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KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Several quarters have welcomed Budget 2022, which has projected the creation of more jobs and the reduction of unemployment, as an antidote at a time when many people have lost their source of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of June this year, unemployment was recorded at 768,700 or 4.8 percent and, as such, the Jamin Kerja Keluarga Malaysia (JaminKerja) or Malaysian Family Job Guarantee initiative in the budget gives hope to the people to rise and help drive the country’s economy.
Nevertheless, some economists are of the view that the guarantee of 600,000 new job opportunities to be created with an allocation of RM4.8 billion, as announced during the tabling of Budget 2022 in Parliament on Oct 29, remains a challenge to be realised.
Economic analyst Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latif said this was because an almost similar initiative was proposed in Budget 2021 by way of the Skim Jaminan Penjanaan Pekerjaan (JanaKerja) which projected the creation of 500,000 jobs apart from the Malaysia Short-term Employment Programme (MySTEP) for 50,000 contract jobs.
“If these programmes had been implemented successfully this year, it would have been needless for the current budget to set such a high target of 600,000 new jobs and 80,000 jobs under MySTEP.
“This indicates that the JanaKerja programme which was supposed to have created new jobs this year had not been successfully implemented, so much so that a higher target had to be set (by the government) for next year,” he told Bernama.
According to Ahmed Razman, on average, the number of new jobs created in each quarter of this year was still less than 20,000.
As such, he suggested that the government be more transparent in sharing data and statistics to explain the level of achievement of each initiative and its impact.
THE SPIRIT OF JAMINKERJA
Associate Prof Dr Anuar Shah Bali Mahomed, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the government under the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would adopt a new approach to create more jobs.
He said the seriousness of the government in creating new jobs could be seen in the increased overall allocation of development expenditure amounting to RM75.6 billion, or 22.8 percent of the total budget allocation, for next year.
“This is also in line with the allocation of development expenditure amounting to RM400 billion that was announced during the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025),” said the senior lecturer at the School of Business and Economics, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Under Budget 2022, the government via the Social Security Organisation (Socso) will continue providing the hiring incentive via the JaminKerja initiative with a target of 300,000 people and an allocation of RM2 billion.
Under this initiative, for employers who hire Malaysians who have not been actively employed, the government will provide an incentive of 20 percent of the monthly salary for the first six months and 30 percent for the next six months subject to jobs with a salary of RM1,500 and above.
In addition, to encourage employers to provide employment opportunities for targeted groups like people with disabilities, Orang Asli and former prisoners, the government will provide an incentive of 30 percent of the monthly salary for the first six months and 40 percent for the next six months subject to jobs with a salary of RM1,200 and above.
Further, the MySTEP initiative will be continued next year by offering 80,000 contract employment opportunities covering 50,000 jobs within the public sector and 30,000 jobs within government-linked companies from January 2022.
This budget also targets 220,000 trainees to undergo various upskilling and reskilling programmes with a total allocation of RM1.1 billion.
REDUCING WAGE SUBSIDY
The government is also seen to be significantly reducing dependence on the Wage Subsidy Programme in controlling and further reducing the rate of unemployment.
The programme is seen to have been effective in controlling and reducing the unemployment rate, for example, from 5.3 percent in May 2020 to 4.5 percent in May 2021.
However, Anuar Shah said the expenditure incurred by the government as a result of the implementation of the programme was high.
For the record, the government has allocated a total expenditure of RM15.7 billion for the four wage subsidy programmes.
“That is why under Budget 2022, the government will implement the Wage Subsidy Programme targeted at the tourism industry players, and the government will continue the programme specifically for tour operators who experienced a decline in revenue of at least 30 percent.
“With an allocation of RM600 million, this initiative will benefit more than 26,000 employers and 330,000 employees,” he said.
STEPPING UP SKILLS TRAINING
The emphasis on various training programmes in Budget 2022, which carried the theme of ‘Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Sejahtera’ (A Prosperous Malaysian Family), is very significant in ensuring the continuity of employment opportunities, especially those related to the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Director of the Malaysia Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Associate Prof Dr Razali Hassan, said the emphasis on new training and skills could indirectly ensure the continuity of employment opportunities in line with digital transformation and the changing of the technology landscape towards Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“In my opinion, this is a very good initiative by a government sensitive to the economic changes and effects of the pandemic, and it should be noted that the effects of the pandemic have greatly changed the employment landscape and gives more focus to employment involving the digital world.
“The new skills sphere, especially digital TVET, will receive attention to ensure that new employees, as well as those re-employed, attain new skills in line with digital transformation,” he said.
The move also sees the offer of high-value jobs, including to youths, based on their expertise and skills.
For this effort to be successful, TVET agencies or supervisors such as vocational colleges and the National Youth Skills Institute (IKBN) have to provide vocational education and training in a more professional manner as well as collaborate with related industries so that the goal of producing skilled workers can be realised.
“Reskilling and upskilling are good efforts to ensure that those affected by or lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic secure jobs.
“These efforts can be further streamlined if techno entrepreneur skills are given along with financial assistance or initial capital to create more small entrepreneurs to support larger industries,” he added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
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