Leap from study to work getting harder for Malaysia’s youth, says Khazanah Research Institute

Soo Wern Jun
·2-min read
KRI said that since 2015, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 24-years-old has consistently been above 10 per cent. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
KRI said that since 2015, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 24-years-old has consistently been above 10 per cent. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 ― Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said its research found that the transition from education to the labour market was increasingly challenging for Malaysian youths.

This has contributed to the increasing youth unemployment rate, said KRI.

According to KRI's report, “Work in an Evolving Malaysia: The State of Households 2020 Part II”, it found the reasons for this to include a disconnect between youth aspirations and job expectations, and labour market realities in Malaysia.

"Firstly, the industries that they are currently working in are often not the industry they prefer to work in.

"The sector with the highest concentration of youths is wholesale and retail trade, where 19.4 per cent of youths were employed, compared to 8.7 per cent who preferred to work in it," said KRI.

In the report, KRI said, out of the total 508,200 unemployed Malaysians in 2019, 79.1 per cent of them were youth aged 15 to 29.

It added that since 2015, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 24-years-old has consistently been above 10 per cent.

It also found that the civil or uniformed services employed only 8.2 per cent of youths, compared to 17.6 per cent who preferred to work in this sector.

"The gap between youth aspirations and job realities are not unique for Malaysia, especially among tertiary-educated youth," said KRI.

While improvements in education has increased the supply of educated and skilled employed persons, KRI said it found many young employed persons to be “over-qualified” for their current jobs.

"About 95 per cent of those working unskilled jobs and half of those in low skilled manual jobs have higher education levels than required by their jobs," said KRI.

Other findings highlighted in the report indicate that youths in different age groups all hoped for steady jobs with job security, work-life balance and interesting tasks.

"High income ranked fourth or fifth in the youth list of the most important job characteristics, hence challenging the popular claims that youths are 'demanding' and have unrealistic job and salary expectations.

"Almost half of youths at different phases of life aspired to work in the public sector and for large international companies as they associate these two working places with job security
and stability," said KRI.

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