Survey: Our youths aren’t demanding, nor are they picky

KUALA LUMPUR: A survey has shown that Malaysian youths aren’t asking for much nor are they choosy about jobs.

Their priority is a work-life balance, and a secure and “interesting” job – not necessarily high wages.

They felt that foreign workers threatened their job opportunities.

Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) “school-to-work transition survey” (SWTS) also showed that our youths did not shun 3D (dirty, difficult, and dangerous) jobs – it’s just that the pay was too low compared to what they could earn doing the same job in Singapore.

The SWTS report was launched here yesterday by Khazanah National managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.

He said the report debunked anecdotal stories and misconceptions about our youths and would allow for better policy making.

KRI executive committee chairman Datuk Hisham Hamdan said the SWTS was done following questions over youth unemployment, low wages and the ageing nation.

“Malaysia will have an ageing population post-2020,” he said.

“If the youths today cannot get good jobs, how will they generate the GDP required to support an ageing society?”

The SWTS is a multi-component survey instrument developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It has been tested in over 30 countries but this is the first time the survey is conducted in Malaysia.

From the end of 2017 to early this year, education and labour market information on Malaysians aged between 15 and 29 was collected from some 24,000 students, job seekers, workers and employers.

Contrary to perception on high youth unemployment, the SWTS found that young people did not have unrealistic wage expectations.

Employers claimed that fresh graduates wanted too much – between RM2,400 and RM3,000 – but the survey showed that the actual monthly income sought was RM1,846 for young workers, and the reservation wage (the lowest wage rate at which a worker is willing to accept a particular type of job) was RM1,715.

SWTS lead author and KRI senior visiting fellow Dr Lim Lin Lean said the country should aim for fair, decent wage, that went beyond basic food, accommodation and clothing.

“Is minimum wage used to keep salaries down? To say that employers cannot afford to pay more is too much of a blanket excuse.

“We can’t become a high-income economy if we keep depending on cheap labour,” she said, adding that Malaysia could still be competitive by increasing productivity through the use of technology.

Employers rated soft skills and work experience above academic and professional qualifications but they did not do enough to enhance youth employability, the report said.

While there was no shortage of skilled workers, there was a skills mismatch between what employers wanted and what skilled workers had to offer.

The report stated that although youths lacked entrepreneurship skills, and realised that they lacked soft skills and work experience to land a good job, young part-time workers were prepared to accept earnings below their reservation wage so that they had jobs.

The survey also found a mismatch of job seekers and recruitment methods.

It stated that in school and tertiary institutions, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education was still lacking, and youths considered Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) most useful in landing a good job.

And despite females outnumbering and outperforming males at every level of education, they were at a disadvantage in the transition from school to work life.

Source: The STAR Online