Wednesday, December 7

Tackling the problem of unemployed graduates

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There are around 15,000 to 20,000 unemployed graduates in Sarawak, according to figures from Statistics Department and Jobs Malaysia.

However, that estimate is far below the real number of graduates unable to find jobs as these figures probably refer only to those who are registered with the two bodies.

A better gauge of the situation was provided by Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) which recently said there were between 40,000 and 50,000 graduates applying for jobs in the government services.

Against that figure the State Secretary recently announced that there are 100 vacancies available in the state’s government service – hardly any comfort for the graduates queuing up for a job in the government service.

The situation was exacerbated by the Ministry of Finance’s decision to freeze new jobs to optimise the government’s administrative expenditure.

It was disappointing that Cuepacs is against this move as it seems only concerned about providing jobs for graduates through the public sector without taking into consideration the mounting administrative cost which is straining the coffers of the government.

In fact the nation’s civil service is already very bloated making new intake of employees unfeasible.

It is also disturbing that so many graduates are turning to the government for employment instead of going into the private sector.

Perhaps these graduates were attracted by the notion that government jobs are more secure than those in private sector or are there limited openings for fresh graduates in the private sector?

Sadly the underlying reason for so many unemployed graduates is the fact that many of them do not have the right qualification for the jobs available in the market.

This leads to the issue of poor management and planning of education in our nation.

Institutes of higher learning are not equipping their students with the right skills and qualification to meet the needs of the industry.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem hit the nail on the head when he chided the Ministry of Education for poor planning and lack of foresight in formulating the nation’s education policy.

Our universities and colleges are churning out unemployable graduates because the courses they offer do not equip them with the skills needed by industry.

The state government must be lauded for not dallying in the blame game but moved positively to alleviate the situation by launching the Graduate Enhancement Training Sarawak (GETS) programme last Tuesday.

This collaboration with the private sector, in which the government will pay from RM800 to RM10,000 for the internship for unemployed graduates in private companies, although an excellent idea will at best, alleviate the problem of unemployed graduates in the country.

The problem will not be solved unless something is done to rectify the source of the problem – the courses offered by our universities and colleges.

This is a gargantuan task requiring a political will to drastically change  our education policy.

It is extremely difficult but it must be done – the sooner the better.