Tag Archives: Khazanah Research Institute (KRI)

Understanding our youths

Report finds there’s a need to focus on soft skills and the ability of students to learn new skills

TODAY’S youths represent the country’s best educated generation, yet they face many challenges transitioning from school-to-work.

Launched on Wednesday, the Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) “school-to-work transition survey” (SWTS) found that education and training institutions aren’t producing graduates employers want.

Bosses prefer soft skills and work experience above academic or professional qualifications that are emphasised by schools and varsities. And, the supply of young workers with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) qualifications, is far short of employer demands.

There’s a need to focus on soft skills and the ability of students to learn new skills, she said.

“There must be more work-based learning,” she said, adding that to promote STEM, policy makers could make these subjects more attractive and widely available to students from a young age; equip and train teachers well; and integrate STEM with Arts subjects (STEAM) to enhance student understanding and application of the sciences.

From the end of 2017 to early this year, education and labour market information on Malaysians aged between 15 and 29 was collected from some 24,000 students, job seekers, workers, and employers.

Here’s an excerpt of the SWTS report on youths in upper secondary and tertiary education.

STEM isn’t popular

TVET is not a popular education pathway, and neither is STEM. Only a third of all upper secondary students are taking science subjects and another 44% additional mathematics, and only 32% of all tertiary students are enrolled for STEM courses. Although girls greatly outnumbered boys in tertiary education, a higher proportion of total males than total females are registered for STEM subjects. The proportion of students taking STEM subjects is the highest for international and private schools. Surprisingly, the proportion of students in religious schools enrolled in science subjects and additional maths is higher than students of other national schools. Two-fifths of tertiary students are working towards degrees in social sciences, business, or law.

Students choose their own courses

Contrary to common perception that courses students take up is decided upon by their parents or school, some 80% say they make their own choices. But almost all receive advice on the education or training they need to get a ‘good job’.

Aspirations and job expectations

Girls are more driven than boys. They give greater importance to a clear career path, with good promotion prospects and success at work. Boys value good family life more. The main sector students prefer is education. The girls, especially, prefer professional occupations like teachers, engineers, and medical and health professionals. Few want to do the work of their parents, namely, in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing. It’s more important to the boys to have interesting jobs and high income. They’re less concerned about job security.

All students prioritise professional qualifications. Upper secondary students are aware of the importance of TVET but would rather pursue academic education. They also identify communication skills as the most important competency for getting a job. They expect greater opportunities because of the Internet of Things (IoT). The majority want to further their education or training, with girls being more academically inclined.

Youth in tertiary education

There are 15% more girls than boys in upper secondary education. The gender imbalance increases in the transition from upper secondary to tertiary level. The growing cohort of boys who either leave school early or with low education attainment, is worrying. Almost half of all students are in private tertiary institutions. Their main funding sources are loans and their parents.

There’s a clear generational improvement in educational levels. Their preferred employment sectors are education, finance and insurance, health and social work, and IT-related work. Job preferences shift between upper secondary and tertiary level of education. Tertiary students aren’t as keen on public sector work and have a higher preference of starting their own business compared to upper secondary youth. The most likely reason is that young men and women tend to have clearer choices linked to their field of study in higher education and would be more aware of labour market opportunities.

Work-life balance is the most important characteristic of a job they would want. The job must be interesting, not just secure. And to get a good job, they do not consider tertiary academic qualifications adequate. They rate communication skills and creative and

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2018/12/16

Survey: Multinationals offer the lowest starting wage, public sector and listed companies the most

Khazanah staff, Hazwanie Abdullah, poses with Khazanah's 'School to Work Transition Survey Report' in Kuala Lumpur December 12, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Khazanah staff, Hazwanie Abdullah, poses with Khazanah’s ‘School to Work Transition Survey Report’ in Kuala Lumpur December 12, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Malaysia-based multinational companies offer the lowest starting salaries, a far cry from that offered by the civil service, a survey conducted by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) found.

Salary data compiled for the School To Work Transition Survey (SWTS) showed that the maximum median income offered by multinationals to a postgraduate is RM1,250, a meagre sum when put next to popular views about the kind of pay expected from foreign companies.

The quantum is similar to that offered to undergraduates or those with, a qualification considered to be inferior to university degrees, KRI said.

That is over RM4,000 less than the starting pay offered by the civil service or government agencies and RM600 less by public-listed companies.

The SWTS also found that even the starting salary offered by small family-run enterprises was higher, at RM450 more.

This may partially explain why civil service jobs are the main choice for employment for most young job seekers, KRI said in its report that aims to give policymakers, employers and job seekers a better picture of the labour market.

“Public sector agencies offer the highest salaries for each educational level — this would partly explain why it is the preferred employment sector for young people,” the report said.

The finding, which KRI described as “unexpected”, underscores the deeper structural problem beleaguering the job market today.

Supply of graduates now far exceeds demand and employers continue their preference for cheap labour as skills and requirements are mostly mismatched thanks to an education policy that over-emphasises paper qualifications.

This problem is best captured in the large salary gap offered to fresh job seekers with different sets of skills within the civil service itself, namely in the low pay offered to applicants with TVET qualifications, skills heavily promoted as useful even by the government.

The SWTS showed that TVET graduates are paid RM3,000 less than those with a degree and just RM500 more than for school leavers, who tend to take up most of the low-skilled manual jobs.

Malaysia-based multinational companies offer the lowest starting salaries, a far cry from that offered by the civil service. — Reuters pic
Malaysia-based multinational companies offer the lowest starting salaries, a far cry from that offered by the civil service. — Reuters pic

Despite publicity promoting vocational training as a gateway to good jobs, TVET qualification is still seen as inferior and better-suited for low-paying jobs.

KRI noted parents or students continue to shun vocational training, only to learn later that most employers value TVET skills today. Only 13 per cent of all upper secondary students are pursuing technical or vocational courses at the secondary level, and just 9 per cent at polytechnics.

“It has often been noted that students and their parents regard TVET as an inferior educational pathway, ‘dead end’ and for the academically challenged,” the report said.

“But, in fact, the SWTS found that both young job seekers and young workers consider TVET as the most useful qualification for getting a good job the salary differential could be an important reason.”

Demand for TVET graduates is proportionally high in the private sector among sole proprietors, private limited companies and particularly private contractors, the SWTS showed.

Even for low-skilled or manual jobs, public listed companies and the civil service indicated a preference for TVET graduates.

Yet only government agencies have offered TVET graduates the highest starting pay, at a median maximum of RM4,052 followed by private contractors at RM1,700.

The difference in salaries offered in other enterprises categorised in the report — private limited companies, family business, sole proprietorship, public listed and multinational companies — are more or less around the RM200 median average.

All this points to a disconnect and skewed labour market that is overcrowded with job seekers who mostly have skills that are low in demand, resulting in high graduate unemployment, KRI said.

“The shortage is not in terms of numbers but mismatch is evident employers rate soft skills and work experience above the academic and professional qualifications that are emphasised by Malaysian education and training institutions,” the report noted.

The SWTS, conducted at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, was intended to collect education and labour market information on youth, defined as ages between 15 to 29.

The survey was based on five structured, mainly pre-coded questionnaires targeting youth in upper secondary schools, in tertiary education, young job seekers, young workers and employers.

Source: www.malaymail.com