Some millennials have a "what's in it for me?" attitude and this is worrying, said Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim yesterday at a panel discussion.
"I get worried when I see a big group of people having this mentality," said the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development.
He was replying to a question by the moderator at the inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Forum organised by Republic Polytechnic (RP), about how the Government recruits and engages millennials - those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.
About 200 people, including students, staff, and industry and social enterprise partners, attended the forum at *Scape in Orchard Road.
It was organised to mark the 15th anniversary of RP, which has a diploma course in social enterprise management, and to explore millennials' inclinations towards social causes.
"The onus is on (the Government) to find out what they like to do, but we should not just do that," said Prof Faishal. "They also have to be responsible for themselves... It's not only about developing themselves, but developing the nation."
He said schools now place more emphasis on holistic development and character education.
But the IT-savvy generation has limited awareness of social causes, according to a recent survey by RP.
Asked how they preferred to support a social cause, most survey participants chose donating (42.5 per cent), followed by starting a project (33.8 per cent) and buying a product (23.8 per cent). But among each of the groups, when asked to name an organisation they would support or think is good, 39 per cent to 52 per cent could not name any.
The survey polled 445 people, more than three-quarters of whom were RP students, and about two-thirds aged 15 to 19.
Prof Faishal said while there were plenty of opportunities to volunteer, greater reflection was needed.
On interest in social entrepreneurship, student Lee Yuki, 20, said: "If more of them see how this can bring in revenue while also helping people... more would be interested."