Amanah's Dr Dzul offers some solutions.
PETALING JAYA: Amanah strategy director Dzulkefly Ahmad has urged the appropriate authorities to look into the marketability of graduates as a step towards resolving the problem of defaults on study loans.
Speaking to FMT, he said graduates could not settle their loans because they could not find jobs or get decent pay and he attributed this to the lack of quality in the education they received.
He said studies had shown that financial literacy among recent graduates was low, adding that this was just one of many arguments pointing to the poor quality of education imparted by local institutions of learning.
“Being in debt, yet not being marketable because you’re not properly skilled, trained or educated is surely a double whammy,” he said.
Dzulkefly offered some solutions that the government, institutions of higher learning and the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) could consider.
The foremost problem to address, he said, was the lack of good training in both the soft and hard skills that employers value. He acknowledged that resolving this problem would be “no easy feat”, especially for the institutions of learning, and that it would take time.
Speaking of graduates who do manage to find work, he said the government must ensure that they get “fair and decent” wages.
He also suggested that universities and colleges set up job placement units on campus and that the government give incentives to companies that show preference for Malaysians above foreigners when hiring.
“There are plenty of jobs that are now being given to foreigners,” he said.
Dzulkefly also suggested that PTPTN work out a flexible payment scheme that would allow graduates to make consistent payments without eating too much into their take-home pay.
“PTPTN is currently facing a deficit of RM600 million to RM650 million a year,” he noted. “Appropriate, and not punitive, measures must be in place to get the graduates to pay up.”
Last December, deputy higher education minister Mary Yap was quoted as saying that 1,574,700 borrowers had failed to service their PTPTN loans. The total amount involved was RM32.07 billion.
The defaulters have been listed in the Central Credit Reference Information System and will face difficulty getting new loans.