TO be young is such a wonderful thing, but not when you are jobless. Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) provides a snapshot of why our young ones are not so happy being young. Of the estimated 500,000 unemployed in 2018, close to 294,000 (56 per cent) were from the 15 to 24 age group.
The previous year, 283,000 of them were unemployed. Last year, the International Labour Organisation data point to an increase, with youth unemployment registering 11.6 per cent. In 2018, it was 10.9 per cent.
Would it get worse before it gets better? It depends on what we do and don’t do. Granted youth unemployment is a global problem — 13.1 per cent of the world’s young are jobless. This doesn’t mean we should measure ourselves against it and feel complacent.
But first why this growing youth unemployment? There are at least two reasons. One, there seems to be a mismatch between what the youth come armed with and what the employers want. This has been an old lament of employers, at least the Malaysian kind. If KRI is right — as uncovered by its “2018 School-to-Work Transition of Young Malaysians” report — the mismatch is a subtle one.
It is not the lack of professional qualifications that is being lamented, but the lack of soft skills.
Happily, this can be taught and learned. For this to happen, the world of education and employment must get closer.
Shouting from different premises never works. Employers, too, need to train fresh graduates instead of rejecting them for having no work experience. Fresh graduates will never have work experience if employers keep rejecting them.
Lamenting without doing something will harm employers, youth and, in the end,the nation in terms
of gross domestic product squandered. Being three times a loser isn’t wise.
BCG, one of the big four management consultants, may just have an answer. It worked for Germany’s disadvantaged youth. It may very well work for our youth. Joblinge, as it is called, is a collaboration between the private, public and volunteer sectors. Partner companies come in various sizes, and they offer a vast array of vocational opportunities.
Joblinge’s goal: fast but sustainable job placements. Here is how it works. After assessment, the youth are put through six months of practice, probation and follow-up that arms them with what is needed to land a job. And the resultis telling. More than 65 per cent of Joblinge trainees land a job, with 80 per cent staying at their jobs for at least six months.
And it doesn’t end when the youth land a job. Joblinge continues to coach its “graduates” for up to three years to ensure sustainable employment. What this tells us is this: with focused attention and
training, youth can bloom.
Two, the private and public sectors need to get cosier. The government has set aside RM6.5 billion under the 2020 Budget to create 350,000 jobs as part of the [email protected] programme. Under this umbrella programme, graduates, women and apprentices will be incentivised. So will employers.
Employers, too, need to do their bit. As Peter Cappelli of Wharton business school put it to The Economist, companies think filling a job is like buying a spare part: they expect it to fit.
Employee-job fit won’t happen without training. This the employers must provide.