Fresh grads expected to earn less

Fresh graduates entering the labour market are significantly more likely to enter ‘non-graduate’ jobs due to job scarcity


FRESH graduates need to strategise their career options to avoid remaining jobless as the country’s unemployment rate remains high due to Covid-19, said experts.

Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow Dr Madeline Berma said graduate employability has been a long-standing issue in Malaysia, adding that fresh graduates entering the labour market are significantly more likely to enter “non-graduate” jobs and earn less in the first few years after graduation.

“This is going to be a difficult year, but we know from previous economic crises that many graduate recruiters continue to hire as they need their businesses ready for the upturn.

“Companies in some sectors, such as hospitality, tourism and leisure, aren’t currently hiring, but graduates shouldn’t lose hope,” she told The Malaysian Reserve when contacted.

Still, there is a silver lining in some industries as the pandemic is opening up new opportunities for students and fresh graduates.

“This can be seen in sectors such as logistics in the supply chain, healthcare, medicine, retailing (particularly online retailers) and computer-related which are actively looking to recruit graduates,” she said.

She also noted that there are signs the economy is expected to recover in 2021, opening more doors for graduates to advance in their career path.

The latest data from Department of Statistics Malaysia showed the number of private sector jobs stood at 8.38 million, 236,000 less compared to the same period last year. But from the 8.38 million jobs, nearly all were filled. Vacancies stood at just 2% in the second quarter of 2020.

In a recent Dewan Rakyat sitting, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said the number of people filing for unemployment benefits under the Social Security Organisation’s Employment Insurance System was 67,068 as of July 31.

Of the unemployment figure, Selangor recorded the highest compared to other states, accounting for about 30% equivalent to 19,914 cases.

This is followed by workers in Kuala Lumpur with 17,972 cases, Penang (7,426), Johor (5,549) and Kedah (3,468).

Other states that recorded job losses in the thousands for the first seven months are Sabah (2,897), Sarawak (2,227), Perak (2,226), Pahang (1,943) and Melaka (1,170).

Putra Business School associate Prof Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said even though the unemployment rate has decreased to 4.9% in June compared to 5.3% in May, the rate is still considered high although economic sectors are in recovery mode.

“One option fresh graduates can consider is to continue their study to a higher degree or look for a job that does not necessarily fall under their specialisation or knowledge area,” he said.

“If they are thinking of looking for jobs now, they need to be ready to accept any type of job and salary that comes with it, as long as the job offers a career path and prospect for a better salary in the future,” he added.

Fresh grads, he said, must be willing to learn new skills that come with the new job even when it is not what they have learned during their study.

He also suggested them to consider a career of becoming entrepreneurs or agropreneurs as there are many incentives and initiatives given by the government to encourage young people to start their own business or become farmers.

Such incentives can help them in utilising the latest technology and techniques to ensure the sustainability of the business.