MINISTER in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed has said there are only 18,000 graduates who are unemployed and not 80,000 as reported.
While this is a relief, the figure is still too high for comfort.
It is unhealthy that there are so many graduates who cannot find work upon completing their degree courses.
The public, including the media, has no access to such statistics and so the people will have to depend on the Government and its leaders for such official information.
Even with this scaled-down number, it is still cause for concern and affected parents and graduates will find it difficult to understand why this should be so and something must be done to address this issue.
Understandably, the Government is trying all sorts of ways to resolve this issue, including spending millions to provide them with skills that will make them more employable.
There are at least two contributing factors to this state of affairs.
First, too many of them are Arts graduates, whose qualifications are not what employers are looking for. Second, they lack the initiative, confidence and ability to interact and communicate with others.
The first reason is not entirely their fault as they are the products of the education system, which has partly failed them resulting in their being weak in mathematics and science subjects.
Without these core subjects, it will be difficult for them to go for technical or mathematics based subjects. Since they do not have a good grounding in mathematics and science the only degree courses open to them are Arts and Humanities.
However, it is not really important that you must work in occupations in keeping only with your qualifications. An important aspect of education is teaching the undergraduates how to think and analyse things.
Unfortunately, the system is such that the students will be spoon-fed throughout their formal education, including at the university level where they need to do things for themselves.
Those who have undergone such training will find themselves highly handicapped and will be unable to do anything for themselves without being told.
In other words, they show no initiative and this can be seen in the way they look for work. Many of them have so little self-esteem that they are prepared to apply for jobs in just one or two sectors.
Should they fail to secure work in these areas they will be at a loss what to do next as they just do not have the initiative or confidence to look for jobs on their own. At the same time, too many of them feel that they are graduates and so they should get a certain starting salary or position.
Unemployment will continue to stare them in the face so long as they are not prepared to lower their expectations and insist that they must be paid according to their status as graduates.
Even if the graduates should be called for an interview, they usually cannot clear this first hurdle because many of them are unable to speak confidently to impress their interviewers.
Therefore, the graduates may have the qualifications that the employers are looking for but their lack of language skills and ability to communicate properly are most probably the reason for their failure in landing the job.