4.0 Conclusion

Unemployment in Malaysia is becoming increasingly serious. Every year many students have graduated from institutions of higher learning either in public or private institutions. A lot of competition for jobs in causing high unemployment. Lack of employment factors there is also a source of unemployment. Competition that exists is there in getting employment in government and private sector. Many graduates more interested in public and private sector to the government because they consider is more efficient and secure the future. Therefore, the parties must take iniasitif particular problem in this competition. Parties also need to establish various new sectors and career seminars in combat unemployment. Leavers, public and private institutions should enter into new areas such as participation in the agricultural sector, small and medium industries and other businesses. Of entering new sectors, the unemployment rate will be reduced and this sector can improve the economy. Students also should be concerned because this aspect of students’ attitudes to choose jobs that are too causing unemployment. With the lack of experience in employment, students should not choose the job because this will only disadvantage. If there are job-related seminars or courses, students should take part because it helps to know the various features in occupation. With the various aspects of this, the unemployment rate can be overcome and each student can take advantage of what has been learned to work in each

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3.0 Solution unemployment in Malaysia
3.1 Changing the mindset of graduates

The readiness of our youth and young professionals to search for opportunities overseas posed the third challenge. There is a need for institutional changes of mindset to overcome the fundamental problems of quality rather than quantity and to change the mindset of the locals for the need to work harder, to get out of their comfort zone and not be content to allow future generations to work in the present environment while the world is moving at a faster pace. It was recommended that a strategic approach be adopted to promote a change of mindset, more demonstration of needs more than wants in order to build quality professionals. Current economic issues faced by the nation are on the escalating prices of essential goods, building materials, petrol, diesel, gas and electricity tariff. With this price increases the effects on the Malaysian economy is a rise in the consumer price index which hit a 26-year high in August 2008. Inevitably there is rise in inflation and slowdown in output growth even though exports are still not affect at the moment. There is pressure on wages with MTUC’s
call for minimum wages of RM900 per month and a cost of living allowance of RM300 per month. However, this can only be viable if productivity is increased and there is a reduction in number of foreign worker in the country. The government has put in cost cutting measures by cutting down on mega projects, expenditures related to entertainment, overseas travel and cabinet allowance to counter the impact of these issues. Even though Malaysia still has full employment, it is expected that there will be an increase in unemployment rate, retrenchment or voluntary separation and closure of businesses. MEF did a survey on the impact of the increase in fuel prices and found that it resulted in increases in overall operating cost, human resource and labor cost, cost of raw materials, cost of transport related services as well as cost of products and services. In order to cope with the challenges of rising prices, it was suggested that individuals will have to make necessary adjustment to their lifestyle and implement ‘Green Book’ policy where possible. Private sector employers can cut down unnecessary expenses while employees in order to remain employed must possess multi-skills and the ability to adjust quickly.

Ideologically, we need to be more ambitious as a nation. Only ambition can break the cycle of inevitable failure. We have a strong basis for growth and could become a cutting-edge, sustainable, technology-led economy. There is no sound reason to accept the status quo, nor to believe we cannot, in the medium-term, aim significantly higher. Their minds start to rot, intellectual growth is suppressed, and the end result; they hit rock bottom in the ‘real’ world. Groping in the dark, they try to find a way out, but to no avail. Thereafter, enlightenment ensues, a harsh realization, that the scroll in their hands is merely that, a scroll. On the other hand, the introduction of a compulsory soft skills course serves only to magnify the deficiencies of our education system. Students have forgotten how to interact, how to communicate, and how to ace that interview, to the extent that such drastic measure has to be taken. While this solves the problem on the surface, it effectively sweeps the bigger chunk of it under the carpet. Undergraduates cannot be expected to learn the art of eloquence and to gain self-confidence overnight. It takes more than a course to create the wholesome undergraduate. More importantly, undergraduates must be provided with room and space for holistic growth. Intellectual discussions, debates and forums on any topic at all should be encouraged and the underlying fear that students will rebel, retaliate or even form extremist groups, I would like to state, is unfounded. As adults, they should be respected as such, which means also to be given inter alia, the right to freedom of expression. What is right or wrong is not the point. The focal point is, undergraduates must be allowed to think, to express themselves, and to dissent if they want to. Keep pushing them around, and what do you get? A bunch of pushovers in society. The bottom line is this. Whether or not an undergraduate will ever be ready to face the ‘real’ world is essentially a matter of choice. Choose to maintain your status quo, you continue in your temporary bubble in Neverland, waiting for the ‘real’ world to come crashing through. Choose to free your mind from the fetters of tradition for tradition’s sake, and to move out of your comfort zone, you embark on a journey with nothing guaranteed, except unfamiliarity.

