Many people were forwarding an infographic from TheEdgeMalaysia with the title, ‘Half of Malaysians earn below RM2,000 a month.’ Their comments? ‘Oh dear, how sad…’ I am not sure if everyone read the infographic thoroughly or only the title because it is clearly stated that only 32 percent of wage earners in Malaysia have tertiary education. In other words, 68 percent does not have a minimum qualification of a diploma or higher. This 32 percent of the people earns a median income of RM3,274 while 54 percent of those with a secondary qualification is earning a median income of RM1,600. Logically, even when compared to neighbouring countries or advanced nations, should we be looking at secondary school leavers earning above RM2,000 per month? If our secondary school leavers are all earning RM2,000 or higher, let’s be honest, all the MNCs would have moved elsewhere. As for all the other advanced nations, it’s a similar situation for those without a degree versus those with one. Please do proceed to read about them. Google for it to understand why. Moving on, all our SMEs would also have to close shop if they have to pay RM2,000 or higher to all secondary school leavers. I would definitely want every Malaysian to earn higher incomes but it must come with better skills, experience and even qualifications (by gaining more knowledge for example). It should not be just higher salary but productivity remains the same. We may be killing ourselves in the medium term if we do so.
I do not think there’s anything wrong with this infographic and it has nothing to do with how sad the economy is for example. The damage will be far greater if it’s otherwise. Malaysia is not the most special country in the world. If the costs to operate is high, no one would come here and even our very own companies will find it hard to compete. What we must do however is to ensure that all Malaysians continue to have access to tertiary education, especially the vocational tertiary qualifications because there are many who just hate academics. Let them learn a skill (or force them to) but at the same time provide them enough business and financial knowledge for example so that their end product could be marketed well and they would earn above average incomes. The market is not just Malaysia but the world.
One day, when our tertiary educated workforce reaches 50 percent and we STILL have this same infographics, then there is really something wrong with our nation. By the way, based on the article, half of all working population earning below RM2,000 meant that there are at least another 15 percent of the working population without a tertiary education earning more than RM2,000. This number already tells us that some of these secondary school leavers are either doing well above their peers or that they were those who have moved up because they were better than the rest. They may even be a blogger at night or driving GRAB in the weekends. I have no idea but please look at the infographic again. There is nothing to be sad about if. Everyone have to UP our productivity and of course, qualifications too. Happy understanding.
written on 2 April 2018
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