Unemployed graduates increased by 22.5 per cent to 202,400 in 2020

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR) – The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to graduates seeking for jobs last year as the number of them being unemployed increased by 22.5 per cent or 37,200 to 202,400, the Statistics Department said.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said yesterday the number increased from 165,200 in 2019 due to the unfavourable economic environment last year.

In the Graduates Statistics 2020, the report describes the overall graduates labour supply in 2020 by demographic and socioeconomics characteristics. The grauduates are defined as individuals with the highest certificate obtained from universities, colleges, polytechnics, recognised bodies or equivalent, with the study duration of at least two years.

“The rise was observed for both degree (+22,400 persons) and diploma holders (+14,800) largely among graduates aged 35 years and over.

“Hence, the graduate’s unemployment rate for 2020 went up by 0.5 percentage points to 4.4 per cent as against 3.9 per cent in the preceding year.

“More than 75 per cent of unemployed graduates were actively seeking work whereby almost half were unemployed for less than three months,” he said.

As for employed graduates, Mohd Uzir said among 4.35 million of them last year, more than two-thirds (68.8 per cent) were in the skilled occupation category but the number declined by 0.8 per cent from 2019.

The decrease was seen in the professional as well as technicians and associate professional.

As for the semi-skilled category, there was 19.3 per cent increase of employed graduates, particularly in the occupation categories of service and sales workers; and plant and machine operators and assemblers.

Mohd Uzir said the composition of employed graduates in the semi-skilled category increased to 28.9 per cent compared with 25.6 per cent the previous year.

He also noted 2.3 per cent of employed graduates were in the low-skilled occupation category.

The rate of skill-related underemployment among graduates rose to 31.2 per cent to 1.36 million persons as compared to 26.7 per cent in 2019 at 1.10 million persons).

The situation was more pronounced among diploma graduates at 46.1 per cent and for degree graduates 19.2 per cent of skill-related underemployment rate.

He said this was reflected in the lower number of total job vacancies in the economic sector last year where the number of skilled job vacancies declined 16.1 per cent, semi-skilled 9.5 per cent and low-skilled jobs 9.7 per cent.

“Skill-related underemployment which has been a structural labour market issue with the rates hovering between 22 per cent and 26 per cent since the series began in 2016,had escalated as the pandemic struck last year,” he said.

He said skill-related underemployment was also seen in advanced economies like the United States and United Kingdom with the underemployment rate of graduates for the past five years ranged between 33 per cent and 35 per cent.

From the perspective of economic sector, more than 75 per cent (3.37 million persons) of graduates were employed in the services sector followed by 14.6 per cent in the manufacturing sector.

Notably, the manufacturing sector recorded an increase of 114,900 graduates to record 637,500 persons. Employed graduates in the services sector rose by 84,300 mainly in the food and beverages services; and wholesale and retail trade activity.