During the International Social Well-Being Conference 2019 (ISWC 2019) on 21 November, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the government would be allocating RM6.5 billion to Malaysia@Work to create jobs for Malaysians in the next five years; especially for fresh graduates. The Prime Minister also said that these young workers must be equipped the correct and relevant skills in order to be prepared for any socio-economic turmoil that they might face in the future.

“The allocation of RM6.5bil for Malaysia@Work will create jobs for Malaysians over the next five years. The programme has many long-term multiplier effects that go beyond the five years – it creates jobs, it creates learning opportunities, it creates relationships that require collaboration, ” he said.

The Malaysia@Work initiative was first revealed in Malaysia’s Budget 2020 report. It’s aims are to create better employment opportunities for youth and women.  It is divided into four programmes directed at providing wage incentives to workers and hiring incentives for employers:

  • Graduates@Work is designed specifically for hiring unemployed graduates who have been out of work for over a year.
  • Women@Work seeks to create 33,000 jobs per year for women who have not worked for more than a year.
  • Locals@Work is a hiring cost equalisation programme intended to incentivise the shift away from dependency on low-skilled foreign workers.
  • Apprentice@Work is a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) incentive programme. It’s primary goal is to encourage more youths to enter TVET courses.

Dr Mahathir also added that the programme would be facilitated by the Finance Ministry through the EPF and assisted by the Ministries of Education, Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Development, Home Affairs, and Human Resources.

“I want to emphasise that not only do I require the mentioned ministries to be personally accountable for the various ‘@Work’ pillars, I expect the rest of the Cabinet to step up, pool their resources and give all support available to ensure the programme’s success. If we do this well, Malaysia@Work will be the answer to driving sustainable progress and inclusive social well-being for the entire country, ” said the Prime Minister during his officiating speech.

Dr Mahathir also mentioned that while progress and technological advancement is important and must be made, it should not just benefit the few and sideline the rest, especially fresh graduates, women, and those who are working 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous, difficult). In particular, technological disruption and climate change are some of the things of note that were quoted as being important for countries to be aware of.

“Today’s technology is disrupting so many industries, with every corporation needing to change their old ways or risk being phased out. We have fintech (financial tech services) transforming the entire finance industry. In the media industry, traditional ways of working are being completely eradicated. Entire companies have closed down. Even in the medical industry, robots are becoming better than expert surgeons in performing the more complex micro-surgeries, ” said Dr Mahathir, adding that young Malaysian needed to “upskill”.

“When a big proportion of our youth are unemployed, we lose their potential contribution to the country, waste the investment we have made in their education, and create a fertile ground for discontent and instability. We cannot let that happen. All we need to do is to look towards places like Hong Kong, Beirut and Santiago to see how economically frustrated youths can bring about conflict and unrest, worsening already precarious and unstable economic conditions, ” he concluded.


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