0539 GMT January 29, 2020
According to a report by The Star compiled by AmBank Head of Research and Chief Economist Anthony Dass, the country's youth unemployment rate is 10.8 percent in 2017, more than three times higher than the overall unemployment at about 3.4 percent.
This includes unemployed individuals aged between 15 and 24, which covers those who have just completed secondary education or graduated from colleges and universities.
So, why are local employers not hiring young people in Malaysia? More so, why can't Malaysian youth seem to secure the right jobs in the country?
One of the main reasons by Dass is slower hiring as many businesses are being cautious about expanding their workforce due to moderate economic performance.
There is also a wide gap between unemployed young men and women.
The labor force participation rate among young males is reportedly at 53 percent compared to 37 percent for young females — that's a 16 percent difference!
Over the years, the workforce as a whole has become more educated.
However, jobs created are mainly focused in the low to mid-skilled jobs. Other sectors like domestic industries would rather attempt to stay cost-efficient and depend on cheap labor, including hiring foreign workers.
The report predicted that jobs in the service sector will be the main driver in creating more job opportunities in the future, while agriculture and manufacturing employment continue to decline.
Besides that, another reason for the high youth unemployment is also because many find it difficult to secure jobs right after graduating.
These young people are basically competing with mature adults who have more exposure and work experience, while everyone is facing the exact same economic situation.
This is especially true when there is more supply than demand in labor, where more people are competing for a limited number of jobs.
In a way, employers would no doubt turn to adults with a longer history of work experience.
Young people also often lack in terms of job search experience. For example, many youth rely on finding work through family or friends, or by word-of-mouth. Otherwise, they would not know where or how to look for jobs.
On the other hand, adults have the advantage of references from previous employers or colleagues, as well as work connections.
In Malaysia, the employment rate reportedly shows that 52 percent of those employed are mid-skilled, while 28 percent are low-skilled.
Dass stressed the importance of addressing the failure of the basic education system. There is a mismatch between the skills required for jobs and the level of skills our youth have when they leave school.
So, there is an urgent need for educational reforms.
Tertiary education in Malaysia should not only focus on academic, but also on industrial training, communication skills and developing self-esteem.
"It is important to look at the levels of the education system across the board and institute changes across all levels of the education system so that we can place the right person in the right job," Dass wrote.
Malaysia need to start thinking about the traditional education system in the country, and how its universities and apprenticeships should enhance the skills of youth for jobs.