3.2 Education Collaboration for Sustainable Development

The objectives were to promote and strengthen industry-education collaboration so as to develop a common understanding of the industry’s needs and how polytechnics and community colleges can fulfil those needs for the national as well as the international market. Education institutions were urged to prepare students who are able to meet job market requirements immediately. Four challenges were posed for graduates – the need for sufficient qualifications and experience; to be multi skilled and adaptable to changing “glocal” environment and circumstances; to be prepared and ready to search for opportunities overseas and lastly to have the confidence to succeed in foreign countries. In order to meet these challenges call for the change of mindset from the institutions and graduates with benching with the worlds’ best and international accreditation and getting out of the “comfort zone”. In the Question and Answer session, issues on skills in human management, enhancing the status of sub-professionals, international exposure for students and graduates, preparation of students for the international market jointly with the industry, career guidance programmes to smoothen the transition of school-to-work, placement units in institutions to facilitate employment, advice from professional bodies on benchmarking and international standards which can facilitate student and graduate mobility, embedding multi-skills and multidisciplines into the curriculum, setting up of “preferred polytechnics”, guest lecturers from the industry, the need for mastery in foreign languages so as to be competitive on the international front, the need to import of skilled craftsmen to train our locals and training for wet trades to reduce dependency on foreign workers. Participants from the industry were surveyed on their readiness to collaborate in DPCCE’s programmes.

The results were very encouraging. 36 respondents out 42 indicated their interest to collaborate in different areas. More than 70% of these respondents wish to take in students for training, share their expertise in curriculum development as well as be guest lecturers in the institutions. More than 60% are willing to giving career talks, presenting papers, be an advisory committee member of an institution and take part in work based learning programmes. 58.3% of the respondents are willing to take in lecturers for internship at their organizations.
The objectives were to promote and strengthen industry-education collaboration so as to develop a common understanding of the industry’s needs and how polytechnics and community colleges can fulfill those needs for the national as well as the international market. To meet the requirements of the industries, DPCCE’s institutions are embarking on a new concept of “Finishing Schools” to train and prepare its’ final semester students as well as unemployed graduates with industry-specific knowledge, skills and competencies to facilitate and improve their employability. Career guidance programs are also being strengthened at the institutions to ease the institution-to-work transition and ensure graduates are in jobs that will best use them. Complementary models such as life-long learning are also being developed to enable workers to be able to access and continually update their skills and knowledge for job mobility up the human capital chain as well as personal skill development. Industry must play a collaborative and supportive role towards the planning and implementation of the above action plans. Input is essential for the identification of the skill sets, competencies and soft skills needed for the graduates to be relevant in the job market. Industry can also play a role in career guidance and support the students’ industrial training and lecturers’ attachment to the industry. Education institutions should prepare students who meet job market requirements in terms of hands-on knowledge and relevant skills as companies are not keen to train new employees. The graduates need to be able to start to contribute immediately as at present it takes two years before fresh graduates can start to contribute to the organization. The Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Education can work together with the industry on career guidance and training in preparing students for the job market.

Four challenges were put forward on how to develop talent for international ventures. The first challenge posed was on the professional capabilities of our graduates. Irrespective of whether the graduates are “blue collar” or “white collar” professionals, one needs to have sufficient qualifications and experience, especially internationally recognized qualifications and specialized skills and related experience before venturing on the international stage. Polytechnics and community colleges need to offer these specialized training as basic generic skills are no longer adequate. Being multi skilled and adaptable to changing “glocal” environment and circumstances is the second challenge faced by our graduates. Environment and circumstances in different countries are not necessary the same as conditions in Malaysia. Therefore what we train our graduates locally may not be immediately exportable. As we develop our human capital, we must bear in mind and recognize the need to benchmark internally but also to understand that different parts of the world need different skill sets and technologies.

