A recent report revealed that the youth unemployment rate in Malaysia has spiked up to 10.7%. This is three times more than the national unemployment rate which is 3.1%.
These numbers from Bank Negara's 2016 annual report were mentioned in an exclusive piece by Malaysiakini on youth unemployment in Malaysia.
The news site spoke to Jobstreet Malaysia senior marketing communications executive Jessica Heng, who said that the company's 2017 survey revealed the top five reasons why the unemployment rate among fresh graduates in Malaysia is rising, namely:
1. Unrealistic salary or benefits expectations (72%)
2. Too picky about the job or company (64%)
3. Poor character, attitude or personality (64%)
4. Poor command of the English language (59%)
5. Poor overall communication skills (53%)
The Jobstreet 2017 survey also saw 75% of employers saying that the quality of the graduates are "only average"
Talking about hiring patterns, Jobstreet Malaysia country manager Chook Yuh Yng, said that employers generally prefer candidates with experience instead of hiring and training them from scratch. She added that employers need to put some effort into training young graduates, rather than just hiring "ready-made talent".
Meanwhile, Penang Institute social studies and statistics programme senior analyst Yeong Pey Jung, told Malaysiakini that young graduates are also struggling to find jobs as they are competing with other candidates that are highly experienced.
"In a trying economy, companies will always choose to hire someone with experience, rather than spending resources to train fresh graduates, leading to fewer opportunities for the youth," she explained.
Having said that, Yeong also stressed that young graduates' unrealistic starting salary expectations and their unwillingness to settle for anything lesser than what they want can be detrimental to their job search.
"In this sense, if the youths are unable to accept a position that is beneath their expectations, the period of unemployment will be lengthened as they continue to search for the 'right' job," she said, adding that Penang Institute's research shows that quite a number of local college students are not even aware of the starting salaries for fresh graduates according to industries.
To battle the complex job market and growing demands for experienced graduates, Yeong said that young people should improve their soft skills.
Basically, up their game by perfecting their communication and interview skills and learning how to write good resume and cover letters.
"In terms of experience, companies should offer internships to university students so that they can gain knowledge and experience of the workforce. For more technical jobs, apprenticeships can be introduced as part of vocational skills training," suggested Yeong.
Agreeing with Yeong, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, said that a lot of youths lack the ability to communicate their skills effectively to their potential employers.
"The youths are likely to be the last to be hired and the first to be made redundant," he said.
Sarah, a 24-year-old, who's employed in the local media industry thinks that the best way to deal with the "unrealistic salary expectations" problem would be to raise the starting salary to match current living standards.
"Five years ago the fresh graduate pay was RM2,500. Five years later, today, it's still RM2,500. How la?"
"A can of tuna used to cost around RM4, it's now RM5.30. The living expenses have increased, but the starting salary for a fresh graduate remains the same and young people are expected to manage. Isn't that unrealistic?" she asked.
26-year-old Rachel who works in the retail industry, on the other hand, understands why most employers don't see the point in offering a high salary to fresh graduates.
"Most often, fresh grads don't have the experience and skill set that are required in to excel in their jobs. The university education may not always be applicable when applied to real life.
"As a job-seeker, I can see why these fresh graduates feel like they should be paid a certain amount, as they sometimes think their skills and education are worth as much. But, you also need to understand that in the employers' point of view, they are looking at how much your skills and knowledge can contribute to the company," she opined.
What do you think about this situation? Where do you think the problem lies at? Let us know in the comment section below.