Perak-born makes waves in Australia

IN every unfortunate situation lies an opportunity to turn the circumstances around.

Australian teen Nathaniel Diong, who was born in Sitiawan, Perak, saw unemployment rates among young people skyrocket and decided it was time to do something to help them.

Over the last four years, Diong has taken it upon himself to equip youths with entrepreneurial and 21st century skills so that they could rejoin the workforce.

The entrepreneurship education programmes he created are now run in over 30 secondary schools and universities in Australia for students aged between 13 and 18.

“With the future evolving rapidly, employers are demanding new entrepreneurial skills like creativity and communication.

“Yet, these aren’t taught in educational institutions, especially schools. Globally, millions of young people are at risk of unemployment because they lack skills for the future.

“So, I am trying to bridge that gap through the programmes I created, ” the 19-year-old award-winning educator and founder of Future Minds

Network told StarEdu in an email interview.

Diong has been living in Melbourne since he moved to Australia when he was four, but his programmes have made their way to the United Kingdom, United States, Estonia and Finland.

During the programmes, students explore different entrepreneurial issues and speak to real-world customers to understand the products better, said Diong.

They then start to prototype a solution and conduct market research on the customers’ needs.

“Once the product is built, they experiment with business models, sell it to customers and grow.

“At the end of the programmes, they pitch it to investors and entrepreneurs for funding.”

Students, he added, get the opportunity to attend masterclasses to learn the basics of business. Here, each team is matched with established entrepreneurs.

“Our students leave with increased self-confidence, creativity and eagerness to learn.

“They have since landed jobs at Unicef, launched companies and gained financial freedom, ” he added.

Diong shared that when he was a school student, he read an academic paper predicting that 50% of today’s youths would work in jobs that don’t exist yet.

The paper also stated that youths would struggle financially, be unsure of their careers and lack future skills. These statistics and predictions became too real, he added.

“In secondary school, I joined an entrepreneurship programme and created a pill-reminder box for patients with chronic illnesses.

“By 16, I had prototyped the medtech device, pitched to investors and met incredible entrepreneurs. I learnt more in a few weeks in the programme than I did in two years of business management class.

“This shows that young people have endless creativity, energy and the resilience to turn ideas into reality. We just need the right framework, ” he added.

A better education, Diong said, is the key to a more holistic life.