Shafie: Gov’t must resolve ‘underemployment’ issue among uni graduates

THE Government must intensify its efforts to provide more employment opportunities for university graduates to create a balance in the country’s job market and to avoid them from taking up lower-skilled jobs, said Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal.

In a statement on Friday (Sept 17) he said that this ‘underemployment’ deprives SPM and diploma holders, particularly from the lower income group, of semi-skilled and unskilled jobs as they are forced to compete with degree holders.

“Warisan is of the view that the issue of underemployment should be given immediate attention,” said the Semporna MP.

“In 2020, the number of graduates ready to enter the job market was recorded at 260,701 but the number of jobs (matching their qualifications) in 2020 was only 73,000 jobs, down 31,000 from the previous year.

“This has resulted in many of these graduates getting jobs below the qualifications they have earned.”

Shafie added that the 1.89 million university graduates working in low- or semi-skilled jobs as of 2020 represented 1.89 million opportunities taken from SPM and diploma holders.

“Studies have indicated that this ‘underemployment’ leads to a wider poverty gap among the low-income B40 group.

“Their loss of job whereby their jobs are taken over by university graduates can lead them to fall into the slide them down to the ‘urban poor’ category.

“This also has similar implications for the middle-income M40 group, whereby job losses can push more from the M40 group down to the B40 income bracket, and this must not be allowed to continue.”

Shafie further proposed that the Government prioritise the gig economy and entrepreneurship for graduates who are seeking employment, adding that contract positions with government agencies and government-linked companies can be offered.

“Failure to address this ‘mismatch; between university graduates and available jobs in the market would hamper the country’s recovery efforts,” he concluded. – Sept 17, 2021.

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