Malays less likely to get engineering jobs

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SEMENYIH: A survey has found that if two equally-qualified engineering graduates – one Malay and the other Chinese – applied for employment at a Malay firm, the Chinese applicant was more likely to land the job.

This surprising fact emerged in research conducted by Universiti Malaya senior lecturer Dr Lee Hwok Aun and Khazanah Research Institute Director of Research Muhammed Abdul Khalid.

“For engineering jobs, Malay-controlled companies are less likely than Chinese-controlled companies to call Malay applicants,” Lee said.

The research also noted that whether it was a Chinese or Malay, a person with proficiency in Chinese dialects was likelier to be called for interviews.

“Chinese proficiency is a major factor and an advantage to both Malays and Chinese.”

Lee noted that placing proficiency in the Chinese language as a job requirement decreased the chances of Malays getting a job.

He suggested that the authorities make it illegal for employers to impose such requirements when posting vacancies as this was a discriminatory practice.

It was no surprise that the research indicated that Chinese job seekers were more likely to be hired in engineering positions in private engineering firms, rather than equally-qualifed Malay applicants.

“Discrimination is very specific that when résumés for equally qualified applicants were submitted, employers are more likely to call the Chinese,” Lee said during a lecture at the University of Nottingham.

Explaining the reason behind such employment discrimination, Lee said this might be due to certain preconceptions held by Chinese companies.

“Homogenous Chinese companies may feel that a Malay candidate would not fit in socially and culturally into their working environment.

“These companies may also feel that Malay graduates already get preference for jobs in the public sector and, therefore, the private sector needs to serve as a counterweight.”

Lee noted that most Chinese and foreign-controlled companies seemed to prefer Chinese job applicants.