KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Three out of five workers who lost their jobs in recent months were below 40 years of age, with most of them from the informal sectors which did not offer any social security net, according to DM-Analytic Sdn Bhd economist Zouhair Rosli.
He said a survey also showed that three out of five informal sector workers were earning less than RM4,000 a month and during the COVID-19 pandemic, 50 percent of them lost their business.
“(A total of) 2.5 million Malaysians were employed in the informal sectors. The number of youths between 20 to 30 years old working in informal sectors doubled from six percent in 2016 to 12 percent in 2019, despite the jobs not offering fixed wages.
“Those who managed to keep their jobs saw their income reduced by 90 per cent. This group admitted that they did not have enough savings even to last for a month,” he said in Youth Webinar on COVID-19: Challenges and Survival of Youths, organised by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) youth wing.
He said youths needed extraordinary intervention from the government to help them get back on track, adding that the assistance dished out thus far was insufficient for those who were self-employed or had been retrenched.
Zouhair said more jobs must be created for them so that they will be safe in times of crises like this, adding that self-employed youths should continue getting at least RM1,000 a month in government aid until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Youth Council representative Muhammad Abu Kadir Mubarak Ali said the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in highlighting the impact of Malaysia’s digital divide on students from poor homes in coping with the demands of online education, which has become the new normal as schools and higher education institutions remain largely shuttered.
“This was glaring among students in schools and colleges. Many families, especially in rural areas, do not have laptops and suffer from poor or no internet connection. We had a case where a family had only one laptop with five school-going kids.
“They were forced to take turns to use the laptop and it was not possible at times. The government must pay heed as this huge digital divide needs serious attention. The biggest losers were households from the B40 who happen to have large families,” he said.
In this regard, Muhammad Abu Kadir stressed the need for Putrajaya to fast-track its plans to address the digital challenges faced by students from poor homes.