Close to half of Malaysian graduates either jobless or employed in mismatched fields


KUCHING: Up to 40% of public university graduates in Malaysia are either jobless or are stuck in mismatched occupations.

According to Education Ministry official, Dr Mohd Azlan Yahya, studies have shown that between 30% and 40% of graduates have no job after finishing university or are in fields that do not commensurate with what they have studied.

“One of the ways of overcoming such problem is to encourage more (graduates) to be more entrepreneurial and to do that, we must ensure that they have more experience that will enable them to be more sustainable,” Azlan spoke at the closing of the Women in Social Enterprise (Wise) programme here recently.

Azlan, who is also Wise project manager, said graduates facing employment woes usually had very little hands-on experience in their education. Wise was set up as an attempt to correct the situation, he added.

“Hands-on experience might not always be enough so we initiated this one-month programme where students are paired with micro-businesses.

“Small business operators who signed up for this programme ‘adopt’ the students. The learning process and knowledge sharing are actually two-way.”

In the just-concluded programme here, 26 Universiti Malaysia Sarawak undergraduates signed up to be mentored by 16 female micro business operators from here, Samarahan and Mukah.

Unemployment and job mismatch have always been a long-standing scourge among Malaysian graduates.

In 2011, a survey conducted on 174,464 university students found that 24.6% of them were jobless for more than six months after graduating.

Among the reasons cited for the unemployment was the lack of language proficiency particularly in English as well as not having sufficient knowledge and competency in the jobs that they applied for.

Academics have also long complained about paper examinations being overemphasised in the national education system.

In last year’s Federal Budget, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak mooted setting up a Graduate Employability Taskforce with an allocation of RM200mil to strengthen the employability of graduates.

He also announced an additional RM440mil to be allocated for Skills Development Fund Corporation to provide loans for trainees to undergo skills retraining.

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