Are millennials the future of our country?

Krishna Alejandrino

Posted at Jun 18 2016 08:06 PM | Updated as of Jun 19 2016 12:28 AM

(Business Mentor Notes: Krishna C. Alejandrino is the executive director of Junior Achievement Philippines, a charity dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Under his leadership, the organization has engaged over 800 business volunteers to serve over 15,000 students. Alejandrino is also the founding executive director of the Registered Marketing Professional and the Registered Business Professional under the Chartered Association of Marketing and Business Professionals)

“Ang kabataan ang siyang pag-asa ng ating bayan,” ("The youth is the hope of our future,”) our National Hero Jose Rizal once said - a quote which we all agree with and often quote when addressing our young people.

However, in this day and age when the rise of the millennials (those 18 to 34 years old) are upon us, some people may find themselves disagreeing with Rizal.

This me, me, me generation apparently has a lot more going for them; this is why despite their many idiosyncrasies which tend to baffle their parents and colleagues, we can count on their creativity, innovation, individuality, and dynamism.

According to the current census, millennials comprise more than half of the Philippine population. Majority of Filipinos are very young - and indeed this means that, if we trust Rizal’s genius, we have a lot to hope for.

Let’s do the math. Today’s millennials in 10 years or so will be the industry leaders and running our country’s future, which could be good or bad, depending on which generation you're from.

But kidding aside, the main question I hope to drive at is this: Are we looking for an exciting economic turnaround when the millennials start running our nation ? Are we giving them enough opportunities and wise advice?

Every generation has its strengths and key characteristics we can all learn from. But what makes the millennials even more promising than previous generations, such as the baby boomers, generations X and Y)? Perhaps one of the best differentiators is their enterprising spirit - and this is really exciting especially in this info-tech age we are in.

According to a recent survey by Deloitte (and further amplified by other news agencies)70 percent of millennials are not inclined to pursue the career paths of their Gen X and baby boomer predecessors.

Millennials reject traditional businesses and choose instead to work independently. Another study suggested that one out of five would quit a job to pursue their own thing: whether a business venture, or a project they are passionate about.

Those who have done so had the following encouraging results: 

  • 90 percent are optimistic about business prospects through December. 
  • 44 percent hired new employees in the year's first half. 
  • 52 percent plan to make new hires between now and the year's end. This prediction about millennials’ optimism is astounding - and if they follow this path, then today’s business leaders definitely has something to learn. 

The Deloitte Millennial Survey entitled ‘Big Demands and High Expectations’ puts it succinctly: 

  • 75 percent believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders
  • 78 percent are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there
  • 74 percent believe businesses have a positive impact in the communities in which they work, including in the areas of : Education, Unemployment, & Health.

Their constant desire for something new, for bold ideas, and their optimism all contribute to a greater entrepreneurial spirit. It’s innate in the millennial generation - we don’t have to spend so much time actually teaching them or spoon-feeding them.

BUT… what do we do having seen what they are capable of?

We have observed for many years in the JA program for middle grade school and high school: more than half of students who have undergone JA Entrepreneurship Programs are interested to be independent and create their own businesses.

And being able to nurture this interest, this desire - in young people - is among the best things we are so humbled and grateful to be a part of.

Birthing new ventures, especially those borne of fresh, unique ideas and a genuine desire to help and give back to others - this is a sign of a truly healthy community.

Just imagine if even half of millennials would choose to have entrepreneurial ventures? How many jobs can be created? How much can it add up to the economic progress?

With better and wider access to modern communication technology, Filipino millennials can reach out more to the vast opportunities of borderless economy.

This is evident in the fact that the new millionaires of the 21st century are no longer middle age executives and baby boomer entrepreneurs. We now see more young people in the list of change-makers or successful business owners; as the interest for entrepreneurship becomes even more accessible and inclusive.

And because the youth are more adept with new technology, they can support in bringing more opportunities and help boost business leadership for their company.

Mark Zuckerberg was at first oblivious to the fact that he was building a giant tech company; he just thought of making something unique and useful for university students to connect. With lots of work and advice from people he trusted, he turned his idea into a marketable piece: a website that allows you to add Friends, post updates, photos, etc… and the rest is history.

Here in the Philippines, Kim Lato founded Kimstore, the country's leading online gadget store - which continues to dominate the market. What may be a simple idea can turn into a successful venture, given hard work, determination and the right advice.

Reese Fernandez will always be remembered for her Rags to Riches initiative, which helped provide livelihood to women in the Payatas area. It was not only a business venture, it was community-based and sought to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged women.

There is so much more to the millennial generation than just gadget obsession and lack of staying put (they love moving around). Given guidance from people who have their best interest in mind — this generation can accomplish so much.

Perhaps the role of the older, wiser generations is to help direct their energies on values and what matters most.

We have to believe in the best of this generation, and be confident that they indeed will be the hope to help lead our country into better days.

If we let them know firsthand that we believe in them and that we are here for them, they become empowered to do the positive change they are capable of.

And what a brand new day that will be… because from an empowered generation, we can expect nothing less.