Half of the city's students born in the 1980s are pessimistic about their career prospects, according to a survey released yesterday. The Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong interviewed 667 students for the poll, all born in the 1980s, from May to July last year. All were enrolled in post-secondary programmes leading to at least a diploma. Nearly half of the respondents said that, because of the global financial crisis, they would take up a job that offered a salary lower than their expectations. Slightly more than 50 per cent of the students were willing to take up a job that required a lower qualification than they held. 'Facing different challenges, the students are inevitably negative about their future,' Kenny Tang Wing-cheong, who carried out the survey, said. 'The youngsters ... were anxious about their prospects.' More than a quarter of the interviewees said they were forced by the economic downtown to postpone plans to find employment and the older students were more pessimistic, according to the survey. The non-governmental organisation said that if the problem of youth unemployment remained unsolved it would lead to frustration and social problems. It suggested that schools and social workers assist young people to develop personal goals and values. This would help graduates to focus on whether they could achieve personal goals and realise their potential when seeking jobs, rather than focusing on salaries, the YMCA said. Unemployment is at 20.1 per cent for people aged 15 to 19, and 6.9 per cent for those aged 20 to 29, according to the latest Census and Statistics Department data. Those figures are much higher than the city's overall unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent.