The Struggle of the Millennial

Image: State Farm

We millennials grew up in a world of established wealth and healthcare, and even enjoyed a brilliant coming-of-age that coincided with the rise of popular technology from the now-indispensable Google search engine (1998) and a plethora of social media, to hardware like the iPhone dynasty and stunning advances in artificial intelligence.

While the older generations often complain about millennials (calling us the strawberry generation), here are some legitimate reasons we should square our shoulders and buck up.


Trump got elected


As we previously showed, the general attitude locally towards the scandal-ridden President-elect can be summed up simply (and euphemistically): Bleah. Practically, the famously mercurial mogul has blamed Singapore for stealing jobs away from America, and his continued opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks likely to sink the transnational deal – bad news for trade-dependent Singapore.

China is starting to bully us


As Trump turns America’s sights inward, the resulting power vacuum in Asia would be filled by China. The Asian tiger recently asserted its authority against Singapore’s wishes when nine SAF armoured vehicles were confiscated at Hong Kong harbour on a tip from the mainland (“undeclared military materials” is the charge). The vehicles were on their way home from a routine training exercise in Taiwan. China’s media voice, the Global Times, suggested an altered attitude towards the republic by saying that Singapore had “walked into the trap” and that the armoured vehicles might be “melted down” if the Chinese people wanted it. Loud and clear, China, loud and clear.

We’re working really long hours


Japan is famous for overwork (and death from it), but Singaporean millennials actually have their Japanese counterparts narrowly beat by numbers, with an average of 48 hours a week, versus Japan’s 46 hours a week. Also shocking is the discovery that 14% of Singapore millennials think they will have to work until the day they die, a scary sentiment shared by 12% of millennials worldwide.

We lack jobs

Around half of Singapore millennials surveyed also felt pessimistic about their immediate career prospects, and were not confident of finding an equally good or better job in 3 months if they lost their present one. Based on September’s Ministry of Manpower statistics, the number of available jobs actually fell below the number of people seeking jobs for the first time in 4 years. Dampeners on the global economy like the Trump presidency, Brexit, and a slowing China have raised resistance to new hires, even as layoffs reached their highest point in seven years. Looking ahead, Singapore looks set to experience a prolonged period of low to moderate growth.

And don’t even get us started on the threat of superbugs, climate change or the increasing social burden as our population ages.


Well, no one’s competing for corners to curl up in. Millennials number roughly a quarter of the world’s population, and with higher education, tech savviness and openness to change, we are also more equipped to make important shake ups happen. If we can humble ourselves to learn from the boomers and Ys how to knuckle down and show grit under pressure, we can at least be their equal in the face of these daunting challenges.

By Vincent Tan