Salaries For M’sian Fresh Graduates Have Remained Unchanged For More Than 10 Years

Many end up in unrelated jobs, hindering skill development and career advancement.
For more than ten years, salaries for fresh graduates in Malaysia have stayed the same, making it hard to bring in and keep talented people in important fields like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Even though there’s a growing need for skilled workers in these fields, the fact that salaries aren’t going up as fast could hurt our efforts to build a strong workforce for the years ahead.

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Salaries for fresh grads remained unchanged over 10 years

Employee/salary with calculator and files
For illustration purposes only. Photo via Canva

Dr. Nor Shahidah, who’s an expert in Geological Engineering and Soil Mechanics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, stressed how vital it is to set salary ranges that match professional standards, reported NST.

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She believes this isn’t just about fair pay, but it’s also essential for getting young people interested in STEM careers.

“The discourse surrounding the remuneration of STEM graduates has become increasingly open, highlighting that salaries have not substantially increased from those offered to individuals starting their careers 10 to 20 years ago,” she noted.

Why only a few are interested in STEM jobs

For illustration purposes only. Photo via Canva

One reason fewer people are interested in traditional STEM jobs is because the gig economy is growing. Shahidah mentioned that jobs like social media influencing can pay better and offer more flexibility than STEM careers, which makes them more appealing to young people.

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Engineer Rahmat Muhad Anuar, who has been working in the field for thirty years, shares worries about the stagnant salaries. He thinks the government should step in and make companies raise the salaries of fresh graduates.

He says many grads end up doing jobs that have nothing to do with what they studied, which stops them from getting better at their jobs and moving up the career ladder.

“Most fresh graduates are assigned unrelated work outside their field, such as data entry, which does not allow them to learn or improve their skills.

How can this enhance students’ skills when they lack the opportunity to learn, leading to a lack of high-skilled engineers in the country? If they are not skilled enough, they cannot increase their salary,” he said.

‘There are too many who only know theory’

Megat Johari Megat Mohd Noor, who leads the Malaysian Society for Engineering & Technology, criticised the industry for what he called exploitation.

He said companies don’t pay enough for the hard work they demand. He also pointed out a big problem: there aren’t enough engineers with the right skills. He explained that while the industry needs engineers who specialise in certain areas, there are too many who only know theory.

“As it stands now, the industry needs engineering technologists who specialise in specific fields, but we have an abundance of engineers who are only proficient in theory.”

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