happens enough times, you will be making decisions triggered by outside influences – including how you spend your money- rather than by rational thinking and planning for what suits you best.

Still not convinced that FOMO is dangerous to your financial health?  According to Yahoo Finance, the need to keep up with friends has resulted in 56% of Canadians aged 18 to 30 to live beyond their means.  Their purchasing decisions are the result of social pressure from Instagrammed selfies and Snapchat clips, often with luxury brands popping up.

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So, the number one reason that Millennial Women should be Financially Literate is that FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is a trap.  It is an anxiety-ridden behaviour that often results in overspending that ruins your budget and fills nothing but your closet.
Coming Up Next –>   Cut It Out!  The Expenses! Stick to a Budget! 
Like what you read? Want to ask me a question about personal finance? Drop me an email at talktocatalystwoman @ gmail.com or visit my Facebook page

Work It, Girl: How Tech Has Changed the WorkDay

My browser is overflowing tabs with various articles covering the transformation of ‘Work’ in contemporary times. CatalystWoman I simply can not get enough of this discussion, and despite the different sources, these writings make up a vital dialogue about the future of ‘Work’.  All our academic lives are spent in preparation for our entrance into the workforce; if there is a revolution going on regarding the employment sector, it’s high-time that education gets a thorough appraisal.

Couple of questions:

How relevant is today’s college education?

Are universities teaching employable skills?  Or are they just pacing mechanisms so the job force can be refreshed in a cyclical fashion?

How can online-learning, Massive Open Online Courses and other cheap, digitally-empowered learning tools enable a young person to earn a living without a traditional degree?

Has technology completely rewritten the constructs of gainful employment?

Does telecommuting break the industrial-era confines of the 9-5 workday?

Can video-conferencing and real-time messaging FINALLY rid us of the excessive time-wasting corporate habit of Meetings?

Have the Millennials turned the corner on the traditional office with their adoption of freelancing? Or, is it more accurate to say that the Millennials are adapting to the weak global job market and growing consumerism by ‘going organic’, simplifying their lifestyles and hawking all skills available to make ends meet?

In attempt to find these answers or risk confusing you further, I share snippets from across the web:

Freelancing, contrary to popular belief, is not just restricted to stay-at-home parents and aspiring novelists; it is increasingly a deliberate part of many people’s work routine. Freelancing and it’s twin, Telecommuting, provide workers greater flexibility and varied projects without the limitation of geography.

With 83% of millennials claiming that freelancing is a cornerstone of their career strategy and the dramatic increase in funding of crowdsourcing-centric companies, could we be facing a 21st-century industrial revolution? A workforce shift this substantial has not been seen in 100 years and an Intuit report predicts 60 million people will be contingent workers by 2020. It’s clear that the future of work is changing.

Millennials are less concerned about job security or full-time employment, and more concerned about flexibility, adaptability and variety. They are leaving the full-time workforce to piece together a career path on their own.

Gigwalk

When we combine that sentiment with the constant push in America for entrepreneurship, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that millennials are more free-thinking and independent than previous generations. The idea of climbing up a corporate ladder seems so alien since so many storied companies have ceased to exist in our lifetimes and the process seems so divergent from actually improving humanity.

It also helps that technology has brought down the costs of building our own companies and service organizations. Today, anyone – not just millennials – has this alternative option of simply ignoring everyone and going their own way. The stasis of the world has been replaced with technology-based flexibility powered by the cloud and mobile devices.

Empowerment has a price though. If ever there was a debate to be had in this country, it is that the great projects of our time still do take significant teams to build. Everyone can’t be a founder. While we have a cooperative and community-oriented spirit, that doesn’t necessarily translate into wanting to join someone else’s startup or nonprofit. Indeed, we probably want to start our own.

The Millennial Delusion

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Shortening the work-week leads to more productive, engaged employees  and a dramatic drop in absenteeism- Now is anyone really surprised about that?

“Better work gets done in four days than in five,” he [CEO Basecamp] writes. “When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”

Is the Four Day Work Week Right For Your Company?

The questions keep on coming – as do the observations as we keep pace with the rapid changes in tech and the workplace.  As digital natives, will we be able to retain our hold on technology as a tool for completing tasks?   Now that is a question for next time.