by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE
YOUTH groups want Budget 2022 to address the unemployment rate among youths, which is at its peak due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Undi18 co-founder Tharma Pillai said around 13% to 15% of youths are still jobless and many were forced to take up gig jobs and other forms of temporary work to make a living.
“It would be quite important to help young people build businesses with grants, opportunities and conducting training programmes,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
Tharma believes that foreign corporations would be increasing employment, so the government should look into investor-friendly policies.
“We have so many people from technical field, tourism and more who are now unemployed.
“So, we do need an influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country to address the unemployment crisis.”
Tharma hopes the government will at least mitigate the impact of the pandemic since he had observed the rise of bankruptcy among Malaysian youths who have defaulted on their loans.
“The biggest thing that the government must do is to invest and spend big. Interest rates are low at the moment, so the government has the ability to invest in infrastructure,” he added.
The youths should be able to identify and learn about the different changing markets to become entrepreneurs.
Tharma said another issue that should be addressed is how employers would find the right talent and how the youth should upskill themselves to attract these employers.
Separately, the Malaysian Youth Council presented a memorandum to the government asking for the the country’s minimum wage be revised.
“The salaries offered are very low compared to the cost of living, which has increased, and this has led to unemployment among the youth,” its president Jufitri Joha said in a memorandum.
Therefore, many youths are looking for employment opportunities overseas, which offer higher salaries for even dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs which are not well received in Malaysia.
“The public and private sectors should ensure that employees are paid a salary commensurate with the cost of living, while the government must provide initiatives to companies for providing employment opportunities to Malaysian youths,” said Jufitri.
He also urged the government to review its recruitment policy on foreign workers, by encouraging more locals to take up 3D jobs to address the unemployment among youths.
Another factor for youth unemployment is the mismatch between industry needs and the graduates’ fields of study.
It was reported almost 60% of degree holders and higher are still unemployed a year after graduation because of the mismatch.
“Higher learning institutions need to conduct market research on the programmes of study offered to find outfits relevant to the industry needs and introduce more skills in the course, instead of focusing on theory,” Jufitri suggested.
He also observed that most youth and students lack real-world knowledge for business networking. Hence, Jufitri hopes that a body would be set up solely to train youths on business network development.
He also believes that foreign investors are the key drivers for employment opportunities in Malaysia.
Unfortunately, he said, the country’s political instability had caused many investors to withdraw their investment.
“A clearer economic plan should be (outlined) to ensure foreign investors do not hesitate to invest in Malaysia despite the political changes and a policy in line with the proposed project should be established,” he added.
Although the rapid changes of technology may have provided many opportunities, they are still underutilised by youths.
Therefore, Jufitri said Budget 2022 should develop a youth development hub which can be monitored digitally and modelled after social enterprises.
“Tokoh Belia Negara has established a hub which targets five groups, namely Orang Asli youth, B40 (bottom 40% group) youth, young single mothers (below 40 years old), OKU (persons with disabilities) youth and asnaf youth.
“Data and Internet access for rural areas also need to be strengthened to create equal opportunities.”
Jufitri also suggested that data should be collected from agencies directly involved in entrepreneurship to observe the trends among the youth, so more economic opportunities can be created.