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On Youth Employment : Increasing High-Skilled Job Opportunities with Fair Pay

On 8th May 2023, the National Career Development Centre Association Malaysia (NACDA) and KABEL held a youth employment dialogue, bringing together stakeholders to address the challenges faced by employers and young job seekers in Malaysia. The event aimed to promote high-skilled job opportunities for youth in the country.

The event was honoured by the presence of YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, who stressed the importance of digitalisation and moving towards high-skilled labour to transform Malaysia into a high-productivity, and high-income nation. He pointed out that the pay gap is a more significant issue than the skill gap, while he shared his own experience of working as a part-timer in a cafe in Subang Parade in 1991 with a wage of RM4.50 per hour, which has barely changed today after 32 years.

"We are stuck in a low-skilled, low-technology, low-pay, and low-productivity situation. We have a ticking time bomb," said the Minister, emphasising the need for stakeholders to think critically about the real situation and engage in open conversations to find collaborative solutions for the youth employment issue.

Representatives from SME Association of Malaysia (SMEAM), Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM), The National Tech Association of Malaysia (PIKOM), Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), and Cradle attended the event. Also present were representatives from career services team from various universities, and student representatives from student clubs and Higher Education Malaysia Association (HEYA).

The representative of PIKOM, Dato’ Dr. Munirah Looi, shared an encouraging statistic. "More than 90% of our members are currently hiring, with at least 85% of them offering permanent positions and an average of 10 to 50 new employees being hired into their organisations."

However, employers highlighted various challenges of hiring fresh graduates, including talent shortages in certain sectors, as well as a lack of technical skills, soft skills, and experience.

On the other hand, student representatives highlighted their concerns regarding the gap between expectations and reality in the job market, emphasising the lack of career awareness and industry exposure.

The representative from the student-led organisation HEYA, Alfred Ong, shared insights into what students believe can enhance their employability. He stated, "80% of students agree on the importance of developing soft skills, attitude, and mindset, while 78% agree on the need for relevant technical skills training upon tertiary education, such as micro-credentials or training programmes," in addition to better networking exposure and access to job information.

Stakeholders proposed several solutions to close the gap, including initiatives they have already undertaken. For instance, SMEAM conducts weekly workshops to educate employers on recruitment and branding for Gen Z, PIKOM offers internships to second-year students, and MBAM supports work-based learning, which has proven to be an effective way to hire graduates from their educational institutions.

Furthermore, educational institutions proposed implementing job-shadowing programs and promoting inter-university collaborations to facilitate career exploration and enable youth to develop industry-led skills with greater outreach and long-term sustainability.

The event concluded with collaborative discussions among stakeholders, with plans for various initiatives in the pipeline aimed at promoting high-skilled job opportunities for youth. The employer associations expressed their commitment to working closely with educational institutions and students to achieve this goal.

NACDA and KABEL, together and other stakeholders, are committed to bridging the gap between education and employment in Malaysia. The Youth Employment Dialogue marked a significant step towards addressing the youth employment issue, and invites all employers, educational institutes, and youth to join this initiative.

About National Career Development Centre Association Malaysia (NACDA)

NACDA is an organisation with an aim to enhance the employability and career readiness of graduates in Malaysia. Through various initiatives and programs, NACDA aims to bridge the gap between education and employment. NACDA is taking the lead in this national initiative, that aims to bring together youth and employers to increase high-skilled employment opportunities for youth in the nation.


KABEL is an AI-powered early talent matching platform, similar to Tinder, that matches employers with early talents from universities for internship and job placement. Kabel's mission is to provide equal opportunities for youth to secure jobs and achieve career growth, financial stability, and social security. As the secretariat for this national initiative, Kabel aims to support youth and employers to increase high-skilled employment opportunities for youth in the nation through a job-matching event and various campaigns.

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