LAST_UPDATEThu, 21 Jun 2018 10pm

Unemployment In Malaysia Higher Than Neighbouring Countries

Steven SimSteven SimKUALA LUMPUR - The government needs to act immediately to overcome two major problems involving young Malaysians today, unemployment and underemployment.

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said that young Malysians make up 62.8% of the country’s workforce and according to the answer given in Parliament by the Human Resource Minister; youth unemployment is currently at 10.4%. “Yet in the same breath, it is only 7% in Singapore and 3.4% in Thailand. The question is, why are we not able to lower youth unemployment at least to the levels of our neighbouring countries?” the DAP statesman said.

“I want the government to realise that the problem of underemployment is not limited to just the formal definition of “those who are working less than 30 hours a week and are able or wish to do more”. It also encompasses the overall quality of employment, for example low wages, mismatched skills or qualifications to the jobs undertaken, unconducive work environment and others. For example, in the government’s reply to me in Parliament last year, it was revealed that 21% of our graduates are forced to work in jobs which do not require any tertiary education,” he added.

Steven then referred to an article in the Economist in September 2011, entitled, “The Jobless Young: Left Behind”,  which detailed studies from the United States and UK that found youth unemployment in their early 20s will leave a “wage scar” that affects the quality of the employment ten years down the road until they are in their 30s.

“In other words, the quality of education, training and employment which our young people receive today is very important because its consequences linger on for at least a decade. If nothing substantial is done today, we will see the adverse effect not only on our youth but also on the economy as a whole ten years from now,” he explained.

Steven continued to point out that 99% of our youth who are working earn below RM3,000 a month. “If measured by the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state government’s Poverty Income Line at RM1,500 a month, 88% of our working youth are in poverty,” he added.

He also urged the Ministry to work with related-ministries as well as the Department of Statistics to publish an NEET “Not in Education, Employment or Training” report for youth. This measurement is used in many countries in the world to better reflect the actual situation of young people in today’s economy. However, no such reports are available in Malaysia.

Steven stresses that the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed is our high dependence on cheap foreign labour.

“I urge the government to formulate a workable roadmap to assist our industries to reduce the dependency on cheap low-skilled foreign labour. This should include assistance such as grants especially for small and medium industries to increase their value, innovate, improve on technology as well as workers’ skills and provide better employment packages to their workers,” he said.


- mD