KUALA LUMPUR (July 27): Malaysia saw its number of unemployed graduates rise 22.5% last year to 202,400 from 165,200 in 2019, the latest report from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed.
DOSM chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin attributed the higher number to the unfavourable economic environment in 2020 and its consequences for the overall labour market situation.
“There were 5.36 million graduates in 2020 (up 4.5% from 5.13 million graduates in 2019). The increase in the number of graduates over the years was concomitant with awareness of the importance of higher education to improve livelihoods. Upon completion of tertiary education, graduates usually aim to secure jobs equivalent to their qualification and subsequently earn higher wages and all the perks that come with it.
"However, the challenging labour market condition as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in fewer job openings and increased competition," he said in a statement today.
According to the DOSM's Graduates Statistics 2020, the rise was observed for both degree (+22,400) and diploma holders (+14,800), largely among graduates aged 35 and over.
Hence, graduates' unemployment rate in 2020 increased by 0.5 percentage point (ppt) to 4.4% against 3.9% in the preceding year. In addition, more than 75% of unemployed graduates were actively seeking work, whereby almost half were unemployed for less than three months.
The report defined graduates as individuals with the highest certificate obtained from universities, colleges, polytechnics, recognised bodies or equivalent, with the study duration of at least two years.
Meanwhile, Mohd Uzir said among 4.35 million employed graduates last year, more than two-thirds (68.8%) were in the skilled occupation category. However, this number was down 0.8% from 2019.
"The decrease was seen in the occupation categories of professional, as well as technician and associate professional."
In contrast, the semi-skilled category gained 19.3% of employed graduates, particularly in the occupation categories of service and sales workers, and plant and machine operators and assemblers. Thus, the composition of employed graduates in the semi-skilled category increased to 28.9% versus 25.6% in the previous year.
In the meantime, 2.3% of employed graduates were in the low-skilled occupation category.
From the perspective of the economic sector, more than 75% or 3.37 million graduates were employed in the services sector, followed by 14.6% in the manufacturing sector last year.