TODAY’s youth represent the nation’s best educated generation, yet they face a number of difficulties making the transition from school to work. In 2017, 56.4 per cent of youth aged between 15 and 24 years old were unemployed.
The recent survey, School-To-Work Transition of Young Malaysians, by Khazanah Research Institute revealed that the existence of a mismatch of job search and recruitment methods as one of the reasons for unemployment.
The survey found that while employers use online advertisements and informal networks of relatives and friends to recruit workers, young people search for jobs via public employment services such as JobsMalaysia, career fairs and open interviews.
Although informal recruitment channels have cost-saving advantages, they also penalise poor, disadvantaged job seekers who have limited social network and restrict the selection pool of employers.
Fixing a mismatch
Ahmad Arieff Ahmad Azriff, 23, is open to any medium of job search which leads to an application for a position and an interview.
“While I submitted applications online and at career fairs, it was at the latter where I secured an interview and was shortlisted,” said Ahmad Arieff,aSkim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M) trainee at one of the financial institutions in the country.
He prefers online job applications to career fairs. “You can submit applications to various companies in one sitting which saves money and time,” he added.
The survey suggested that young job seekers use employment services such as JobsMalaysia and recruitment agencies in addition to visiting career fairs.
Personal financial adviser Sarah Nadhirah Hasrin Rathim, 23, prefers to apply for jobs online.
She said most employers advertise vacancies at Jobstreet.com and/or the companies’ websites. An online posting is a quick and easy way to reach the most number of applicants in a short time.
“On the other hand, at LinkedIn, one can put up one’s profile and resume,” added Sarah Nadhirah.
“Employers who look for candidates through word of mouth may not cast a wide enough net to reach out to as many talents as possible.
“I was lucky enough to be selected foraSL1M programme at one of the financial institutions and secured not one but two interview opportunities along the way. I was shortlisted and here I am as a permanent staff a month later.”
Job seekers should be bold and put in more effort when looking for employment.
“Many have paper qualifications and excel in studies but need to stand out from the rest. That’s the key to getting employers’ attention.
“Employers look for creativity too, not just straight As. Youths are the leaders of the future and they must stay relevant.”
Boston Consulting Group consultant Omar Akbar Khan, 24, said finding the right fit in the workplace is crucial to sustain motivation and ensure productivity.
Fresh graduates should cast off self-imposed limitations and consider working abroad in light of increasing connectivity.
“I prefer online job advertisements, professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn and direct engagement with a company at recruiting and networking events.
“Online advertisements are detailed in job scope and the Internet offers quick comparisons and a broad survey of job opportunities,” added Omar.
He believes it is best to raise one’s profile by actively engaging with employers at company websites as well as keeping an updated profile on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
The Taylor’s University graduate also secured interviews with help from the institution’s career services team.
Esther Tan Jen Chze, 25, said that young job seekers are inclined to go online to look for vacancies.
“When I was actively looking for employment, I relied entirely on job sourcing sites. This online method provides detailed information about a company and job specifications, allowing room for comparison.
“Job fairs have never piqued my interest as I studied interior architecture. I secured my position through a friend, which proves the importance of a strong network. Nothing is stronger than a recommendation from a trusted source,” added Tan, who worked at Walter Knoll Ag & Co Kg for a year.
Mohd Hafiz Muslim, a resourcing specialist at a multinational company, said that while employers make use of technology to raise visibility among job seekers by posting vacancies at job portals, they also have booths at career fairs and employ the services of job agencies.
Depending on the vacancy, employers also use their own network for recruitment.
“This is more effective in term of cost and hiring time frame. Above all, employers have many hiring options to recruit the right talent.
“Job seekers can’t rely on one method when applying for a position.
“They also need to prepare a curriculum vitae specific to the position and look into the job qualification before submitting their profile.”
His firm uses its Employer Branding and Employer Value Proposition to recruit the best talent and puts the employee first so that they can become brand ambassadors.
“We use social media to attract potential talent and become an Employer of Choice among graduates.”
Management consultant Rizleen Mustafa at a global professional services firm said that word of mouth and disseminating “any form of information” to a network can result in a right hire.
“There is no harm in exchanging information within the fraternity for the benefit of the organisation.
“Employers are always in need of talent who can make a difference.”
Rizleen, who has 15 years of experience in human resource and recruitment, added that job seekers can self-market on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram as well as get to know potential employers better at career fairs and open interviews.
“They need to be well-dressed, confident and communicate well in the 15 minutes or so that they have with potential employers.”
Sofea Iman Ahmad Sofian, strategic planning and risk management head at an oil and gas company, said candidates are encouraged to apply for jobs at its website.
“However, there are cases where we forward their CVs to human resources for their further action.
“This applies when we urgently need to fill a position and have found a potentially suitable candidate.
“We also look for candidates at LinkedIn and use external recruiters if we want specific skills.”
She recommends going over one’s curriculum vitae and cover letter with a career counsellor to get feedback.
“Career counsellors not only review resumes but also highlight networking opportunities and assist in job searches.”
Khazanah Research Institute’s School-To-Work Transition of Young Malaysians report highlights challenges, mismatches and popular misperceptions regarding Malaysian youth in the labour market.
Conducted for the first time in the country, the report supplements official national estimates of employment by providing information on determinants of labour market advantage or disadvantage; aspirations and behavioural choices of youth; quality of school-to-work transition; and youth labour demand from the perspective of employers.
It focuses on different groups of youth (in school, tertiary, job seekers and workers) and employers.
It found that youth are not equipped with the skills required by employers, youth are not choosy about their jobs and their current jobs are not related to their level or field of education.
Employers have critical roles to play to get the right young workers they need.
Large enterprises, the public sector and public-listed companies must make budget allocations for training newly recruited young employees.
Participation in employability training programmes is low. Only three per cent of employers participated in SL1M and two per cent participated in the Graduate Employability Management programme.
But employers did better in offering structured internship programmes or attachments to students as at least a quarter of them provided work-based training and work experience for young people.
The report also highlights changing patterns of youth employment as more young people are going into temporary, part-time, casual and zero-contract work.
Khazanah Research Institute visiting senior fellow Dr Lim Lin Lean, who is lead author of the report, said: “It is important to learn from young men and women themselves what they want out of life and work, how the education and training systems are equipping them for employability and how they fare in their job search and working conditions because the human resources of the young determine the nation’s advancement into high-income status.”
The report provides policy implications and options arising from these findings that can be used to stimulate discussion and identification of appropriate measures to enhance the employability of youth and the more effective functioning of the labour market.
The survey recommends that in order to address mismatch between job search and recruitment methods, there is a need to enhance the role of employment services, both public and private, by supporting them to use digital technology and other channels to more effectively link job seekers and employers.
Employment services especially in rural areas and East Malaysia should be made available where they are most needed.
In addressing this mismatch between job search and recruitment methods, both public and private entities can enhance the role of employment services, ensure that they are available (particularly in rural areas), strengthen the outreach of employment services and make greater use of digital technology to facilitate job search and job matching processes.
Employers’ organisations and chambers of commerce can make a case to their members as to why youth employability is important and what they can do to promote it.
They should also strengthen interactions between employers and education and training institutions through arrangements for work-based training to complement classroom learning.
In addition, educate employers and youth about one another to address current misperceptions. Measures include participation in school career days and job fairs, and providing web-based information.
And lastly, encourage and support youth entrepreneurship, including mentoring programmes and sponsoring innovation efforts.