3.3 Enhancement in Soft Skills and Retraining Program

During the Eighth Plan period, the economy maintained full employment and recorded growth in labour productivity. Employment expanded in line with economic growth, which was mainly contributed by the services and manufacturing sectors. The quality of the labour force improved with the increasing supply of educated and skilled human resource. Various initiatives were undertaken including the implementation of several training and retraining programmes to reduce skills mismatch and enhance the employability of labour, particularly graduates. Likewise, entrepreneurial skills have been incorporated in order to enhance entrepreneurship focus, as students will require general business skills in addition to technical skills. A Graduate Enhancement Scheme is also in the pipeline, targeted at all higher education graduates. Through this scheme, the graduates will get an opportunity to hone their entrepreneur skills as well as acquire and reinforce industry specific knowledge, skills and competencies. It was highlighted that joint certification training programs can further enhance the employability of our graduates. Employing graduates with a strong desire to learn is more important than taking in the best graduates. The bridging from school to the working world is very important. Teaching the basics of MS Office and communication skills are essential for this transition. The main challenge facing graduates is their inability to articulate a line of thought, regardless of language. There is a need to put in place a programme where thinking and communication skills, are taught, irrespective of discipline. Special programmes/action plans, in line with market needs, must be designed to enable Malaysians competitive on the international front. Language skill is important as a marketing tool in any export market, for example, Arabic in the Middle East market and English in European markets. There is a need to change the mindset of the younger generation to be proficient in foreign languages. We should not be misguided by national pride to refrain from learning other languages.
The capacity and capability of public training institutions will be strengthened to meet the training needs of public sector employees. Existing training programmes will be continued and new programmes will be offered with special emphasis on values and ethics. Towards this end, Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara (INTAN) will expand their training programmes to include courses such as developing high performance employees, customer services and Islamic finance. To facilitate the development of lifelong learning among civil servants, INTAN will lead the implementation of e-learning initiatives based on the Public Sector e-Learning Blueprint. To further enhance the management skills and professionalism of education personnel, Institut Aminuddin Baki will intensify its training efforts. Training in specialised areas such as customs, safety and security, health, property evaluation, diplomatic relations, and professional and technical fields will continue to be provided by the respective training institutions. These institutions include Akademi Kastam DiRaja Malaysia, Akademi Bomba dan Penyelamat Malaysia, Akademi Imigresen Malaysia, Institut Kesihatan Umum, Institut Penilaian Negara, Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations and the IKRAM Training and Infrastructure Development Institute. Private training institutions will continue to provide management and other specialised training to meet the demand for highly competent managers to ensure industries become more resilient and competitive in the global market. In this regard, institutions like the Malaysian Institute of Management, Institute of Bankers, FMM Institute of Manufacturing and Malaysia Institute of Human Resource Management will be encouraged to expand and strengthen their training programmes. The National Productivity Corporation will also expand their training capacity. During the Plan period, the entrepreneurial training programmes will be intensified to promote greater self-reliance and competitiveness, particularly among Bumiputera entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial training will be expanded, among others, by increasing the capacity of the Institut Keusahawanan Negara. As a coordinating agency for entrepreneurial training, the institute will enhance the quality of and standardise the entrepreneurial training programmes. The training programmes will also emphasise positive values and ethics. In addition, programmes will be undertaken to change the perception of society, particularly school leavers and graduates, on self-employment. To encourage and facilitate school leavers and graduates in self-employment and foster entrepreneurship, integrated information on self-employment will be provided. During the Plan period, with the greater focus on agricultural development, agricultural agencies will expand their retraining and skills upgrading programmes for farmers and entrepreneurs as well as their employees. The existing training programmes offered by various agricultural agencies will be reviewed with the objective, among others, to strengthen commercialisation and management skills, improve environmental management as well as place greater emphasis on ethics and positive values. To intensify and strengthen the provision of training in agricultural-related areas, agricultural training institutions will offer part-time training programmes and conduct short-courses. Towards this end, training needs analysis will be conducted to measure the skills gap as well as identify the types and level of skills required in the agriculture sector.

