Interview by Daniel (he/him), 26 QLD
My journey to amplify the voices of young people in the Asia-Pacific region – and unpack the key issues affecting all of us.
Of all the places I thought I might someday go; India was not one of them. Not out of neglect – rather, I struggled to imagine a situation where I’d ever need to visit.
I’ve spent a lot of time since high school working for youth programs and organisations. My focus: get more young people involved in decision making and politics – with an emphasis on international relations. This, however, was on a whole different level.
I visited Chennai this last September. It happened quickly, just six weeks’ notice – and I still can’t believe it. Neither can my friends or family. You sent this guy over? The pale nerdy guy with allergies, glasses, and a tendency to get sunburnt?
The assignment: represent Australia at an international conference. The goal: to make connections, share ideas, and find a way to capture what I learned. The reality: meeting incredible people from across the Asia Pacific.
The only way I can grapple with the details is to write about it.
I met Gaurav on my second day in Chennai. We were both at the same conference for the same reason – to meet young people. More than anything, Gaurav made me feel welcome. Like so many young people I met in India, he seemed genuinely excited to host us and start a conversation.
The other thing I noticed about Gaurav was that he carried a camera and microphone with him. He was a content creator, making videos for his YouTube channel.
Friendly, full of interesting stories and comfortable in front of the camera. It was these qualities that made me eager to speak to Gaurav.
What is the number one issue affecting young people in your community?
Jobs. People are educated, but the jobs they want aren’t available right now. So, whatever they are getting, they’re taking, even if they don’t like it.
Also, health. Young people aren’t taking care of their health. Health comes first.
Why do you think there is an unemployment / job market issue right now?
I think it’s mostly the population. The population is very high. And the Indian government should be more organised. The Government should be able to identify which groups and communities need jobs, and what kinds of fields people are interested in.
We should be getting more of an education and training from the very beginning of school. There should be more encouragement and career guidance from schools.
Tell us more about your personal experience with education. Have you found a job?
Yes. I graduated in 2019 – in science, with Honours in Chemistry. But what did I do? The only jobs that are available are for railways, banking, etc. I didn’t have many options, so I left. I pursued an interest in stock market and finance. The things I learned and now use didn’t come from school – they came from YouTube.
The thing with me was, I got to know this from YouTube only, right. There are many ways to earn your living. So, I think these things should be introduced at a very young age so that young people could have a clear vision.
Finally, do you think meaningful work is the way of the future, and does that seem achievable?
Yes, we agree on the goals. Meaningful work is the most important objective. Everyone wants to do something that adds value in themselves.
Gaurav describes unemployment as the top issue affecting young people, citing a lack of job opportunities despite education. He expresses difficulty in identifying a career path due to a high population and a lack of organisation.
But more importantly, Gaurav describes an issue with finding work that is significant and meaningful. Young people are taking any jobs they can get, “even if they don’t like it.” Different types of work may be meaningful for different people. In Gaurav’s case, work is meaningful when it aligns with your education and experience.
His comments about YouTube are interesting and speaks to the ways technology has impacted all aspects of our lives. The internet is a great equaliser – with the potential to make education accessible and free to more young people. YouTube is a valuable resource for learning – relatively uninhibited by Governments or national borders. Young people in developing countries, who have fewer opportunities to upskill, have the most to gain. Today, India is the top consumer of YouTube worldwide, with the greatest number of users.
It isn’t surprising that Gaurav identified meaningful employment as an issue. We’ve heard it before –all across the world. Different people, different circumstances, different contexts – but all young people share a similar frustration.
Australia is not immune to these troubles either. Mental health is a crisis in Australia – with more young people reporting constant work-related stress. We’re also settling down and buying homes much later – meaning our work life now shoulders more of the burden. More needs to be done to ensure young people aren’t just employed – but feel empowered within their workplace. That’s exactly what we were here in Chennai to discuss.
After the interview, I was feeling pretty inspired – I was already beginning to think of ways we could connect our people and services.
Thank you, Gaurav, for your time, and for making me feel so welcome and appreciated.
Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio