Millennials now look up to Asia

THE CITIES of the future are now found in the east. Technology-savvy millennials are now attracted to Asian cities that have embraced automation and built superior infrastructures, making travel more convenient for millions of people.

Asian millennials, in my opinion, no longer look up to the United States and Europe for travel, because Asian economies are generally growing faster and creating more opportunities for new labor force entrants.

If you want to get the latest technologies and ideas, you don’t have to go to the US anymore. In fact, you don’t have to leave Asia to experience the world’s best cities, best airports, best mass transit systems and best technologies.

European cities are different, though, because their charm lies in their historical past and classic architecture. Millennials travel to Europe to learn and appreciate history and culture, but not to look at the future.

While US cities such as San Francisco and New York remain the go-to areas for new ideas, Asian cities are not far behind, as many technology companies now thrive in these cities, thanks to the rise of Asian millennials.

Instead of going to New York, the young generation prefers to visit Asian cities, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Incheon, Busan, the Kansai region, Guangzhou, Beijing, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh.

Millennials want to learn from their neighbors, unlike my generation, the baby boomers, who constantly looked up to the US and Europe for guidance on modernization. The new generation, unlike ours, is more mobile, more innovative and more open to Asian styles and technologies. Millennials apparently are more educated and more receptive of other Asian cultures.

The popularity of K-pop and J-pop musical and cultural styles have made Korea and Japan more popular destinations than the US among Filipino millennials.  Korea and Japan, in response, welcomed them by easing their visa rules.

Asia also has the most number of modern cities. Two of the largest smartphone makers are based in the region, Samsung and Huawei. South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have the fastest Internet speed on the planet. The Philippines and India are considered two of the largest IT and business-process outsourcing (BPO) hubs in the world.

Metro Manila is also a hotbed of new ideas because it remains an undisputed leader in BPO, which employs more than a million people, mostly millennials. I believe that artificial intelligence, data science and robotics will complement, and not displace, our Filipino talents.

More important, the Philippines is in the midst of the so-called demographic sweet spot as a large part of our young population joins the labor force and becomes productive. While many of our young workers still go to the US and European cities, the majority finds more lucrative jobs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Metro Manila not only in the BPO sector, but also in technology, finance, manufacturing, 
construction, industries, tourism, trade and the services sector.

More opportunities will be made available to Filipino millennials in the coming years, as the Philippines is expected to have one of the fastest growths in Asia at more than six percent annually.

In fact, data show that unemployment rate in the Philippines already dipped to 5.2 percent in April 2019, reportedly the lowest in four decades. Along with it, poverty incidence eased to 21 percent in the first half of 2018, from 27.6 percent three years earlier.

The government also expects the Philippines to join the ranks of upper middle-income economies this year. It aims to secure the coveted “A” credit rating soon, which will put the Philippines on a par with many North American and European countries in terms of debt score.

What this means is that the young generation has plenty of opportunities in the Philippines and other Asian countries. It also means that we don’t have to look at the US as the center of the global economy anymore. In fact, the center of the global economy now shifts to Asia — China and Japan, in particular — and it is a good thing that our millennials are aware of this.

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This piece first came out in Business Mirror on July 9, 2019 under the column “The Entrepreneur.” For comments/feedback e-mail to: [email protected] or

 visitwww.mannyvillar.com.ph./PN

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