PETALING JAYA: The labour market in Malaysia has failed to produce jobs requiring skills that match qualifications despite Malaysian’s youth continually achieving higher education levels.
Speaking at a webinar on the subject, Lee Hwok Aun, a senior fellow at Singapore’s Yusof Ishak Institute (Iseas) said the younger generations have been predominantly employed in service and sales, production lines, clerical and as elementary workers.
“In 2018, 32.7% of those aged 15 to 24 years had attained tertiary-level qualifications, while the same applied for 24.7% of those aged 25 and above. Of these numbers, less than 6% had jobs in professional sectors,” Lee said.
He added that many young people work in jobs they are overqualified for, likely to earn less than they otherwise could have and are not making the most of their productive potential.
“The key cause for this are the labour policies and dependency on low-wage employment.
“The supply of graduates far exceeds demand and industries continue to prefer cheap labour and mismatch in skills and requirements,” Lee said, adding that is a factor why the wage growth for young adults is relatively slow.
He said the phenomenon contributed to the increase in self-employment among the young generation. However, the vast majority remain as employees.
According to Lee, the rise in those taking the self-employment route was a necessary adaption to technological change and also to curb the unemployment problem in the country.
“However, this raises concerns about the lack of social protection among these self-employed workers.
“There is also an unclear skills development and career path, especially for those in the gig economy sectors.”
Further, he said those who are self-employed and in the services sector were the worst impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moving forward, he said there is a need for a new mindset on job creation, productivity, equality and a living wage in the job market to ensure young graduates could still be offered jobs matching their qualifications.