BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen has urged youth to step out of their comfort zone and create their own opportunities as the jobs they wish to pursue may no longer exist in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects will put youth’s resilience to the test, he said in a sabda at the BIBD Youth Empowerment Summit on Saturday.

Citing 2019 government figures where the unemployment rate stands at 6.8 percent and youth unemployment at 21.3 percent, HRH said there is no doubt that youths face a future marked by a greater sense of uncertainty.

“We need to realise that the challenges of our generation face will not be the same as before. Therefore, we also need to be adaptable and resilient.

“I challenge you to create a different set of opportunities for you and your peers, beyond what is currently available, rather than just waiting for a comfortable job, or a corporate ladder to climb,” he told over 300 youths who gathered at the two-day summit.

HRH believes that Brunei’s youth can build new corporations that will become “future engines of our society”.

“The youth, with their vibrant energy and fresh perspectives, can contribute vitality and creativity to emerging social and economic challenges that Brunei face.”

HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen speaks to students at the BIBD Youth Empowerment Summit’s ‘Youth Make an Impact’ exhibition: Photo: Infofoto

He said youth-led organisations have come up with ideas and solutions to tackle issues such as public transport, food security and sustainable energy.

“These young people should be recognised for the work they are doing to create real change in our society – change that will make an impact not just today, but also to help us deal with the challenges of the future.

“We want to develop new industries that will future-proof our economy. One example is investing in our creative industries. This was an issue close to my late brother’s heart,” HRH continued.

The prince further said there are a lot of young people in Brunei who are passionate about the arts and have started their own creative agencies and production companies.

“They have moved beyond the usual path and out of their comfort zone to make a change.”

Speaking on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said businesses, jobs and personal well-beings have all been affected.

“Businesses have had to shut down and schools suspended, leading to socio-economic disruptions of current structures and demanding us to consider how best to operate in this new normal.”

HRH also praised youth volunteers who helped people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic — from distributing food supplies to healthcare workers to raising funds for communities.

“However, this spirit of identifying the needs in the community is only the beginning, working hard to fill the gap is what will set you apart when you leave school or graduate from college.

“The results you obtain and the certificates you received will not be as significant as working for a greater purpose that you are passionate about,” he added.

BIBD chairman YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin speaks at the BIBD Youth Empowerment Summit held at the Jerudong International School Arts Centre. Photo: Infofoto

Delivering his remarks during the summit at Jerudong International School, BIBD chairman YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the summit provides a platform for youth to learn from young role models, as well as an opportunity to interact with industry players.

He said the summit’s theme of ‘It’s Your Turn!’ is a call and reminder for youth that they can make a positive impact now.

“This summit hopes to encourage everyone to start taking action now because we do not need to wait to hold a certain position or land a certain job to start making our mark,” said YB Dato Dr Hj Md Amin Liew, who is also the second minister of finance and economy.

Organised by Curious Mind, the summit featured 50 speakers, including international experts who spoke via teleconferencing on topics such as future job market trends, developing resilience in an uncertain world and mental health.