Unemployed graduates fall 4.1%, while skill-related underemployment widen 14.4% in 2021


MALAYSIA’S unemployed graduates decreased by 4.1% last year to 197,400 from 202,400 in 2020.

Department of Statistics Malaysia chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin (picture) said the improvement was supported by the country’s economic recovery in 2021 compared to the previous year.

“In 2021, Malaysia’s economy had gradually regained momentum towards recovery and subsequently foster a healthier labour market situation during the year compared to 2020,” Mohd Uzir said in a statement today.

Last year, there were 5.61 million or 22.1% of graduates in Malaysia of the working age of 15 years and above. 

Degree graduates comprised a share of 53.6% or three million persons, while diploma graduates made up 46.4% or 2.6 million persons.

“Out of total graduates during the year, 4.77 million were in the labour force resulting in graduates’ labour force participation rate of 85%. 

“Year-on-year comparison, the number of the labour force rose 4.6%, attributed to the increase of employed graduates while the number of unemployed graduates decreased,” he said.

The skilled occupations category saw a slight decline by 1.2% (35,800 persons) to 64.8% of graduates, accounting for 2.96 million persons due to the reduction in the managers category.

Meanwhile, other two skilled occupations namely professional and technicians and associate professionals recorded an increase in the number of employed graduates.

Another 32.9% of graduates worked in semi-skilled occupations largely as clerical support workers (14.4%), followed by service and sales workers (10.8%) and craft and related trades workers (4.2%). 

The remaining 2.3% or 106,000 persons were employed in the low-skilled category.

The number of graduates in skill-related underemployment, on the other hand, rose by 14.4% to 1.55 million persons last year from 1.36 million in 2020 as they took up jobs that did not match their qualifications and skills.

“In relation to this, the rate of skill-related underemployment among graduates surged by 2.7 percentage points to 33.9% after registering a significant rise of 4.4 percentage points in 2020 to record 31.2%,” he said.

By economic sector, the majority of the graduates were employed in the services sector (77.4%), followed by 13.7% in the manufacturing sector and 6% in the construction sector. 

Agriculture and mining and quarrying sectors encompassed 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively. 

Meanwhile, higher salaries and wages were recorded for graduates in 2021 compared to the preceding year, whereby the mean monthly salaries and wages grew 2.1% to RM4,582 versus RM4,489 in 2020.

Commenting on the outlook for this year, Mohd Uzir said the country’s transition to endemic in April 2022 is foreseen to sustain a positive economic and labour market situation. 

“On another note, the recent implementation of the Minimum Wage Order 2022 may also bring opportunity for the industries to review and re-strategise business models.

“Given that the increase of wage rate is in tandem with adoption of technology and automation, this could also lead to skilled and high value-added jobs creation which can be filled by graduates’ labour force in this country,” he added.