Number of unemployed youths down by 1% end 2018, Dewan Rakyat told

Deputy Human Resources minister Mahfuz Omar says unemployment among youths aged 15 to 24 is “completely normal”, adding that this problem was faced by most nations.

KUALA LUMPUR: There was a drop in the number of unemployed youths – from 309,700 (11.5%) in 2017’s fourth quarter to 293,700 (10.5%) in last year’s fourth quarter – the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

However, Deputy Human Resources Minister Mahfuz Omar (PH-Pokok Sena) said, the unemployment rate for graduates had increased – from 137,400 (4.0%) at the end of 2017 to 158,000 (4.3%) at the end of 2018.

Citing figures from a labour force report by the Statistics Department, Mahfuz said unemployment among youths aged 15 to 24 was “completely normal”, adding that this problem was faced by most developing and developed nations.

“As a comparison, the International Labour Organisation through its Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017 publication, estimates the global youth unemployment rate to be at 13.1% for 2017 and 2018.

“This increased from the 13.0% (average that was recorded) in 2016,” Mahfuz said during question time today, adding this meant 71 million youths were unemployed globally.

Mahfuz also read out the youth unemployment rate for several developed and developing countries. In China, it is 12.4%, India 9.7%, New Zealand 14.4%, Norway, 10.1% and Australia 13.5%

He was responding to a question from Kasthuri Patto (PH-Batu Kawan) on the factors leading to unemployment among youths and graduates and the steps taken to overcome this both for youths and the disabled.

To Kasthuri’s second question, Mahfuz said the government had provided the JobsMalaysia platform to offer opportunities to everyone – youths and graduates included – to find relevant jobs.

Last year, Putrajaya organised job placement programmes through career carnivals and open interview sessions to help aspiring employees meet with employers and this helped 168,677 people.

Mahfuz also said his ministry had carried out several initiatives to help the disabled find jobs in the private sector such as through specialised training sessions and disabled-specific career carnivals.

On the issue of pills or special juices available to help with drastic weight loss or help men “last long” in the bedroom, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor) said his ministry was serious about tackling this.

He said his ministry would work on monitoring advertising on social media and on signages that highlight such “alternative” forms of treatment, saying this was something that needed to be countered.

Responding to a concern that such juices would lead to higher sugar intake, Dzulkefly said the real solution to this and curbing weight loss was through exercise and living an active life, not through pills.

Ismail Mohamad Said (BN-Kuala Krau) had asked a supplementary question regarding the juices and pills, following the original question on diabetes. “I don’t have to use these energy drinks,” he clarified, to rounds of laughter.

Dzulkefly also said the government’s decision to impose an excise tax of 40 sen per litre on sweetened beverages beginning Apr 1 would effectively decrease rates of diabetes and obesity in Malaysia.

This, complemented by the federal government’s plan to provide healthy breakfast at all primary schools in the country, would be an effective way to reduce the risk of diabetes, Dzulkefly added.

This was met with protest from the opposition bench who said both plans were merely extensions of the previous administration. “Bukan baru (not new)”, shouted Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong).