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Combating Youth Unemployment

Youth unemployment is a global issue and it has far reaching impacts to future generations and in the fight to eliminate poverty. Malaysia defines youth unemployment as two different categories. The first being anyone between the age of 15 – 24 years old that is currently without work and seeking employment, and the second is anyone between 15 – 30 years of age currently without work1. Teenage job seekers were more likely to be unemployed than young adults. They are five times more likely to be without a job compared to the overall population2.

This age demographic makes up 18% of Malaysia’s labour force3 and 17.8% of Malaysia’s population. Geographically, whilst the state of Sabah is struggling behind with 14% of its youths without work, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are not far behind with 11% and 10% respectively3. There are a variety of unemployment factors that bring concern to the youths in the Klang Valley.

Key Issues Affecting Refugees In Klang Valley

Low Paying Jobs And The High Cost Of Living In The City

Bank Negara Malaysia stated in 2016, a single adult living in Kuala Lumpur would need to make roughly RM2,700 a month. Factoring in daily expenses of a person living in the capital city, an estimated RM2,700 a month was adequate to cover basic expenses such as food, shelter, utilities, education loans, transportation, clothing, and contributions to their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). The calculation did not account for any money aside for savings⁴.

  1. However, Belanjawanku, the expenditure guide released by EPF in 2019 stated that with only RM1,870 per month, an individual can get by comfortably5. The decrease in budgeting reflects poorly on the constant rise of consumer prices and standard of living6
  2. When referencing salaries the Department of Statistics Malaysia states that fresh diploma graduates were making as little as RM1,001 to RM1,500 per month as their starting salaries. This is boarderlining on the nation’s minimum wage is RM1,200 per month (RM5.77 per hour)7. Degree holders earned an average of RM2,378 per month in 20198. This average was only a 2.5% increase from the previous year.

Mismatch Of Employer's Demands & Perceptions

In 2015, a Jobstreet survey disclosed 68% of employers believed that youths ask for unrealistic salaries and working conditions⁹. Many referenced a previous survey which stated 60% of fresh graduates expected a starting salary of RM3,500 and 30% wanted to be paid as high as RM6,500 per month⁹.

  1. Both the Jobstreet and the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) salary survey stated other factors contributing to the unemployment of youths include; poor command of English, poor communication skills, poor character, lack of soft skills, and lack of hands-on experience9 10. World Bank and Talent Corporation identified 90% of employers surveyed thought jobseekers needed more industrial training; 81% lacked communication skills and 80% believed that university curricula are not reflective of the current realities2
  2. Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) in 2018 stated that ‘soft skills’ and ‘work experience’ were ranked highest amongst skills most valued by employers11. 88% of employers believed that internships and volunteering programmes made the graduates more employable as it taught them many of these needed skills.

Youths Forced To Over Qualify For Income

Diploma and degree holders are more likely to be unemployed than those with lower qualifications². Whilst there are opportunities in the skilled sector, semi-skilled careers dominate the labour force and low skilled positions have the highest number of vacancies². With the imbalance in supply and demand in certain industries, fresh graduates have had to take up lower-skilled jobs or look for jobs outside their field of expertise and study in order to generate income.

  1. 1.04 million graduates employed in jobs that require an SPM level qualification in 201912. KRI also identified most of the youth are “over-educated”, with many taking on unskilled or low-skilled jobs when they are more than qualified to do much better, often outside of their field of expertise11. Working in low skilled careers also makes youths vulnerable to lack of social protection. Only 33% of employed urban youths have the full suite of social protection, 27% were registered only in one scheme, but the remaining 40% are unprotected11.


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Providing Hopes For The Refugees

Understanding Urban Poverty

Free From Child Poverty

Combating Youth Unemployment

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