BY AKMAL NASIR
The current situation is difficult for graduates and final year students of higher learning institutions. According to statistics released by 2016 Bank Negara Report, the unemployment rate among youths with higher education is 15.3 percent compared to youth with no higher education at 9.8 percent in 2015.
Possibly hundreds of resumes and job application e-mails are being sent for every job advertisement published by employers. Thousands of youths attend every career fairs, hoping to get a job as fast as possible. This group of people is already bound with various commitments like loans and dependents.
The reality is that many graduates remain unemployed for too long. The opportunities for them are shrinking due to the current economic situation causing companies and organisations to reduce recruitment.
If this phenomenon is allowed to continue without any solution, then the next five years will see a galore of graduates who will continue to be jobless without the opportunity to gain any experience in working life.
What is the drastic move done by Umno BN to overcome this problem?
The Umno-BN government to today merely thinks that graduates need to work in fields that are not related to what they have studied, as an excuse that in these times, they should not be too choosy. Graduates are almost forced to work in fields that are different than what they have studied.
This will not secure their future, what more they are even finding it difficult to apply for suitable jobs even after several years since they do not have the experiences in the field of their choice.
It is more disappointing when our graduates miss out on opportunities in non-professional sectors when it is now dominated by foreign workers whose numbers are now reaching almost 6 million.
Besides that, employers’ tactic now is to take university students to work under industrial training or internship, for a far lower allowance rather than recruiting normal workers who requires salaries and costly retirement benefits and protections.
If Umno-BN recommends graduates to become entrepreneurs, then there’s the question of how do these graduates get their capitals, and the most important thing is to have the knowledge and passion to venture into this field.
We must remember that most fields in local universities and colleges train students to become workers.
Only a handful of them go on to start small or online businesses while they are studying.
Graduates who are initially trained to work in the industry – finally get frustrated with no one who open their eyes to the reality of working environment.
Recently, the Umno-BN government implemented a programme called Skim Latihan 1 Malaysia (SL1M) that aims to help graduates secure trainings and as a platform for them get employed.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s threat that any Government-Linked Companies (GLC) will not get contracts if they fail to implement SL1M clearly shows how dependant the government is on GLC to reduce unemployment which is becoming increasingly critical.
But the fact is, SL1M is not going on as smooth as what we are told. With a training period of only 6 to 7 months, the trainees seem to be ‘sedated’ temporarily from the pain of unemployment and then they will eventually be out of job again.
My interview with several SL1M alumni revealed that not all trainee will be absorbed in these companies. In fact, there are GLC who refuse to give credit to the SL1M to enter the industry at the end of the programme.
Some of the trainings offered in SL1M such as English communication classes should have been given at the higher learning institution phase, before they graduate and start to look for jobs.
Additionally, the trainees are paid far lesser allowances than normal employees but are forced to do the same tasks. They seem to be exploited to carry out regular tasks with far lesser allowances.
This is because SL1M is considered as a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) instead of an operational cost. Funding SL1M through CSR can reduce tax payment to government and at the same time reduce cost for workers by exploiting trainees.
The impact of Umno-BN’s policy is too weak to overcome unemployment of graduates. This situation should not persist, let alone leaving the youth to suffer as a result of Umno-BN’s administration which is implicated with various issues and scandals that trap citizens.
With the determination by Pakatan Harapan youth leadership to create jobs, I am certain that this issue can be resolved through the “Rebuild the Nation” package that includes restructuring university syllabus to be more training and entrepreneurial oriented, attract investment to open up job opportunities to locals and to reduce foreign worker recruitment as well as technology enhancement so that graduates can also enter non-professional fields.
Let’s together implement changes!
*Akmal Nasir is KEADILAN Youth Strategic Director
BY AKMAL NASIR