Fresh graduates are not likely to see better job prospects in the near future even as the Covid-19 threat is gradually brought under control in Malaysia, economists said.
They told The Malaysian Insight it was an old problem of a surplus of graduates meeting slow wage growth and lack of career opportunities that had began well before the pandemic last year.
“Even when herd immunity from the vaccination programme is reached and the labour market recovers, the salaries for fresh graduates are unlikely to improve due to long-term structural issues,” said Benedict Weerasena, an economist at independent research institute Bait Al Amanah.
“These include the lack of high-skilled job creation amid an excess in supply of graduates. As such, fresh graduates have no choice but to take the available jobs in the market, putting downward pressure on wages and creating a major underemployment problem.”
Weerasena said the latest labour market review by the Statistics Department highlighted the persistent issue of job mismatch and skills-related underemployment among graduates.
“More graduates in the country are taking up jobs that do not match their qualification or their field of study as the shortage of skilled jobs is further worsened by the Covid-19 health crisis,” the report stated.
Meanwhile, Weerasena said Malaysia had remained heavily dependent on low-skilled foreign workers.
“It puts the nation in a low-wage, labour-intensive and low-productivity investment trap which then suppresses the growth of overall wages in the long term.”
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