Hornbill Unleashed

March 29, 2017

Things may get worse for young job seekers

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM


It’s quite sobering to read Bank Negara’s latest annual report, especially the part that deals with unemployment rates. Youth unemployment hit 10.7% in 2015. This figure is more than three times the national unemployment rate.

Of the 10.7%, 15.3% – the highest percentage of unemployed youths – were young college and university graduates.

While we must consider that the report took in subjects aged 15 to 24, and of that only 16% reported having a tertiary education, the number bodes ill for an entire generation if current trends continue.

Gen Y, the generation that makes up the majority of the report’s subjects, will soon provide the bulk of the work force. One tenth of more than 10 million young Malaysians is not a figure to laugh at, and when we consider that 15% of this number cannot get a job despite having studied for a qualification, we cannot but shudder at the thought of what will happen to our society in the not-too-distant future.

Many factors have been cited in the quest to find the culprit behind our graduates’ unemployability. Some employers cite lack of experience, others blame our graduates’ lack of knowledge, and still others point to poor communications skills. But many cite combinations of two or all three of these factors.

The Bank Negara report also takes note of the poor economic conditions around the world and the nature of global suppy chains and job creation patterns. Apparently, the need for highly skilled labour is not necessarily in demand. Where it is needed, employers can find candidates who are better than many Malaysian graduates.

That leaves higher education between a rock and a hard place. Without higher education, certain skill sets cannot be developed, especially in disciplines like science and engineering, stunting the growth of job creation in highly skilled fields. However, in spending the necessary time to get their education, would-be workers rob themselves of the opportunity to gain work experience. Another fact to consider is that our education system is poor at imparting soft skills that could perhaps make a case for our graduates’ candidacy.

If jobs that don’t demand high skill sets are the only options readily available for our youths, one can see why graduates feel hopeless and why higher education is merely an option for some and not a necessity.

If current trends continue, higher education faces the risk of being de-emphasised, especially among households earning low incomes. This means a large percentage of a generation will continue to find it hard to be employed, depressing potential growth in the highly skilled sectors we need to develop in order to turn Malaysia into a first world country.

There needs to be a push, starting from the government, to develop our local talents. They must be nurtured and given a place to flourish. Otherwise, things can only get worse. We may lose even the few young talents we have to overseas job markets.

Source : Scott Ng  @ FMT Online



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