KUALA LUMPUR: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to graduates seeking for jobs last year as the number of them being unemployed increased by 22.5% or 37,200 to 202,400, the Statistics Department said.
Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said on Tuesday the number increased from 165,200 in 2019 due to the unfavourable economic environment last year.
In the Graduates Statistics 2020, the report describes the overall graduates labour supply in 2020 by demographic and socioeconomics characteristics. The graudates are defined as individuals with the highest certificate obtained from universities, colleges, polytechnics, recognised bodies or equivalent, with the study duration of at least two years.
“The rise was observed for both degree (+22,400 persons) and diploma holders (+14,800) largely among graduates aged 35 years and over.
“Hence, the graduate’s unemployment rate for 2020 went up by 0.5 percentage points to 4.4% as against 3.9% in the preceding year.
“More than 75% of unemployed graduates were actively seeking work whereby almost half were unemployed for less than three months,” he said.
As for employed graduates, Mohd Uzir said among 4.35 million of them last year, more than two-thirds (68.8%) were in the skilled occupation category but the number declined by 0.8% from 2019.
The decrease was seen in the professional as well as technicians and associate professional.
As for the semi-skilled category, there was 19.3% increase of employed graduates, particularly in the occupation categories of service and sales workers; and plant and machine operators and assemblers.
Mohd Uzir said the composition of employed graduates in the semi-skilled category increased to 28.9% compared with 25.6% the previous year.
He also noted 2.3% of employed graduates were in the low-skilled occupation category.
The rate of skill-related underemployment among graduates rose to 31.2% to 1.36 million persons as compared to 26.7% in 2019 at 1.10 million persons).
The situation was more pronounced among diploma graduates at 46.1% and for degree graduates 19.2% of skill-related underemployment rate.
He said this was reflected in the lower number of total job vacancies in the economic sector last year where the number of skilled job vacancies declined 16.1%, semi-skilled 9.5% and low-skilled jobs 9.7%.
“Skill-related underemployment which has been a structural labour market issue with the rates hovering between 22% and 26% since the series began in 2016,had escalated as the pandemic struck last year,” he said.
He said skill-related underemployment was also seen in advanced economies like the United States and United Kingdom with the underemployment rate of graduates for the past five years ranged between 33% and 35%.
From the perspective of economic sector, more than 75% (3.37 million persons) of graduates were employed in the services sector followed by 14.6% in the manufacturing sector.
Notably, the manufacturing sector recorded an increase of 114,900 graduates to record 637,500 persons.
Employed graduates in the services sector rose by 84,300 mainly in the food and beverages services; and wholesale and retail trade activity.
Mohd Uzir also pointed out there were 800,900 graduates outside labour force last year whereby 39.4% was due to housework/ family responsibility.
As for salaries and wages received by graduates last year, the Salaries & Wages Survey Report showed a decline for the first time last year since the data was complied in 2010.
Hence, the graduates’ mean monthly salaries & wages in their full-time equivalent principal occupations decreased by 10.6% to RM4,489 (2019: RM5,020).
Degree holders earned mean salaries & wages of RM5,471 per month last year, lower by 9.1% from 2019. Diploma holders received a mean of RM3,311 or a decline of 11.5%.
“It was observed that skilled category recorded the highest decline by 8% to RM5,316 while those in semi-skilled category received RM2,418, lower by 2.7% as against the previous year,” he said.