KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 ― Reforms of current economic policies are needed to address the issues of low wages and lack of opportunities for young workers and fresh graduates, Khazanah Research Institute said today.
The research house said the findings of its school to work survey (SWTS) gave an overall picture of a labour market deeply saddled with structural weaknesses.
“The government must rethink its cheap labour policy,” Lim Lin Lean, the lead author of the SWTS and a senior fellow at KRI.
The data collected from the SWTS, conducted late 2017 to early this year, provided crucial insights into the state of the labour market today, which is dogged by high youth underemployment and stagnating wages.
Lim said the data, compiled and summarised in more than 300 pages worth of report, may explain why Malaysia remains trapped in a medium-technology and labour-intensive economy.
Among key findings of the SWTS was the significant number of those reporting to receive low pay and working in low-skilled jobs despite having college or even advanced degrees.
Up 85 per cent of young workers with degrees or tertiary qualification polled said they work in low-skilled jobs, while another 50 per cent in occupations with slightly higher skills prerequisite.
“They are forced to dumb down,” Lim said when presenting the survey at Menara UEM at KL Sentral here.
The SWTS polled up to 27,000 job seekers, students, young workers and employers.
Lim said the survey should give policymakers the foundation to formulate the right policies, which until now remain mostly conservative and unable to push Malaysia out of a semi-skilled middle income economy.
Khazanah Nasional executive director and investments head Datuk Hisham Hamdan, who was also present at the report launch, said the country needs bold policies to turn into a blue chip economy.
“We need to ask ourselves why not become like North Asia,” he said.
“Instead of competing against commodity-based economies why not compete against Singapore or Korea for example.”