Increasing Accessibility.

Access to industrial skills training will be increased to expand the supply of highly skilled human resource, particularly at diploma and advanced diploma levels. The capacity of advanced training institutions will be expanded and upgraded and training programmes will be redesigned to meet the increasing demand for skilled workers with entrepreneurial skills. Private training providers will continue to complement Government efforts through the provision of quality training. Quality Improvement. The quality of industrial skills training will be enhanced through accelerating the development of market-driven curriculum, which is based on the new NOSS, strengthening collaboration with industry, improving the quality of instructors, reviewing the accreditation procedure of the training providers and assessment method for trainees and expanding the application of e-learning. In addition, to improve the planning, designing and implementation of training programmes, the management information system in training agencies will be strengthened and the National Advisory Council on Education and Training will be established.

2.0 Causes unemployment in Malaysia

2.1 Lack of experience

Nowadays, the employer will find the worker who had a lot of experienced one compared to the one without experience. Lack of experience and skills are also causes of graduate unemployment. Generally, most organizations prefer to employ graduates with experience. Furthermore, in Malaysia, the private sector today is not interested in recruiting local graduates because they lack essential skills, such as proficieny in English and interpersonal skills (Nor Hartini, 2007). There appears to be a disparity between what employers require and what skills graduates have. In view of this, the government has implemented several measures to reduce the problem of graduate unemployment. One such measure is the introduction of several Training programmes for fresh graduates. For instance, the Ministry Of Human Resources, through their training agencies, has introduced the ‘Unemployed Graduates Training Scheme’ in order to equip graduates with certain skills and experience (Chapman, Chew; Tan,2007). The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, likewise, has initiated a programme where established retailers have started recruiting graduate and diploma holders as management trainees. This scheme aims to not only provide employment opportunities for fresh graduate but also to expose them to fields in the private sector other than the ones they specialized in (Chin, 2007).
Another measure involves a review of the tertiary education system. Soft skill Development should be incorporated into the education curriculum where students can participate in extracurricular activities to enhance soft skills such as personal qualities, interpersonal skills and, critical and creative thinking (Nor Hartini, 2007). These soft skills should be acquired through participation in extracurricular activities while they are studying for their degrees. A lecturer, for instance, can develop students’ skills and knowledge by stimulating their minds with discussions and case studies. According to Nor Hartini, these skills will enable them to communicate effectively, manage relationships, lead team, solve problems and succeed in the job market. Thus, it is evident that lack of skills and experience are the main causes for graduate unemployment. To overcome this problem, the Ministry of Higher Education must ensure that the tertiary education system is relevant and up-to-date. It should continually evaluate the tertiary programs to help produce quality graduates who meet the needs of industries. Also industries need to play their part by providing more opportunities for training fresh graduates while the graduates themselves need to be more open and take up these offers.

2.2 Lack of social and communication skill

Many employers cited lack of necessary communication skills, poor command of English and lack of confidence during interviews had led to increasing number of unemployed graduates. Don said communication skills and language proficiency were best acquired through constant practice. According to the Minister of Human Resources, more than 65% of female graduates in this country are employed because they lack social and communication skills in addition to a poor command of language and low levels of self-confidence. He added that many female graduates had achieved excellent academic results but could not secure employment without the relevant skills required in the labour market. The number of unemployed female graduates is also much higher in comparison male graduates (The Star, 2005). It has been assumed that the lack of experience and skills are the causes leading to the unemployment of graduate’s. In Malaysia, the private sector today is not interested in recruiting local graduates because they lack several important skills, such as the capacity to communicate well in English, a lack of ICT proficiency, and a lack of interpersonal skills. This scenario reveals that, there is a skills gap between what skills are required by employers and what skills graduates have. Suitable degree programs are not the only mechanisms for developing work skills in higher education. Students are encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities which may assist them in developing soft skills. It is important for a student to begin accumulating as much work related experience (soft skills) as early as they can. Soft skills are generally categorized into three areas; character, interpersonal skill and critical and creative thinking. These skills enable one to communicate effectively, manage relationships, lead a team, and solve problems. Soft skill development should be inculcated into the education syllabus. It is important to teach soft skills required to survive and succeed in the work market.

