30 September, ISKANDAR MALAYSIA – YB Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Minister of Youth and Sports was briefed on the comprehensive youth development agenda and achievements in Iskandar Malaysia during his official visit to the region at IRDA’s office and the Johor International Youth Hub, today.
YB Syed Saddiq praised IRDA for having a significant focus on youth development in Iskandar Malaysia through its various improvement and empowerment initiatives such as the Johor International Youth Hub (HAB), Pusat Orang Desa Iskandar Malaysia (IMPOD), Iskandar Malaysia Youth Empowerment Fund (IMPower), Johor Student Leadership Council (JSLC) and Youth To Biz (Y2B) amongst others.
“At present, around 60% of Iskandar Malaysia’s population is made up of youth and hinging on its vision to be a Strong and Sustainable Metropolis of International Standing in the near future, it is essential for this group of future leaders, professionals, and citizens to grow as fast and be able to participate in the growth of the region,” said Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).
With that in mind and guided by the Iskandar Malaysia Comprehensive Development Plan (CDPii) and the Circle of Sustainability that stresses on the element on inclusivity in the society, a long list of initiatives and programmes have been carved out just for the youth in the region which have yielded impressive results.
A popular venue for youth activities and programmes in the state of Johor, the Johor International Youth Hub or ‘HAB’ is one such example. It is a platform for the youth community to gather, exchange ideas and organize recreational activities in line with the interests and demands of today’s youth generation.
In less than 2 years since opening in January 2017, more than 6,000 visitors have visited and/or utilized various facilities offered at the HAB, located in Hutan Bandar MBJB with more than 4,500 youths have been involved and participated in various youth programmes there.
“HAB is about youth empowerment where the youth are involved in all stages in its development from planning, designing and moving forward in sustaining the HAB.”
“The Iskandar Malaysia Youth Council was then formed, and with the support and advice from government agencies and related stakeholders, they are here to ensure that HAB has obtained insight from various key stakeholders particularly the youth community, while at the same time meets the intended objectives and delivers the planned outcomes,” explained Datuk Ismail.
When it comes to creating enterprising youth, the Pusat Orang Desa Iskandar Malaysia (IMPOD) is an effective learning platform for rural youth communities to increase their standard of living through entrepreneurship, which also acts as a place to disseminate information on available opportunities in the region. This RM1.72 million project is expected to engage youth in 6 different villages around Iskandar Malaysia.
Going hand-in-hand with IMPOD is the Youth to Biz (Y2B) initiative, a grant which increases youth participation in entrepreneurial endeavors especially in new and trendy conceptual businesses. With around RM2 million worth of grant ready to be distributed, this initiative targets to create more than 80 new entrepreneurs and 200 job opportunities amongst the youth.
For youth who desires to make a difference in the community, the Iskandar Malaysia Youth Empowerment Fund (IMPOWER) is a grant, worth RM3 million in total, specifically designed and offered to the youth to empower them in implementing programmes that will enhance the quality of life of the local community. More than 20,000 youth are expected to benefit from the targeted 170 youth development high impact programmes that will be implemented within the next 2 years.
Apart from entrepreneurial skills and community empowerment, nurturing the youth in Iskandar Malaysia to become future leaders also takes an important spot in the region’s development and this is addressed through the formation of the Johor Student Leaders Council (JSLC).
This is a leadership programme, a collaboration between IRDA and the Johor State Education Department (JPNJ), which aims to develop students to become the future leaders to face the challenges of globalization and be primed with the requirements to spur economic development in Iskandar Malaysia.
To date, 146 students have been trained under the programme and they, in turn, have organized more than 40 programmes involving over 2,000 students. Among the JLSC alumni, many have scored top scholarships in Malaysia and held top student leadership positions in universities while some have had the opportunity to speak at various youth-related events and programmes.
Datuk Ismail concluded, “We hope that with the support from the Youth and Sports Ministry, we can collaborate closely in the various youth programmes focusing on education & skills development, entrepreneurship & employment, volunteerism & community participation, sports & healthy lifestyle and arts & culture areas.”
“Not only that, but we also hope to partner with the ministry for execution of youth programmes in Iskandar Malaysia where successful pilot youth programmes in the region could be replicated at the national level and where national youth programmes to be piloted in Iskandar Malaysia.”