THE large number of unemployed graduates in the country is of great concern, and steps must be taken to reduce it.
The Khazanah Research Institute conducted a survey recently on the youth employment situation. The school-to-work-transition survey (SWTS) that was released earlier this week showed that salary expectations of fresh graduates are realistic. (“Survey: Our youths aren’t demanding, nor are they picky”, Nation, The Star; online at tinyurl.com/star-graduates.)
According to the survey, some graduates are prepared to accept salaries as low as RM1,550. This is contrary to claims made by many employers that fresh graduates’ salary expectations are unrealistic.
According to Bank Negara, in 2017, the minimum cost of living in major cities in Malaysia was RM3,000; the SWTS survey found that many graduates’ expect salaries of around RM2,500 and diploma holders’ expect salaries of RM2,000 per month – these are amounts that I consider reasonable and realistic.
In fact, according to a cost-of-talent report by employment research company Universum Global, our fresh graduates have one of the lowest expectations in the world for starting salaries.
However, due to an oversupply and a mismatch in skills required, most employers are prepared to offer starting salaries of only around RM2,000 per month to fresh graduates. Obviously, this amount that is below expectations has led to a fast turnover among young people in employment.
The call from PKR president and prime-minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for schools and tertiary institutions to focus on critical thinking and soft skills is correct.
Therefore, we hope that our current examination-based education system will be reviewed, as the SWTS survey has found that a serious mismatch between the skills of unemployed young people and industry requirements is the main reason for the serious unemployment situation among youths.
To prevent huge unemployment among our youths in future:
> Steps must be taken to reduce the mismatch between skills and requirements, including efforts to enhance critical thinking and soft and communication skills in our schools and tertiary institutions.
> Focus should be placed on developing skills in digital technology, biotechnology, robotic technology, etc, among our youths, as these are vital for our country’s future development.
> Reasonable starting salaries of around RM2,500 per month should be offered to fresh graduates to enable them to meet the cost of living in major cities, which will reduce their frustrations and enhance their job performance. Satisfactory salaries will also lessen turnover, which will benefit both employees and employers.
Subang Jaya, Selangor