FOR years now, youth unemployment has always been one of the global social issues that was (and still is) tough to overcome in Malaysia.
In 2018, unemployed youth graduates reached an immense number of 162,000 recorded by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM).
Adding to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic where we may see a more extreme rise of youth unemployment, this has exacerbated the level of difficulty in landing a job that will allow them to get a decent income.
While fresh graduates have it hard to find work these days, it is extra onerous for those who are more vulnerable or neglected – particularly individuals who were unable to complete their high school education due to financial struggles or the inability to complete their tertiary education.
Young people, especially those from relatively low-income households or B40 families in Malaysia, usually choose to drop out of school.
According to a recent survey done by Manforce Group Bhd, 85.5% out of 404 participants aged between 18-34 lost interest in studies, while some thought that they could contribute substantially to the household instead of adding more burden to the family.
While fresh grads are still able to access networking sites easily to be more in touch with current news and job opportunities, these neglected groups lack the necessary skills and education to secure gainful employment and they may not have the privilege similar to fresh grads.
Adding to that, some youths are not even able to get low-paying jobs as employers are more willing to hire foreigners.
There are three main categories of unemployed youth: graduates, rural youth, and urban youth.
According to a statistical analysis of adolescents in Malaysia conducted by UNICEF in 2019, the official youth unemployment rate (aged 15-24) is at 10.9%, more than three times the national average of 3.3%.
Unemployed youth constitute almost 60% of the 504,000 that are currently unemployed. It is likely, however, that the true extent of youth employment is under-reported, given the restrictive definition used by the Government which does not include those who have not registered as ‘actively looking for work’.
In many instances, governmental data are not broken down according to school dropouts, leaving them to be commonly categorised as the “forgotten groups”.
As mentioned above, the more vulnerable and neglected youths categorised under rural youth have it more difficult to land a job than a fresh graduate.
Although many of the unemployment problems faced by urban youth also apply to those living in rural areas, rural youth face an additional set of barriers which can be attributed to their isolated location and the limited range of opportunities that are available to them.
This does not mean that they are not actively looking for any form of employment. Most of the time, local employment opportunities in the area is only limited to farming or agricultural work.
Because of this, most rural youth leave this life to explore better job opportunities in the urban areas, however they may also face another set of problems. It may be a wearying process to even confirm low-paying/entry-level jobs in factories or industrial companies as they are without the necessary skills to be employed for such occupation, or lacking the qualifications.
Malaysian employers are also more reliant in hiring foreign workers not only because they are more devoted to the work as compared to the local workers, but most Malaysian employers deemed local workers too demanding and unreliable, and may not have the drive similar to a foreign worker.
This leaves quite a problematic gap between employers and local workers. Because of that gap, certain initiatives need to be put in place in order to close the gap of youth unemployment in the market and enhance skill training programmes to prepare the local workforce for this industry
According to Manforce Group Bhd founder and group managing director Datuk Paul Wong Boon Ming, skills shortages will need to be addressed with solid enhanced skill training programmes as it will continue to be a challenge for industrial companies in Malaysia. This is mainly due to a persistent mismatch between the type of capabilities and skills needed by employers and what is currently available in the labour market.
“Education is often considered an important social mobility tool by educators as it can give young adults the skills to find meaningful employment and lift themselves out of poverty, however, whether or not these groups being given a second chance to upskill themselves still remain questionable,” said Wong.
DOSM recorded that the number of unemployed graduates in 2019 was 170,300 people. Active unemployed graduates accounted for 74.8% of the total unemployed graduates. On the other hand, the number of graduates outside the labour force (housewives, students, retired, etc) in 2019 was 869,800 persons, an increase of 7.6% as compared to the previous year.
But then again, we cannot entirely blame the job market scene itself, for most of the youth especially those in the urban areas are still rather demanding when it comes to salary and benefits.
Given this difficult time for all, especially with now becoming more of a challenge due to the number of daily infection cases and the implementation of total lockdown imposed nationwide, we need a “win-win” solution that can help both employers and youths in securing job opportunities.
For those out there still struggling to look for that job, these are some of the key things we need to always remember to overcome this troubling time in securing one:
Don’t be choosy, flexibility is key
It is important to keep an open mind and flexibility on the types of jobs that you are applying for. While job security is an important factor that you should look into when looking for employment, you need to understand that the economy is still volatile these days as companies are still struggling to cope with the new normal of running their businesses.
Practice your skills and continue learning
Developing a diverse skills set can expand your appeal to a larger number of employers. In response to the range of issues associated with dropping out of school, prevention and “second chance” programs have been developed to assist or reconnect this higher-risk youth population.
Motivation is the key to finding success
The key is to set up a solid target and understand what you want by focusing on the opportunities available for working and learning. Do not hold back and continue to motivate yourself to achieve new goals.
Stay disciplined when working remotely
A lot of the hiring procedures happening right now are for remote jobs, or jobs that will at least need to be functioned remotely. However, with remote working, there needs to be a certain responsibility to adhere to in order for the employer to put their trust in you.
With discipline as a significant characteristic for remote workers, while you may not have to deal with distractions related to coworkers and office politics, you are still exposed to their own set of unique diversions.
Though it is undeniable that those in vulnerable positions are rendered voiceless and powerless in some ways, nevertheless they should not be forsaken nor forgotten and be given another way out to reconnect back to the reality of the current job market as well, as proper solutions that suits them best will give them a pathway at a second chance in life. – Aug 28, 2021