Learning & Development Asia 2024 Singapore
Malaysian Gen Z keen to get a job with an MNC, in hopes of security and stability

Malaysian Gen Z keen to get a job with an MNC, in hopes of security and stability

What this implies is SMEs and GLCs will have to catch up to the perceptions around what MNCs offer.

"Mundane, repetitive, and unstimulating jobs are a thing of the past. The new generation of talent (is) looking for jobs that offer a challenge and provide autonomy to express creativity and the ability to network. We see a conscious effort by the workforce in selecting companies with a social conscience and careers that create impact."

This was the observation shared by University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, and Head of Division for Organisational and Applied Psychology, Dr Michael Mustafa, in the recent UNM Student Survey 2023 on today’s job market perception and preferences.

Among the other key findings identified on today's Malaysian youth were: 

  • Views split on gap year: Before joining the job market upon graduation, 50.8% of respondents said they did not need a gap period or planned break, while an almost equal 49.2% respondents said they did plan to take a break. Of those who wanted a break, 39.7% said they wished to take between one to two months, while 34.5% preferred a longer period of between three to six months. Spending time with the family, time for self-reflection, and time to plan an intended career path were some of the reasons for the gap year.

  • Top job seeking methods among fresh graduates: Go-to means for securing a job typically were cited as LinkedIn (76.1%), followed by job sites (e.g., Hiredly) (69.9%). Other methods included recommendations from friends or family (64.6%), university career advisory services (48.7%), and career fairs (43.4%). *Respondents were allowed to select more than one preferred option.

  • Security, stability and growth high on their list: When asked about organisations of choice, 51.7% of respondents preferred MNCs, followed by those citing SMEs (16.9%). Others included in their responses were Government-linked companies (GLCs) (11%), start-ups (8%), setting up their own business (6.8%), and freelance gigs (3.4%), while the remaining were unsure. MNCs were perceived to be attractive owing to the standards attached to established companies, benefits, higher salaries, diverse talent pool, and the possibility of mobility within the company’s network.

  • Side hustles becoming the norm: With the rise of the gig economy, and a growing need to supplement wages, 57.6% of respondents said they felt it was important to establish a side hustle. In addition to the added income for expenses like travelling and supporting family members, respondents also felt side hustles provided security in the event of emergencies such as layoffs, as well as new opportunities to gain experience and skills.

  • Red flags in their first job: A large majority of respondents (90%) highlighted company culture as a major concern when starting their first job. More specifically, concerns around toxic work culture and cliquish colleagues were aspects fresh graduates deemed as red flags which impacted how long they would stay in a company. Other concerns included limited growth opportunities from a career progression and salary standpoint (70%), limitation of creativity and flexibility by supervisors (60%), doubts about a graduate’s skill compatibility with assign tasks (50%) and finally, workload (30%). *Respondents were allowed to select more than one preferred option.

  • What will help retain Malaysia's Gen Z: Most respondents (54.2%) said they were ‘most likely to stay beyond two years’, especially if they experienced career development and reasonable salary increments. Respondents who said they would still ‘most likely leave in under or after two years’ attributed it to seeking better opportunities to expand job roles, relocating, perception of increased salaries with new hires, and interest to experience other work environments.

The survey results were based on over 100 responses from degree (60%), foundation or diploma (34%) and postgraduate (6%) students. Respondents were aged between 17 years to 24 years and were a mix of local and international students.

Dr Mustafa concluded: "We are in an interesting time in history with the introduction of hybrid work which involves flexibility around workload and working hours. The real challenge is for employers and talent to co-create the ideal workplace by encouraging greater input from both Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Generation Alpha (born between 2010 and 2025)." 

ALSO READ: Three focus areas highlighted in the Mid-Term Review of the 12th Malaysia Plan

Lead image / Shutterstock

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