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According to a survey by the Bank of Negara in 2016, the rate of youth unemployment in Malaysia is three times the national unemployment rate of 3.1%. (Hanapi and Nordin 1057). In this situation, the Malaysian labor force describes the unemployed as people who are eligible for jobs but have not worked during the comparison period. Such individuals could either be actively finding work or not in the course of the said period (Ismail 95). Worthy of note is the fact that the Malaysian economy suffered a substantial unemployment rate in the 1980s, largely due to the shift from agriculture and mining to manufacturing. During this period, the increased unemployment was a short term adverse effect because the nation regularly attained an 8% gross domestic product (GDP) in the 1980’s and 1990’s as well as steady decrease in unemployment (Shaari et al). However, since 1999, unemployment rate has been on the rise and in the recent years, the issue has become sensitive to the community, particularly among graduates. For instance, the 2015 survey in Malaysia shows that when the overall rate of unemployment was at 3.2%, the rate of unemployment among youths was 10.7% which is three times the national total. Therefore, since several graduates are still unemployed, proper measures should be taken into consideration to solve the problem of unemployment among Malaysian graduates.
At the moment, the transformation of economic structure in Malaysia is believed to be a huge cause of unemployment. First, because the manufacturing sector was the strongest and the primary contributor towards employment until the economic downturn that was experienced in 1997 which made several people to lose their jobs (Ismael 94). Secondly, from that time, the agricultural industry has been increasingly replaced by the services and manufacturing sector. The service industry particularly requires persons who possess appropriate skills such as interpersonal and communication skills yet getting graduates with such qualities has become quite challenging in Malaysia. This is because, most students are merely trained in the appropriate technical but not soft skills. Furthermore, English is not an official language in Malaysia and most subjects either in primary, secondary or public are not instructed in English. As a result this has made it difficult for most local graduates to communicate in English as they enter into the real world (Ismael 94). This is a very unlucky scenario because English is commonly used privately, in business and also in government departments in Malaysia at the moment (Leong). Even further, it is a common tendency among employers nowadays to seek individuals who are flexible and possess soft skills such as personality features, communication skills and competencies. Yet, Hanapi and Nordin (1057) state that Malaysian graduates lack most of these skills and even more they have weaknesses in critical thinking, management, self-confidence and skills for interaction. Such aspects have made it difficult for graduates to get jobs that meets their qualifications. As a result, the rate of joblessness among Malaysian graduates remains baffling, with 65500 graduates documented as jobless, a representative of 16.7% of the sum jobless individuals based on the statistics department (Omar and Rajoo 368).
It is therefore important that the problem of graduate unemployment is resolved because it can lead to social problems. For instance, the issue has received much debate and discussion at several forums, seminars as well as other platforms by several parties such as government agencies, academics, non-governmental agencies and employment agencies. It is a matter that is considered of grave concern because it damages the image of Malaysian education system as well as impedes the aspiration of the nation being a developed economy (Shamsuddin et al. 16). Furthermore, when the problem is left unattended the issue might result in socio-economic issues which would eventually affect the national finances. This is because the economy of a developing nation such as Malaysia is directly linked to the rate of unemployment. For instance, it is clear that human capital resources particularly those that are competitive and full of potential are essential in this era of globalization. And while it is not highlighted in any institutional reports, such type of human capital is important in establishing a country or organizational performance. When there are no qualified human capital resources, a nation or an organization grows weak because the absence of human aspect can induce fresh ingenuities in socioeconomic practices.
To solve the problem of graduate unemployment in Malaysia, it is important for the government to implement a training scheme which is referred to as Skim Latihan 1 Malaysia (SL1M). This training ought to be initiated by the government as a scheme, plan or idea to help local companies hire their graduates. In the course of this training, graduates will be exposed to various creative and critical thinking skills as well as assisted to generate fresh ideas to meet the demands of the job market (Shamsuddin et al. 16). Even further, the training will enhance the chances of graduates getting employed through on job and soft skills training. Under the training of soft skills, graduates will be taught in areas that involve, analytical, creative, communication, administrative flexibility, grooming and propriety. On the other hand, job training will involve fresh graduates being taught to face real world working scenarios. As graduates enrol for this training, it is expected that the program will take ten months maximum and in the course of the training, individuals will be provided with remunerations. To further, encourage organizations to hire locals, the government can also come up with a structure where companies receive incentives as they hire locals but receive heavy taxes when they employ foreigners to do the jobs (Shanmugam). These approaches to reducing unemployment among Malaysian graduates are beneficial and Shamsuddin et al. (16) further illustrates that the strength of SL1M program is that it has been operational for seven years now since it was created in 2011. But, most recent statistics indicate that unemployment levels among graduates have been increasing and this means that more fresh graduates need to be enrolled. At the same time these programs are expensive and are not well received by graduates who consider their duration as too short.
