After graduating, Izzah (25) struggled to find work. Because of the pandemic, very few companies in Malaysia were recruiting. But after building her skills and confidence on the TEAM programme, Izzah decided to take the plunge and set up her own coffee business instead.
The pandemic has had a devastating global impact, and young people have borne the brunt of the economic pain. This has made it even harder for those, like Izzah, who have finished their studies and are trying to enter the workforce for the first time.
With soaring youth unemployment, and fierce competition for the limited entry-level jobs available, Izzah’s experience is typical. ‘It was tough to land a job during the pandemic,’ she recalls. ‘All my applications were rejected.’
Then, in the midst of her discouraging job hunt, Izzah saw an advertisement for the TEAM programme on Twitter, and decided to give it a go. ‘When an opportunity lies ahead, you have to grab it with both hands,’ she advises.
Developed by Prince’s Trust International and delivered in Malaysia by our partner Selangor Youth Community (SAY), TEAM is a nine-week full-time training programme aimed at young people aged 18-30 who are not in education, employment or training. There is a particular focus on serving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
TEAM has a strong emphasis on learning by doing, giving participants the chance to develop transferable workplace skills that help them to launch their careers – whether as employees or entrepreneurs. The programme combines hands-on learning activities with opportunities for young people to practise their emerging skills through real-life community projects and work experience placements.
Going for goals
Izzah recalls that the programme particularly helped her develop her communication and entrepreneurship skills. ‘Now I am more confident to communicate, especially when dealing with customers, and more capable in managing my business better,’ she explains. One of the key skills that Izzah learned was around setting goals and making plans to achieve them – skills she has since put to good use.
With jobs in short supply, Izzah decided to work for herself instead. Her decision reflects the growing interest in entrepreneurship among young people – a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic. But when she first launched her coffee venture, Kopi K, Izzah was only able to offer a drive-by collection service from her home. As she sought to build her business, Izzah’s short-term goal was to move to a physical stall within three months. She now has a roadside kiosk serving takeaway coffee, and also offers catering for private events.
Resilience and inspiration
Izzah says that her story is one of resilience in the face of repeated setbacks. ‘Despite applying for jobs and getting rejected, I rose to the challenge and started my own business,’ she says. ‘My inspiration is my late father. He was always positive minded and never gave up’.
Today, Izzah is ambitious for the future, hoping to turn Kopi K into a household name to rival other big coffee brands, and keen to provide jobs for other young people. She says that the skills she learned on the TEAM programme will stay with her for years, and help her on her journey.
‘Team programme only runs for nine weeks, but the impact it has had on me and many others is long-lasting,’ she explains.