The bigger issue among graduates is not the problem of unemployment but under-employment, says analyst
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE government’s recent survey on graduates in the labour force serves as proof that graduates are not lazy or selective when it comes to finding jobs.
DM Analytics Sdn Bhd senior researcher Zouhair Mohd Rosli (picture), the co-author of a Unicef report on urban child poverty that was published last year, told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that the bigger issue among graduates is not the problem of unemployment but under-employment.
“It is getting harder for graduates to get jobs that suit their qualifications,” he told TMR recently.
He said there are 1.04 million graduates who are employed in jobs which only require SPM and below last year compared to about 800,000 graduates in 2016.
Zouhair said graduates’ underemployment rate was five times higher than graduates’ unemployment rate in 2016.
However, it has gotten worse as under-employment among graduates was seven times higher than the unemployment rate last year.
“This situation shows that graduates are not choosy, and they are willing to take semi- and low-skilled jobs although they a re overqualified. It is a stern warning especially for policymakers to stop pointing fingers at graduates by saying that they are being lazy or too picky.
“The creation of more quality jobs in the labour market is a must to help improve the issues of underutilisation of labour resources, especially among educated workforce,” Zouhair said.
He said graduates should be employed in skilled jobs where individuals with degree should be employed in professional jobs such as accountant, lawyer, civil engineer and software developer, while those with diploma should be employed as a technician or associate professional involving jobs such as technician, construction supervisor and medical assistant.
However, a significant number of graduates were employed in semi- and low-skilled jobs like clerk, telecommunication service operator, stall and market salesperson, food and beverage supervisor, outlet supervisor, fast food preparer, kitchen assistant and cleaner.
The Department of Statistics Malaysia last Friday issued the Graduates Statistics 2018 — its first data on graduates — which registered an increase of 8.2% in the number of employed graduates to 3.99 million persons, with total unemployed graduates declining 0.1% to 3.9%, or 162,000 persons last year.
Out of those who are unemployed, only 3.5% — including those who had just completed their studies — were not interested in seeking jobs.
The vast majority or 65% were either engaged in household or family responsibilities or attending school or training programmes.
The percentage of graduates employed in semi- and low-skilled jobs rose from 20.7% in 2016 to 26.2% in 2018.
This means that one in four working graduates with degree or diploma has a job that only requires SPM qualification.
On the report as a whole, Zouhair said the biggest disappointment of the statistics is the missing numbers of graduates in semi- and low-skilled jobs by age groups.
“If the figures were made available, the public will be better informed on the actual situation of our ‘newly graduates’ who are under-employed. For example, graduates aged between 25 and 29 years old are employed in jobs that only require SPM and below,” he said.