This could be due to underutilisation of labour caused by time and skills mismatch with the labour market, all of which was exacerbated by the pandemic situation.
The number of graduates in Malaysia in 2020 increased by 4.4% to 5.36mn persons, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), up from 5.13mn in 2019.
Further, in the same period, the number of employed graduates was at 4.35mn persons – an increase of 5.6% from 4.12mn persons in 2019.
That said, DOSM shared that graduates’ unemployment rate spiked 4.4% to 202,400 persons. In 2019, it was at 3.9% - which in numbers is 165,200 persons.
Read on to find the respective breakdowns.
In DOSM’s report, 3mn graduates (68.8%) were in “skilled category”. Based on the 2020 statistics, there were:
- 40.8% of them working in professional occupations (1.78mn persons);
- 17.2% of them working in technicians and associate professional occupations (749,500 persons).
“Graduates who worked in semi-skilled and low-skilled occupation categories comprised 31.2%,” DOSM highlighted. “This group of graduates could be classified as mismatch in occupation as they did not fully utilise their education and skills.”
Breaking down the numbers of employed graduates in semi-skilled category (28.9% or 1.26mn persons), DOSM shared that:
- Most graduates were largely service and sales workers (11.9%);
- Other graduates were clerical support workers (9.6%), and craft and related trades workers (3.4%).
The remaining 2.3% were employed in the low-skilled category - which is approximately 98,100 persons.
In 2020, there were 158,400 graduates in active unemployment. Out of this total, graduates who were unemployed for less than three months recorded the highest share at 71,400 persons (45.1%).
As for the remaining numbers, the breakdown is as follows:
- 47,600 persons (30.1%) were unemployed for three to five months;
- 23,500 persons (14.8%) were unemployed for six to twelve months, and
- 16,000 persons (10.1%) were faced with long-term unemployment, or unemployed for more than a year.
Time and skills related underemployment
Further to unemployment statistics above, DOSM shared those graduates were, in fact, underemployed due to time and skills mismatch in the labour market, which the department categorised as “underutilised labour”.
As such, graduates who were in time-related underemployment category - those who had their work hours affected due to Malaysia’s MCO regulations - stood at 83,800 persons (1.9%). This is an increase from 35,600 persons (0.9%) in 2019.
With regard to skills-related underemployment - which represents graduates who worked in semi-skilled and low-skilled category – there were 1.36mn such persons (31.2%) in 2020. In 2019, this number was at 1.10mn persons (26.7%).
In The Star’s report, Chief Statistician Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said that this overall situation is caused by “the unfavourable economic environment last year.”
Image / DOSM