According to the Dearing Report (NCIHE, 1997) the primary purpose of higher education is to prepare students for the world of work. Graduates need to be given opportunities to develop generic attributes besides disciplinary knowledge. Generic attributes include communication skills, problem-solving skills, computer literacy, information literacy, ability and willingness to learn, and teamwork. Previous research conducted on graduate employment addressed generic competencies as skills, abilities and attributes that complement the field of specialization of employees for work performance (Day, 1988; Sandberg, 1991; Sohal, 1997; ; Mitchell, 2003 cited in Quek, 2005). It was noted that employers prefer workers who had generic competencies like interpersonal skills, and leadership skills, teamwork, oral and written skills (Lee et al, 2001, cited in Quek, 2005). Most academia in Malaysia feel that the education system is only concerned with results. These are the processes in Teaching and Learning, and part of the process is the way the assessment strategies are designed and whether the instructional strategies and the students’ learning experience compensate with what the course is designed for. It was again reported that there were plenty of jobs but many graduates cannot fit into the positions because they lacked the necessary skills (language and communication skills) that their prospective employers were looking for. This view is supported by the Higher Education Ministry of Malaysia (HEMM), that unemployment among graduates is due to the lack of generic competencies in undergraduates program; there was lack of application of classroom learning in the tertiary education to the workplace performance. In a research conducted by McHardy and Henderson (1994), a ‘knowledge/skills matrix was develop to facilitate the gap that might occur in the transition of knowledge and skills during which the students are undergoing their process of learning. The matrix has helped educators to see the changes that need to be made to the pedagogic technique (lectures, presentation, and tutorial activities). The integration of creativity into business education aids students in preparing for the creative workplace environments that are becoming more common as organizations seek to develop creative competencies as one of their few sustainable competitive advantages in today’s marketplace (Driver, 2001). A degree alone is not enough to succeed in today’s competitive job market. In a survey reported by the BBC, four out of 10 large employers in the United Kingdom struggled to fill graduate vacancies because of a shortage of applicants with the right skills. Another study done by Monash University in Australia, showed that more than one-third of foreign students graduated from Australian universities had very poor English skills (Azizan, 2007). According to the study, all graduates tested had enough command of the language to cope with most situations but were still not capable of conducting a sophisticated discourse at a professional level The study reported that 23.5% of students from Malaysia did not meet the required English standard.

2.3 Education in Malaysia. Choosing the wrong course and the poor result

In a Malay Mail article yesterday, it was highlighted that a substantial portion of the registered 66,000 unemployed graduates are from some of the most popular courses. Business administration, computer and information technology, and engineering are the most sought-after courses by many school leavers. This has resulted in a high number of unemployment among graduates from these disciplines – 19,900 business administration graduates, 9,500 from computer and information technology, and 7,500 engineering graduates. While it may not have been intended, the article may have inadvertently sent the message to prospective university students that the above courses are to be avoided due to low demand for their skills post-graduation. I’d like to state that this will probably be a wrong “read” of the above statistics.

First of all, while the number of graduates unemployed from these courses are the highest, the article did not give any statistics on proportion of candidates from each of these faculties are unemployed. This information will be key, as given that the above courses are the largest faculties in the universities in Malaysia (or even inclusive of overseas universities), then obviously the likelihood will be the absolute numbers of unemployed from these faculties will be largest is very high. For e.g., the number of students taking B. Sc. Chemistry probably do not exceed 2,000 students in the entire Malaysia per annum, and will hence never make it to the top unemployed list, even *if* possibly up to 50% of them remain unemployed.

