By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — The [email protected] programme launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad this morning has the potential to reduce the unemployment rate among graduates who have been jobless for over 12 months if it is implemented properly, said Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsudin Bardan.
However, he said, the job market may become more challenging for fresh graduates because employers may only want to hire older graduates due to the incentives offered by the government.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political sociology lecturer Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the initiative’s short-term impact would be good as it would create more jobs and compel graduates not to be too choosy in terms of their job preference.
However, he added, in the long term, the authorities would have to think of new ways to enhance the availability of job opportunities and types of jobs at hand in the labour market.
Under the [email protected] initiative, which was announced under Budget 2020, graduates who have been unemployed for 12 months or more are eligible to receive an incentive of RM500 a month for two years and employers, RM300 a month for the same period.
In his keynote address at the International Social Well-Being Conference 2019 today, organised by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Dr Mahathir said the government was allocating RM6.5 billion for the [email protected] programme in order to create more jobs for Malaysians over the next five years.
At the same conference, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the scheme is set to begin in the second quarter of 2020.
Shamsudin, meanwhile, suggested that employers be given a similar incentive to hire fresh graduates as well so that they can compete in the job market.
New EPF Account
Under the [email protected] initiative, a special EPF account will be set up for eligible individuals to receive the incentives provided to them by the government.
Lim had said that the wage and hiring incentives under [email protected] will be credited directly into the individual’s EPF account, offsetting the statutory contributions by employers and employees.
Any excess amount of the wage incentive will be credited into the special EPF account from which the employee can withdraw any amount any time.
Touching on this, Shamsudin opined that it would be better for employees if the excess amount is credited directly into their own bank accounts instead of a special EPF account.
“Does this mean that the employee has to go to the EPF office every month to withdraw the money? It will be easier for them if the money is channelled directly to them,” he said, adding that EPF should also clarify whether any excess amount from the incentive given to employers would be channelled to them.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Datuk Halim Mansor said since the [email protected] initiative is only a short-term measure to create more jobs, the government should focus more on Industrial Revolution 4.0 and rebranding existing jobs and their job scopes.
“This way, not only will the jobs be upgraded but safety and social security elements will also improve. And, the use of technology in line with IR 4.0 will boost productivity,” he said.