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mismatch behind many unemployed grads: IDS
Published on: Friday, September 14, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A mismatch between demand and supply of youths with university degrees is believed to be behind the high percentage of jobless graduates nationwide, including Sabah.

Figures have shown that graduate unemployment in 2017 was approximately 204,000, representing about 40 per cent of total unemployment in the country.

At 13.5 percent, Sabah is the highest among all states in overall youth unemployment.

Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (pic), said obviously something has not been going right in the way the country is addressing the issue.

"Either the country is producing the wrong skills which it does not need or it is unable to create enough jobs. I have a gut feeling that there is a skills mismatch," he told participants of a seminar titled "Youth Unemployment: Entrepreneurship as Valuable Alternative Source of Job Creation & Economic Dynamism for Youth in Sabah."

The seminar was organised by the IDS in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Sipaun noted that because the issue has been haunting the country for so long, a graduate is synonymous with being unemployed these days.

"I know of a young man who has a Bachelor's degree from a reputable Australian university and a PhD from a Malaysian university. I once asked him what he was doing. He replied, "my full time job is looking for a job"," he said.

He urged the State Education and Innovation Ministry to look into the mismatch problem, saying that unemployed youths represent a waste of human resources.

It could also lead to very serious social problems, he added.

Sipaun acknowledged part of the problem is caused by degree holders being picky about jobs, especially blue collared ones. On the other hand, he blamed it on bad government decisions, some of which he said did not make any common business sense which led to a loss of opportunity for the state.

"I cannot find any acceptable reason why Sabah should be poor bearing in mind that it is rich in natural resources. "I understand that the biggest oil and gas deposit is located in Sabah. What I fail to understand is that gas is located in Sabah yet it is transported 512km away to be processed via gas pipeline costing billions of ringgit.

"Conventional economic and business wisdom tells me that raw materials should be processed as near as possible to their source. Can you imagine the number of jobs would have been created if the gas processing plant was located in Kimanis? It represented a lost opportunity for Sabah," Sipaun argued.

On this note, he called on the new federal government to fairly meet the legitimate demands of the state so that it could build a stronger economy that is the basis for the creation of more job opportunities.

Six papers were presented during the one-day seminar which objectives, among others, were to increase public awareness especially youth on the vital role of entrepreneurship as job creation and providing opportunities to young people. It also helped provide a platform for youth to be heard of what they need to succeed. - Leonard Alaza


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