Secondly, a point which I will further comment in subsequent blog entries, many of the students of these courses, particularly those in IT and Engineering should not have “qualified” for these courses in the first place. It is my opinion that many of the students from STPM/SPM who have been accepted into these courses in the Malaysian universities, should never have qualified for these courses in the first place. The entry level of the courses in some of the local universities has been set so low, that these poor students will never have a chance to perform credibly in these courses – resulting in their unemployment status. For e.g., I’ve seen many graduates with very poor results in Mathematics (and Additional Mathematics) in SPM/STPM but qualified for these courses. With a poor foundation in Mathematics, it would have been better for these candidates to have taken other courses which they may have performed better. Without giving undue disrespect to the weaker candidates, if you don’t have at least a B4 for your additional mathematics for SPM, avoid Engineering or Computer Science courses! In Singapore, the requirements are even higher with candidates accepted into these courses only if they have a minimum “B” grade for the Further Mathematics in ‘A’ Levels.

Further to the second point above, the courses in Computer Science and Engineering in many of the local universities are already very lacking in academic rigour. With a large number of candidates graduating with CGPAs below 3.0, it is unsurprising that this lot becomes “unemployable” in the Malaysian private sector. The bottom-line is, students should pick courses based on their capabilities and not based on what’s apparently “in-demand” out there (e.g., IT courses). If you are not cut out for IT or Engineering, putting yourselves through the courses is not going to make you more employable in the IT or Engineering markets. I can testify that there is a shortage of IT candidates in Malaysia, and we need more capable IT staff. However, that does not mean that we’ll employ anybody who receives a piece of degree paper (no matter how bad his grades are abilities are).
I’ve just completed yesterday, a job interview with a candidate with a degree in Multimedia from a local private university. From a fairly candid discussion with regards to the degree course content and the candidates’ job prospects, it has encouraged me to write about an issue that has been on my mind for a while – the “neither here nor there” degree courses. To give a bit of background, in the internet and multimedia industry today, there are typically 2 types of candidates employers are looking for – (1) the computer programmer (obviously) and (2) the graphic/multimedia designer (to design the various interactive screens, animated sequences etc.). The Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia is not the only such course around which is weak and often do not meet the demands of the IT employers. There are now plenty of fanciful IT courses with trendy names hoping to attract students into these faculties – a commercial ploy by many of these colleges. Some of the courses which I find are particularly weak and are “neither here nor there” would be degrees in “e-commerce”, “internet technology”, “multimedia application management” etc. What makes the situation worse is many students specifically choose some of the above subjects because they are known to be less academically rigorous, and hence providing them with an easier path to a degree in IT or computer science. Unfortunately, there is a lack of objective information evaluated by independent parties on the usefulness of these courses in the job market. Students are therefore advised to consider very carefully the courses to choose to subscribe to in university as a supposedly minor difference between “multimedia” and “computer science” will actually result in vastly different outcomes subsequent job placement and future career options. The government for obvious reasons will not be able to discriminate between the better or poorer graduates in terms of qualifications. Hence as a result, easily employable first class honours graduates will still qualify for the scheme (should the employers be aware of the scheme in the first place). As a result, part of the subsidy is basically “wasted” on graduates who may have otherwise found easy employment irrespective of whether the subsidy was available. However, there being no statistics or studies provided to show the quality of candidates who have managed to find work with the scheme – it’ll be difficult to measure its actual effectiveness. As an employer myself, I’m more than happy for the scheme to continue because I will be able to obtain subsidy for candidates whom I would have hired anyway. As part of the scheme however, the government should first engage qualified consultants to conduct seminars to assist these graduates improve their employability. This task should actually be that of our universities, but unfortunately they have not been able to fulfil their role in this. The very first step to gaining employment is to have a decent resume which will “open the door” to an interview with the prospective employers. This is a case of the graduates not being serious in the job application process. The process today is now so convenient via emails and internet recruitment sites, they no longer pay serious attention to detail and no longer attempt to review their resume and application. They just “rush” to complete and submit the application without giving thought to the fact that submitting a hastily completed application and poorly formed resume is not going to increase the chances of employment by much.

