By Ashwin Kumar
THE impact of Covid-19 has seen the country’s job market taking a plunge, with many employers freezing hiring and laying off workers.
According to MIDF Research earlier in May, the rising youth unemployment rate was mainly contributed by the soaring numbers of unemployed graduates, at about 204,000, which makes up 40.5 per cent of the total unemployment.
MIDF said Selangor, the largest employer with 23.2 per cent of the nation’s total, saw an overall jobless rate of 2.8 per cent, and 9.4 per cent for youths last year.
According to Selangor Youth, Sports Development and Human Resource Development Committee chairman
Mohd Khairuddin Othman, the state government is taking several initiatives to ensure that the issues surrounding unemployment are handled well.
“A total of 2.9 million youths populate Selangor, which is almost half of the total population of the state, which houses 6 million people.
“The only way to address this issue is by diversifying the approach,” he told Selangor Journal in a recent interview.
Khairuddin said the state administration expects the unemployment rate for this year to increase to 8.4 per cent due to the pandemic.
“We have projected the unemployment rate after considering the drastic decline in several sectors such as food services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, accommodation, real estate and business activities,” he said.
Among the key strategies taken by the Selangor government to address the matter is to reduce the expected unemployment rate from 8.4 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
“The other way is to raise workforce adaptability by facilitating the youngsters in the state to adopt the use of technology to help both job seekers and employers,” he said.
He also pointed out that the state administration is in the midst of making engagements with the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, the Social Security Organisation, the Malaysian Employers Federation and JobsMalaysia to come up with fresh solutions.
“Our Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari has also suggested for my committee to upskill and reskill the workforce.
“This means Selangor will do its part to train the youth workforce to the digital platform and the opportunities it offers. One has to reskill to survive in the job market.”
Khairuddin said that focus should also be given to gig economy jobs, such as delivery services, as it contributes to economic growth.
“Last year, the state government allocated RM1 million for the Roda Darul Ehsan (RiDE) scheme, which provides a RM350 subsidy to 3,000 youths taking motor licences. The Menteri Besar hoped that with the move, more youths would be able to join the service and logistics sectors in the state.
“The state government was also approached by several e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Food Panda, Grab and Lazada to engage with them in terms of providing the manpower. We will fulfil them.”
Khairuddin also stressed that Selangor is the only Malaysian state to promote micro and small entrepreneurs’ products and services via mass e-commerce platforms during the movement control order (MCO).
A new way to play
Khairuddin said while waiting for the Covid-19 battle to be won, the world has to embrace “new norms” and changes to lifestyle must be made.
“Sports and entertainment, which is a major part of our lives, is one area that is severely affected. In Selangor, all sports facilities including stadiums are not allowed to be used even during the conditional MCO (CMCO), which is in line with the instructions issued by the state government,” he said.
He assured that the state government will come out with guidelines when organising sporting events in the future.
“When will things be back to normal? That’s anybody’s guess. When things are back to normal, the Malaysian League (M-League), for example, is definitely not going to be the same again.
“Now is not the right time to allow a large audience due to the risk of infections. Every aspect of sports must be reviewed before allowing the athletes to participate in competitions again.”
Khairuddin said he is worried that if sporting events are allowed without regulations, a sports cluster will emerge and that will worsen the situation.
On whether stadiums and indoor sporting complexes in the state will be sanitised, Khairuddin said that will depend on the standard operating procedures set by the Health Ministry.
Amirudin has since stated that all parks are now open for outdoor sports and recreational activities from 7am to 7pm.
Many people will turn to esports as an alternative, even though it is traditionally not regarded as a sport.
Khairuddin said he believes that the esports competitions organised by the Selangor government will provide a beneficial alternative to outdoor sports and also inculcate in the participants the spirit of solidarity in staying at home.
“Currently, we are fully focused on online or virtual programmes. We believe that we are providing a good digital platform for youths who have never had the opportunity to participate in esports tournaments that offer great prizes and pioneering professional teams. If these youths can play to win, they will also be able to help their families financially,” he said, referring to the attractive cash prizes offered.
As of May 12, the esports tournaments organised by the state government have registered 22,420 entries. The state administration is aiming for one million participants by year-end. So far, esports games PUBG and Mobile Legends have proven to be the most popular, reaching 10,000 participants each.
The state government has organised a number of esports tournaments such as the Selangor XTIV Virtual E-Sports 2020 and the Selangor Martial Arts Xtiv Virtual 2020. The tournaments are expected to run till the end of the year.