Making grads more employable

KUCHING - Sarawak's move to adopt English as a second language for official use will help the state's graduates become more employable, says a senior lawyer.

Datuk Dr Cyrus Das said this was crucial as many Malaysian job applicants found difficulty in getting hired because they lacked proficiency in English.

"The Chief Minister has been bold enough to declare that English should be an official language and I think that's going to help.

"I think in about 10 years, with this emphasis on English, Sarawak graduates will find themselves to be very employable," the Malaysian Society for Labour and Social Security Law president said.

He was speaking to reporters after opening the first regional conference on Current Developments in Employment Law in Malaysia and the ASEAN Countries yesterday.

Das said he was shocked by the statistics from the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) that about 200,000 graduates in the country were unemployed, with poor command of the English language as one of the main reasons.

On another matter, he said Malaysia was heading towards becoming an aged nation by 2030 and yet 67% or 4.46 million active contributors to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) had not achieved basic saving requirement.

Citing EPF statistics, he said contributors were estimated to need a minimum savings of RM820 (S$270) per month for 20 years, which would come up to RM196,800 in their old age.

"It is unlikely that this target is achievable given the high cost of living and the indirect taxes to which the people are being subjected to today. The problem is acute as the young population, which was 31.5% in 2005, is expected to dip to 17.7% in 2030 and further reduced to 13.5% by 2050.

"In contrast, the population, aged 60 and above, is expected to increase from 6.7% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2030 and 25.7% by 2050. It is believed that half of ex-EPF members exhaust their EPF savings in five years, creating the spectacle of old-age penury," he said.

As such, he called for more thoughts to be given to reforming pension systems so that the social welfare of retirees would be better looked after.