The survey found that these graduates typically expect salaries between RM1,800 to RM2,100 (73 percent), but only 54 percent would have their expectations met. Another 35 percent's pay was below RM1,800.
Meanwhile, 37 percent of diploma holders's salaries were lower than RM1,200, "far below their expected salary level" that is typically between RM1,200 and RM1,800 (67 percent of respondents).
The entry point salary level for degree holders has remained stagnant since 1997. It is shocking to note that cost of living has doubled, if not tripled, during the same period. The number of tertiary institutions has grown significantly but we are merely churning out new generations educated poor.
The same report mentioned that respondents needed RM700 to make ends meet. These ends must be really short ones! Rental rates in certain areas in Klang Valley have ballooned to almost RM500 per room per month.
Coupled with cost of transportation, food and basic amenities such as health care and basic household products, it means that those who are earning less than RM1800 a month do not have anything extra for contingency. It is almost unimaginable how those who are earning less than RM1000 are going to survive in the city.
What has gone wrong? There are several reasons:
1. Malaysia's economy continues to compete on cost and not knowledge, ideas and innovation
2. A lot of jobs are being created but quality ones are far too few to accommodate knowledge workers. A lack of appreciation for good ideas, knowledge and soft skills means employers are reluctant to pay any premium for good knowledge workers
3. There is a general sense of inferiority of local graduates to an extend that employers do not rate them highly. Poor English proficiency and communication skills have often being cited as a major setback for local graduates. Both private and public education systems are either too commercially driven or lackluster.
4. Unregulated foreign/migrant workers are the main obstacle for Malaysia to break the low income barrier. I find it both tragic and sad to find front line industries hiring lowly skilled and educated foreign workers to serve clients and customers. The government has to regulate foreign workers before the situation gets any worse. They should study how Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia regulate foreign workers. There are many examples in the world to help put the interest of local employees above that of foreign workers.
The government has promised to help raise income level to more than USD15,000 by 2015 through its various ETP programmes. Defacto EPU Minister Mustapha Mohamad had merely made a statement but we are still awaiting his plan and strategy to ensure that Malaysia is able to double its income in next 3 years. It takes a miracle to achieve this goal if the government continues to do nothing but just paying lip service to its aim.
A few investors at an investment seminar lamented that Malaysian politicians wake up every morning thinking only about power grab and electoral victory. This is the most damaging observation about our country.
It does not help when one coalition is asking for absolute majority to maintain status quo and the other one is asking for more time to prove themselves. Five years is what a modern electoral democracy can give any government to prove their worth. Not another 50 years, 20 years or 15 years.
The more pertinent question is what will Malaysia become in the next 3-5 years under the prevailing condition?