KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — The number of unemployed graduates dropped to 4.1 per cent in 2021 while 33.9 per cent of graduates were in skills-related underemployment, according to data released by the Statistics Department (DOSM) today.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin, citing the Graduates Statistics 2021, said the number of graduates in Malaysia was 5.61 million last year, comprising 22.1 per cent of its population in the working age of 15 years and above.

“In 2021, Malaysia’s economy had gradually regained momentum towards recovery and subsequently, fostered a healthier labour market situation during the year compared to 2020. In line with this, the number of employed graduates went up by 5.0 per cent to register 4.57 million (2020: 4.35 million persons).

“Around two-thirds (64.8 per cent) were employed in the skilled occupations category. However, the number declined by 1.2 per cent following reduction in the managers category while the other two skilled occupations, namely professional and technician and associate professional, saw increases in the number of employed graduates,” he said in a statement today.

Graduates are defined as individuals with the highest certificate obtained from the universities, colleges, polytechnics and recognised bodies or equivalent, with the study duration of at least two years.

Mohd Uzir said that 32.9 per cent of graduates worked in semi-skilled occupations largely as clerical support workers (14.4 per cent), followed by service and sales workers (10.8 per cent), craft and related trades workers (4.2 per cent) while 2.3 per cent were employed in the low-skilled category.

He said the country reached the second year of navigating the public health crisis which entailed implementation of multiple social and economic restrictions, while the structural labour market challenges remained as indicated by the continuous increase of underemployment.

He noted that the number of graduates in skills-related underemployment rose by 14.4 per cent in 2021 as they took up jobs that did not match their qualifications and the rate of skills-related underemployment among graduates surged by 2.7 percentage points to 33.9 per cent after registering a significant rise of 4.4 percentage points in 2020 to record 31.2 per cent.

From the perspective of the economic sector, he said 77.4 per cent of graduates were employed in the services sector, followed by 13.7 per cent in the manufacturing sector and 6 per cent in the construction sector.

“The number of unemployed graduates decreased by 2.5 per cent last year, after posting a double-digit surge of 22.5 per cent in 2020. The number was higher than the pre-pandemic in 2019 which was 165.2 thousand persons,” he said.

Mohd Uzir also said that higher salaries and wages were recorded for graduates in 2021 compared to the preceding year, whereby the mean monthly salaries and wages grew 2.1 per cent to RM4,582 (2020: RM4,489).

“By the skills category, salaries and wages received by graduates in all three categories had bounced back from the slip in 2020 but the levels were still below pre-pandemic,” he added. — Bernama