We have seen the budget presentation from both sides of the political divide. Both coalitions are addressing socio-economic issues through various forms of grants, subsidies and assistance. However, we have not seen much about the need to create jobs locally.
At present, more than 30% of graduates are unemployed due to several reasons. Prospective employers opine that our local graduates lacked the necessary communication skills and English language proficiency. Some blame the attitude and excessive remuneration demand.
Whatever the reasons, there are several issues which must be addressed before the subsidy pie grows bigger in the near future.
The Economist reported that the global economy would have to create 600 million jobs over the next 8 years. A number of developed economies such as Japan, South Korea and China are facing acute competition for jobs even though their respective economy is still growing.
Malaysia's problem is no different. We are not creating enough jobs at the top of the value chain to accommodate enough knowledge workers. The presence of more than 2 million low skilled migrant workers is a serious symptom of a lack of will to enhance quality and adopt value added processes.
The economy must start looking at the possibility of hiring local workers to fill their manpower need. The government should focus on providing assistance and incentive to companies hiring more local workers instead of being overly dependent on cheap foreign labour. With Indonesia's economy growing, there is going to be a shortage of workers in the construction and plantations sectors. We need to prepare for the eventuality. The government needs to find out why locals shunned working in these sectors. Retail and F&B are also increasingly dependent on foreign workers.
According to the report, the “job engines” of the past two centuries were usually new technologies, such as the steam engine, electricity, new seed varieties, or new types of manufacturing. Growth was also driven by more trade, easier transport, instant communications, and better rule of law.
What's Malaysia new "job engines"? Apart from the costly LRT extension, what else has been planned to provide affordable and efficient public transport to the people?
Malaysia's export oriented economy is also facing immediate risk next year from the slowdown in our traditional export markets : US and Europe. Hence, less jobs are going to be created in the next year or so. What is the government going to do to ensure that the economy continue to create jobs?
Are we prepared for a shift in the economic structure if Malaysia is moving away from low cost to value added economy? Is our education system capable of producing enough skilled and trained graduates to serve knowledge economy needs?
There are too many answers which require the attention of both coalitions aspiring to govern the country in GE 13.
However, an unhealthy and highly personalised/abusive politicking out of the way. Politicians should focus on policy contestation and tell us what can they do to serve us.