Government jobs are attracting the young

Right size: Civil servants taking an oath. The ratio of public servants to the country’s population is 1:20, which is ‘still an ideal ratio’, says Mohd Zuki. — Filepic/The Star

A WHOPPING 95,000 first and second upper class degree holders applied for the civil service’s premier Administrative and Diplomatic Officers posts. Only 400 were accepted. For 1,500 clerical jobs in the government, more than 435,000 people applied.

These are just the figures for last year and going by the trend this year, the number of people looking for jobs in the civil service is on the increase.

Chief Secretary to the Govern-ment Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali, in revealing the numbers from the Public Services Commission (PSC), says that they indicate career prospects in the government are still attractive, especially among the young.

“Until June this year, the PSC received 1,145,035 applications of which 95% were from those aged between 18 and 35 years old,” Mohd Zuki tells Sunday Star in an email interview.

Jobseekers can register applications at any time throughout the year without waiting for jobs to be advertised; the application will be valid for a one-year period.

The PSC is the largest appointing authority in the civil service. Most job vacancies it advertises usually receives an overwhelming response from young applicants.

The other appointing authorities for civil service jobs are the Education Service Commission, Police Force Commission, Judiciary and Legal Service Commission, Armed Forces Council and statutory bodies and local authorities.

The most popular posts are Administrative and Diplomatic Officers and administrative assistants (clerical/operations). For this year’s Administrative and Diplomatic Officers recruitment, more than 105,000 people have applied so far. The intake number for this post varies every year.

The younger generation also shows an interest in professional jobs in the civil service such as engineers (44,229 applications), scientists (50,152 applications), researchers (65,719 applications) and community development officers (124,015 applications).

Among the factors that attract the younger generation to join the civil service are job security, competitive salaries, allowances and benefits such as medical (covering not only the civil servant but also family members, including parents), pensions, housing and car loans, and scholarships for further study.

“PSC 2019 data show that 50% of all applications came from those in the 18 to 25 age group. Up to June this year, 49.5% are from this age group.

“Employment stability is a factor contributing to interest among the younger generation.

“It is not easy to secure a job in the civil service, as the number of vacancies is limited and only a small number of applicants is accepted,” Mohd Zuki says.

Over the years, the civil service has borne the brunt of criticisms from every level of society and there have been calls even among politicians to trim its size.

But Mohd Zuki thinks the current number is ideal: There are 1.6 million civil servants as at late 2019.

By definition, Malaysia’s public services include the federal and state civil service, federal and state statutory bodies, and local authorities which consist of education, security and health sectors.

“The increase of public servants from 995,654 in 2003 to 1.6 million in 2019 is in line with population growth, new fields explored and additional schools, hospitals, police stations, fire stations and other public facilities being constructed.

“As of July 2020, the ratio of public servants to the country’s population is 1:20. This size is still an ideal ratio,” Mohd Zuki says.

Mohd Zuki, who turns 58 on Tuesday, was appointed to the post on Jan 1 this year. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia economics graduate joined the civil service in 1992 and started his career at the Finance Ministry. He also obtained a Master of Business Management (Finance) degree from Boston’s renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The country’s number one civil servant says the Malaysian public service seeks to remain agile and dynamic by introducing new initiatives to improve organisational efficiency and capability.

He says in order to recognise and retain expertise in the civil service, for instance, in 2016 the government introduced the Subject Matter Experts Programme and Fast Track Programme to provide opportunities for career advancement among highly skilled public servants.

“The government values young public servants as future leaders in the public sector.

“Various development programmes such as the Accelerated Leadership for Young Talents (Talent X) and the Emerging Management Development Programme are tailored to inspire talented young public servants to become high quality leaders.

“The Cross Fertilisation Prog-ramme has become one of the strategic initiatives of the government to develop the best talents in the public service. The programme creates opportunities for public servants to acquire new knowledge, skills and experiences through secondment into the private sector and government-linked companies,” he explains.

The government, he says, also realises the need to focus on policies to create more jobs.

“To create more job opportunities for locals, the government has been reducing dependency on low-skilled foreign workers.”

One way to do this is to encourage automation in industries with high dependency on foreign workers, particularly manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors which currently employ more than 30% of foreign workers.

“As the government has mooted to freeze any new intake of foreign workers until the end of the year, concerted efforts will be undertaken to automate routine and manual jobs to create more high-skilled jobs to be filled by locals,” he says.

Mohd Zuki insists that the Malaysian government constantly seeks to enhance its digitalisation initiatives to boost the country’s economic growth through the digital economy.

“The digital ecosystem aims to link the value of the digital economy and the digitalisation of government services that are integrated, end-to-end and secure, involving all parties, namely the government, industry players, academia and the rakyat.

“Mampu (the Malaysian Admin-istrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit), as the driving force of the public sector digitalisation initiative, is constantly moving in line with the government’s efforts to recover the country’s economy through strengthening digital adoption and digital presence holistically.”

The government, through the Youth and Sports Ministry, is also addressing the youth unemployment issue, which is becoming more prevalent with the slowdown of the Malaysian economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ministry has undertaken various initiatives to address youth unemployment and to increase the competitiveness of youth in the job market.

“These include initiatives to equip youths with the relevant skills and knowledge to future-proof them as well as initiatives to create more self-employment opportunities, including social entrepreneurship.”

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