The second solution to the problem of graduate unemployment in Malaysia include the provision of a more technical and vocational education system. This is an initiative that requires the action of the education institution to conduct a complete overhaul of the education system to improve the achievements of students, education syllabus or the curriculum which is in line with the matter needed in the job market. For instance, Hanapi and Nordin (1059) states that effective time of learning, climate of the classroom, curriculum quality, leadership and acknowledgement of an achievement all affect the efficiency of an education institution. Also, in the process of overhauling the education system, it is important that the education institution uses lecturers to act as good models and examples to students because the eminence of lecturers is a vital aspect that defines the value of university graduates. These instructors are not just there to perform their everyday undertaking of educating but their conduct becomes models and examples to learners. As a result lecturers are expected to have personal qualities and good characters while at the same be socially and professionally competent. Making an overhaul of the education system is essential for students because it improves the quality of education and makes them ready for the job market. Therefore, one strength of this solution is that it will complement the job market by providing students who have appropriate communication and technical skills. However, despite the fact that this program will provide both quality technical and communication skills, it is important to understand that technical courses have limited space because of the high financial restrictions.
To further solve the problem of graduate unemployment, it is important to reduce the growth of private colleges and universities which are offering courses that are not on demand in the job market (Foon). The reduction of these growing universities can either be done by individuals, graduates non-governmental organizations or the government by suppressing their growth. On the other hand, appropriate guidelines should be installed so that they can prevent the increased growth of tertiary institutions which emphasize on quantity instead of quality. With the growth of higher education, immense attention ought to be paid to the prospects of the labour market because imbalances can emerge between the labour market and higher education (Ismail 95). Particularly there have been issues regarding the magnitude of graduate joblessness and the transition from universities and colleges to work as well as issues of job mismatches. In light of all these, reducing the sprouting private colleges and universities is an important approach because when the supply of graduates exceeds the job market, most of the individuals end up jobless. The strength of this approach is based on the idea that each year, there are too many graduates being produced yet the job market is not big to accommodate all the graduates. Therefore, this approach provides that the number of universities needs to be reduced so that few students are prepared for the job market. Nonetheless, one limitation of this approach lies in the fact that while reducing the number of colleges and universities might encourage better courses to be offered, the existing universities are unable to cater for the demands of students who are qualified.
The issue of unemployment among Malaysian graduates should be solved to increase the national economy and reduce social problems that exist in the nation. The issue has received much debate and discussion at several forums, seminars as well as other platforms by several parties such as government agencies, academics, non-governmental agencies and employment agencies (Foon). It is a problem of grave concern because it damages the image of Malaysian education system as well as impedes the aspiration of the nation being a developed economy in case the problem is left unattended it might result in socio-economic issues that would eventually affect the national finances. For that reason, the institutions of higher learning, the government and also the graduates themselves have to be part of solving this problem. For instance, the government can create training schemes which will enhance the chances of graduates getting employed through on job and soft skills training. Under the training of soft abilities, graduates will be taught in areas that involve, analytical, creative, communication, administrative flexibility and etiquette. On the other hand, job training will involve fresh graduates being taught to face real world working scenarios. On the part of higher learning, the education system can reduce the growing universities and at the same time create appropriate guidelines to prevent the increased growth of tertiary institutions which emphasize on quantity instead of quality. With the growth of higher education, immense attention ought to be paid to the prospects of the labour market because imbalances can emerge between the labour market and higher education (Ismail 95). Finally, graduates need to change their personality and attitudes and start thinking professionally. As a process, they must find experience in different places such as subordinate management which enables them to learn basic things that they would like. Also they need to improve their communication skills, particularly English fluency and other soft skills. Graduates need to take upon themselves to learn a lot of soft skills which are not openly taught in the course of their education. The moment they acquire the attitude of self-confidence, it will help them gain skills and knowledge that is required at places of work.
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