Tackling youth unemployment amid Covid-19

The PROKENS programme aims to train young people with employable skills to be more marketable to employers

by AZALEA AZUAR/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

FRESH graduates are having it rather hard these days to land a job as the level of difficulty is intensified due to various reasons including the onslaught of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

These days, one would be lucky enough to get that dream job in a few months, but many would have to wait for years for the same opportunity.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM), the number of unemployed graduates in 2018 was 162,000, a 4.6% increase from the previous year.

The survey also revealed that most of them were females which accounted for a total of 56.9% of unemployed graduates, while males made up 43.1%.

Active unemployed graduates accounted for 71.5%, almost half of them were unemployed less than three months, while the rest were unemployed within three months and less than six months.

Even before the pandemic, fresh graduates already had difficulty getting employed.

According to a 2018 survey by JobStreet.com, many fresh graduates were unemployed because they asked for unrealistic salary or benefits (66%).

The other reasons included being choosy about the job or company (58%); having poor character; attitude or personality (58%); a poor command of the English language (52%) and also poor communication skills (49%).

What now? It certainly seems worse.

Graduation ceremonies have to be postponed, while some graduates are unable to receive their transcripts.

Some job interviews had to be cancelled during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period and employers would think twice before hiring fresh graduates as the environment now is challenging.

The Malaysian Employers Federation ED Shamsuddin Bardan predicted that the chances of fresh graduates being employed are less than 50%.

To make it worse, Malaysia’s unemployment rate for March this year is 3.9% which marks the highest since June 2010 (3.6%).

The maximum unemployment rate for this year might go higher, ranging from 3.5% to 5.5%, according to DoSM’s chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin. So how do we brave the storm?

On the bright side, there are a few initiatives that have been carried out to address these issues.

As announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the government will provide incentives with RM600 a month to school leavers and graduates as part of the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan.

This is to tackle unemployment issues among youths and increase the marketability of graduates.

In an effort to aid the youths who are currently affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) has collaborated with HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd to launch the PROKENS programme.

This programme is supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry and it aims to train young people with employable skills to be more marketable to employers.

Participants for this programme would have the chance to improve and develop important skills such as soft skills, digital skills, interview and career guidance, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.

HSBC Malaysia CEO Stuart Milne said the bank has long supported education internationally.

“HSBC Malaysia’s contribution towards the PROKENS Employability Skills Training programme signifies our commitment to help people in local communities to develop their employability and skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow, to thrive in the modern world,” he said.

Milne said the programme will help the youth acquire new skills or refine existing skills to help them gain employment to sustain their livelihoods.

“We strongly believe that this initiative, which falls under our corporate sustainability pillar, plays an important role in managing the impact of Covid-19 among the youths,” he added.

Milne said HSBC Malaysia is funding a total of RM599,750 for this initiative.

MBM president Jufitri Joha said young people should apply for the programme.

To qualify for the PROKENS training programme, potential participants would need to undergo assessments. Suitable candidates would receive a scholarship that covers the overall programme cost.

The scholarship is fully covered by the MBM from the contribution made by HSBC Malaysia.

The PROKENS programme trainers are mainly experts in areas such as technology motivational and guidance coaches, entrepreneurs, CEOs of SMEs and experienced youth leaders.

The programme, scheduled to start from September 2020 to November 2020, is available in four zones.

The areas are Central Zone which covers Selangor (Selangor, KL, Putrajaya); the Southern Zone in Melaka (Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan); the Northern Zone in Kedah (Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Perak); and the Borneo Zone in Sabah (Sabah, Labuan, Sarawak).

There are plans to extend the programmes to all states in the future. The deadline for registration would be on Aug 28, 2020.

For more information about the PROKENS programme, feel free to contact Alia or email at [email protected]