Well once you are out of university, the real challenges begin. First, you gotta get a job, and in this economy, you are not guaranteed to go into the one you want immediately. Unless you are really lucky. Sometimes, just getting any job is a challenge, there are many students like you out there in Malaysia who are seeking the same thing:

A job. Some money and maybe, a sense of satisfaction from the money you got from that job.

Well, too bad because not everything is given on a silver platter, I know it’s rough. But the statistics don’t lie.

According to the 2018 Higher Education Statistics conducted by The Ministry of Education in Malaysia, out of the 290,000 students that graduate, only 1 out of 5 lend a job within the first 6 months post-graduation. And about 5.8 /10 people below the age of 24 are unemployed. This is a bad situation for employment in Malaysia, especially for young folks.

Having that shiny degree, well, it doesn’t guarantee you a job as 25% of degree-holders don’t get a job and among those unemployed, 35% of them studied in the fields of social sciences, business and law, 24.1% of them from engineering, manufacturing and law and 11.3% of them are from sciences, mathematics and computing.

Why?

There are various reasons why this may occur. One of these reasons is the prioritization of different skills in both the education system and employers. For example, education institutes might say that academic and professional qualifications are key to obtaining a career, while employers are looking for experience and soft skills.

A young student might have a harder time finding a job after university due to their lack of experience or lack of references as compared to someone who already has experience.

Another reason that is on part with the graduates themselves is that they underestimated the importance of having entrepreneurship skills which might help them advance in their career or start their own business.

Graduates are also influenced by external market changes and economic, as fluctuations within the market create a sense of uncertainty among graduates.

Foreign workers is another factor that contributes to the youth unemployment rate in Malaysia. Foreign workers, whether they have legal or illegal status within the country are likely to get chosen due to the fact that they can be paid less. This issue is more prevalent when dealing with illegal workers.

There also seems to be a slight job searching mismatch before, between young job seekers and employers. Those seeking jobs usually attend job fairs or public employment services while employers use online platforms.

There are also misconceptions about the unemployed youth which result in some people not really caring about the issue at hand. One of these misconceptions is that people assume that young workers just want more money, well here are the numbers, the average income of young employees is around RM1,846. This is lower than the RM2,400 or RM3,000 salary which employees say the youth wants.

Another misconception we can address is the notion that young people are just being too choosy, again, let’s look at the numbers and statistics. 95% of people in unskilled jobs and 50% of employers in low skill jobs are over-educated and most of these jobs that they are doing are not relevant to what they have studied.

Unemployment among the youth is one of the critical political issues as well as a burden for those living through it.

Malaysia will have a generation of economically disregarded youth which can lead to far-reaching consequences on the economy and social landscape.

So what can be done?

The best thing that fresh graduates can do is get some work experience while they are at university if they can. Some courses require that a student goes to an internship in a business relevant to their field.

Or once they graduate, start applying for internships as they are a great way to learn about the industry. Even if they don’t pay as much as full-time jobs, applying for internship programs can give the experience a student needs to stand out when being looked at by employers.

And it should be noted that with Industrial Revolution 4.0, there is now a higher demand for jobs in the technology industry and employers are looking for those with digital skills such as:

Digital marketing, software and application development, e-commerce, big data analytics and database management.

Traits are another different thing that employers look for in a worker if you have great problem-solving skills, communication skills, and ability to work independently, a willingness to learn and the ability to work under pressure, you might just have a shot.

The other ways in which graduates can improve their employability is by:

1)     Improving your soft skills: Graduates can participate in an extracurricular activity which may help develop their problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills. They can also try out for leadership roles in the university. And while they are in university, they could try to take up modules which prepare the student for the future.

2)     Developing your Career Capital: Graduates can find out what skills are the most in-demand in their respective field of study. They can take time to improve these skills and as mentioned before, take up internships.

3)     Starting your own business: If graduates a really ambitions, then they can consider trying to start-up their own business in the future. University can provide entrepreneurship programmes or you can try taking advice or mentorship from established entrepreneurs themselves. There are also a number of support agencies and programmes by the government which help those who seek to start a business as well.

What can the system do?

Education institutes and employers can work together to overcome the mismatch of skills they believe are important.

Educational reforms need to be fast to address what is needed in the current job market and what are the skills required and a major overhaul in the education system might be a considerable option.

An introduction of a more integrated system that can provide up-to-date information about economic growth areas and associated skills as well as details on training options and pathways made available to young people who wish to pursue particular career options, could really be a beneficial tool.

The Government should also ensure that the importance of unemployed youths is looked into, in fact, they already are and hopefully, this issue may be fixed to a certain degree in the future.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article should give some insight into the issue of unemployed graduates and youths. It is a problem which affects not only the youths involved but our society.

A large number of unemployed youths might also show how a government has disregarded those who need help, fortunately, this should change with new programmes and increased awareness.

The issue, to say the least, is a rather depressing one. Graduates confidence and mental wellbeing may also be affected if they can’t find a job that is in the field they studied so hard for.

And not everyone is ambitious, many youths are not given the motivation they need to stand out and this may be the result of a lack of aide universities offer.

But it’s not all bad, as said many times, we are now in a period where this issue has the potential to be rectified. All we need to do is come together and work towards ensuring that future generations of students do not suffer as many did in the past.