1.0 Introduction

Unemployment occurs when a person is available to work and seeking work but currently without work. The prevalence of unemployment is usually measured using the unemployment rate, which is defined as the percentage of those in the labour force who are unemployed. Nearly 60,000 Malaysian graduates are unemployed, a government survey has revealed. It also confirmed what has long been known: Most of the unemployed are Malays from lower-income families who lack command of the English language. Also, their qualifications are mostly not in demand. These results emerged recently from a project initiated by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, where the unemployed were asked to sign up for jobs. The project was initiated to gauge the extent of the problem and to enable the government to fine-tune its job creation policies. As many as 59,250 graduates signed up, a New Straits Times report said. Many of the participants were Malays with degrees in business studies or information technology from public universities, where courses are taught in Malay. Earlier estimates had put the number of jobless in the country at between 18,000 and 82,000. The latest results also showed that 71 percent of the unemployed were female, 61 percent were from poor families, and 80 percent were educated with government loans from the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN). Those surveyed cited the lack of job experience, poor command of the English language with inadequate communication skills, and the possession of qualifications that are not relevant to the job market as reasons for not being able to find suitable employment. “Most have been jobless for more than a year,” Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn was quoted as saying. The results have led to some introspection. There are concerns that there could be many more degree-holders on the list of 400,000 individuals who are currently unemployed. The results of the survey will also likely give a boost to the government’s ongoing efforts to promote English usage in schools and to encourage Malays to take up relevant degree courses. “We have highly qualified graduates coming here who cannot construct a proper sentence in English. They lack confidence and it is not difficult to imagine why they are jobless,” Geraldine Fernandes, the operator of a private college, told The Straits Times. Over the past two years, colleges and schools like the one run by her have been helping to retrain unemployed graduates to make them more marketable. The Human Resources Ministry had spent up to RM100 million (about C$31.3 million) during the past few years on such programs. A recent survey found that Universiti Malaya, the country’s premier university, has slipped in the rankings. From being among the top 100 universities in the world, it is now ranked below 150. The government has taken steps to address falling standards in universities and schools, by gradually re-introducing the use of English in schools. The language is now being used to teach science and mathematics in primary schools. Eventually, English could replace Malay as the language of instruction for these two subjects, right up to tertiary level.

1.1 Statistic unemployment in Malaysia

In the Malaysia Economic Report 2008, you can see the workforce statistics for Malaysia employment between the year 2003 and year 2007. The statistics are divided into different sectors and industries, where you can see the number of the workforce, as well as percentage of growth (or reduction) as compared to the previous years. Manufacturing sector has shown to be one of the most important backbones of the Malaysia economy, even though the trend of growth has been steadily declining. The global competitiveness of the industry has driven many multinational companies to look for other alternative manufacturing avenues, particularly China. Perhaps, it is just true that some Free Trade Industrial Zones in Malaysia are facing extinction in the next years to come. The Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock and Fishing, combined together, have been showing some worrying trend, with less and less number of people making up the industry as the years go by. This is not a good sign, especially considering the country which is rich with its agriculture and forestry resources. For the last 10 years, Malaysia has been the biggest exporter of palm oil and a few other agricultural products and if this is to be maintained, something needs to be done. The merger of Golden Hope, Guthrie and Sime Darby hopefully will be able to revive the industry and return it to its glory days. The Government sector includes those in the public administration, health, education and defences. Clearly, from the growth chart, this is the steadiest sector with very much linear growth for the past 3 years. However, with the new salary revision for public service employees, the competition to enter the public sector employment will be even more competitive and challenging. Gaining employment in the government sector is definitely the one that will frustrate job seekers the most. The combination of Finance, Insurance, Real Estates and Business Services with the Other Services (8) will show us that the services sector is the most vibrant and highest growing industry at the moment. It eclipses the manufacturing sector, which for many years have been dominating and driving the economy’s growth engine. This is where you need to slot yourself in. The Construction industry has been declining from 2004 to 2006 but came back with a bang in the year 2007. 2008 promises to be better yet with many gigantic projects, including the ECER (East Corridor Economic Region), NCER (North Corridor Economic Region), IDC (Iskandar Development Corridor), SER (Sabah Economic Corridor) and SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) developments set to take places.
Statistic shown that most of the unemployed graduates are from IT-related fields, and breakdown of the unemployment graduates are as follows:

Malay: 57,072 96.33%
Chinese: 1,027 1.73%
India: 1,007 1.70%
Others: 144 0.24%

Total: 59,250


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