‘Tis the season to follow your dreams?

While many have found other ways to stay afloat, others are still picky about how they put food on their tables

pic by TMR FILE

IS THIS the time to be following your dreams, or just snatch any work you can get?

The pandemic has not only caused many people to lose their jobs, but has also robbed the youth of the career path that they had been carving for themselves.

Take Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) on Tuesday reported as possibly having its funds cut by RM129 million under Budget 2021, affecting its UiTM2025 strategic plan and likely putting the jobs of 600 part-time lecturers and 8,000 education assistants on the line at a time when one needs to scrape up every penny possible.

Apart from the staff, where would this leave the students? With 600 lecturers gone, what would happen to their lessons?

While the government is “threatening” lawmakers that frontliners may not get paid if the budget does not pass, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air raised the argument that it would be bad for Bumiputera students if the budget does get a simple majority vote.

The university’s vice chancellor, however, yesterday responded to TMR’s report and denied any potential sacking of its part-time lecturers.

Anyhow, even before this piece of news broke, we were already seeing young people among whom were probably undergraduates and postgraduates, braving the heat and rain by the roadside trying to sell “mangga asam boi” and iced tea.

Sunburnt and soaked in sweat, they would smile eagerly, hoping that the bright signs they hang on their necks would catch the attention of passing motorists.

With just RM10 per container of mangoes, you would wonder how much they take home after a long day of walking back and forth.

Seeing this “trend” picking up in the Klang Valley is like reality smacking you on the back of your head, of how hard times really are that our youngsters are willing to sell mangoes and diluted iced tea by the dusty roadside.

And how many of them were just a semester or two away from becoming the country’s next doctors, lawyers, music producers or pilots?

Speaking of pilots, most of us should by now have heard of former Malindo Air pilot Captain Azrin Mohamad Zawawi who is now running a food stall in USJ 11.

His “Kapten Corner” stall went viral a few weeks back as he attracted many just by serving food in his pilot uniform.

Azrin is just one of the many examples of those who were laid off from the aviation industry, which was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

They must be creative and take advantage of the power of social media, if they want to continue with the easy, if not glamorous, lifestyle that they were used to.

Meanwhile, a former engineer for a construction company who only wanted to be known as “Bancik” is now a full-time helper with his wife’s “LaukBox CikMah” food delivery business since being laid off last month.

From prepping the ingredients and taking care of the deliveries, the father of two has been promoted to stand over the stove when there are orders for his famous “ayam kunyit”.

Believing that hyped up trendy foods will not last long, Bancik and his wife are keeping their menu simple and original with traditional Malay side dishes.

However, while many have found other ways to stay afloat, others are still picky about how they put food on their tables.

Yesterday, TMR reported that although jobs are abundant in the construction, manufacturing, plantation and agriculture sectors, Malaysians are still not keen to fill up the positions despite their financial woes.

Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha said although the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs offer lucrative salaries to locals, they are very concerned about social status.

“University graduates are reluctant to take up 3D jobs because they do not enhance the skills and knowledge gained throughout their studies,” he told TMR.

Whatever the reasons behind our choice of work are in these unprecedented times, we should all be aware of our individual needs and wants, and what our priorities are.

When it is best to be realistic, pushing the pause button on our dreams until this crisis is over may not be such a bad idea.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.