The seminar on “Youth Unemployment: Entrepreneurship as Valuable Alternative Source  of Job Creation and Economic Dynamism for Youth in Sabah” was  held on 13 September 2018 at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu Hotel, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The one-day seminar was jointly organised by the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah), (IDS) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). The seminar was attended by 232 participants comprising of officials from government departments and agencies, private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and association, higher learning institutions, youth groups, community leaders, entrepreneurs and business leaders.


The objectives of the seminar include:

  1. Increasing the public awareness especially youth on the vital role of entrepreneurship as job creation and providing opportunities to young people;
  2. Providing updates on government efforts in encouraging entrepreneurship;
  3. Providing an avenue for entrepreneurs and business leaders to share their experiences and responses on the best way of nurturing the next generation of wealth and job creators; and
  4. Providing a platform for youth to be heard of what they need to enable them to succeed.

The seminar was officiated by Madam Dg. Mas Safiah bte. Hj. Awg. Mahali, Senior Assistant Secretary, Youth and Sports Development Division representing Y.B. Mr. Poon Ming Fung @ Frankie, the Minister of Youth and Sports. In his keynote address the Minister of Youth and Sports said that youth is an important asset to the nation. It is therefore very crucial to provide a platform in terms of a dynamic environment, both socially and economically, to enable the youth to grow and develop in a positive manner and also to be financially stable. However, as the  country develops and embraces technology, industry becomes less labour intensive.


He added that with access to higher education and training institutes becoming easier, more youth are able to pursue higher education and gain academic’ qualifications and certificates. While this is a positive development, we however face with the issue of less jobs being created in the market. Therefore, youth are now encouraged to be self-employed by considering entrepreneurship as a way to make a living.


Meanwhile, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, the Chairman of IDS Sabah in his speech said that  in order to tackle the youth unemployment, there should be an agreement at the global level on the importance of entrepreneurship as a crucial mechanism of economic development and as the single most important player in creating employment in the modern economy. Numerous benefits are associated in the society through entrepreneurship. It drives innovation, solves unemployment by creating new jobs, and satisfies new consumer demands. Thus, public policy makers are continuously addressing the youth unemployment by emphasising the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises especially on youth entrepreneurship development.


Tan Sri Simon express his hope that the seminar will provide further insights on how entrepreneurship can be the alternative source for job creation and economic dynamism for youth in Sabah. This is very important as youth unemployment is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently for the betterment of Sabah. It is indeed the right time to switch youth mentality to think outside the box rather than depend on jobs offered by government or private sectors.


During the seminar, six papers were presented of which three papers presented in the morning and another three were presented in the afternoon. The seminar was moderated by Datuk Nancy Ho.


Paper 1: “Trends and Prospects of Job Creation for Youth Employment: Technology, Sectoral Shift, Change in Job Landscape and Transition Pathways to Work for Youth, by Mr. Foo Ngee Kee, the Co-Founder and President, Small and Medium Enterprise Association Sabah


The  paper pointed out the challenges brought about by the upcoming Industrial Revolution 4.0 in youth and existing workers where most of the jobs will be replaced by machines or robots. In 2030, it is estimated that hundreds of millions of people will lose their jobs. In preparations for this new trend of job pattern, the youth and existing workers have to be ready to learn the new skills and also re-skilling. He said, in Sabah specifically, youth unemployment is still a major issue.  Based on the speaker’s opinion, there are two major business prospects that have a big potential to venture in, which are the  export of farmed tropical fruit and as a free-lance licence tour guides.


According to him, in general, Small and Medium Enterprise Association (SME) vision is to prepare Sabah for the new industry revolution which is known as Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0). The IR 4.0 is all about the marriage of physical and digital technologies. This technology innovation comprises the Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotic, internet of things and 3D printing. The IR 4.0 will bring new transformation into all aspects in human life especially on the employment landscape.


Paper 2:  Youth Inclusiveness in Agriculture in Technology-Rich Environment: Key Challenges and Sustainable Solution, by Associate  Prof. Dr. Jupikely James Silip the Director, UMS Ecofarm Management Centre, Sandakan


The  paper focuses on the potential of agriculture sector, technology in agriculture, proper management of crops and land and, the challenges faced by youth in engaging into agriculture sector in Sabah.


It is important for youths to be inclusive in the agriculture industry, given the fact that this industry has been highly influenced by the advancement of technology. Furthermore, youth are more exposed and knowledgeable in regards to technology development, and this is applicable if they pursue on career in agriculture industry. Thus, it is also important to assess the key challenges that youth might face and sustainable solutions are needed to address the challenges.


He highlighted several points in the presentation such as the global scenario, the increase in world population dan the reduction of food supply due to the improper management of lands and crops. With the proper management plan, he believed that practising technologies oriented in agriculture will help farmers increase their productions and thus became entrepreneurs to market their products and services in a global scale.


Paper 3: A Comprehensive Youth Employment and Development of Entrepreneurship Enablers for Decent Employment for Young People-Malaysian’s Experience”, by Dr. Bonaventure Boniface, Agribusiness Marketing Lecturer, University Malaysia Sabah (UMS)


The paper focuses on the unemployment issues among the youth in Sabah and the potential of digital entrepreneurship development. This issue became a national agenda as youth unemployement keeps increasing especially in Sabah. Fresh graduates are among the highest number of unemployed youth in Malaysia. One of the reasons for unemployment amongst  fresh graduate is the mismatch between qualification and the industry needs.


In an effort to address this issue, the speaker suggested digital entrepreneurship as one of the solution to reduce the number of jobless graduates. This new way of doing business might become a major source of economic growth and provide wide opportunities for youth in Malaysia particularly in Sabah to become a digital entrepreneur.


Paper 4: “Entrepreneurship as a Solution of Unemployment   Problem: Challenges in Creating and Strengthening Networks of Young Entrepreneur and Community to Share in Development Progress – Experiences in Rural Hilly Area of Kiulu, Sabah, by Dr. Edmund Guntis, President of Kiulu Tourism  Association


This paper focuses on the potential of rural tourism industry in creating business and job opportunities for local people in Sabah. In addition, the current direction and importance of rural tourism industry in Kiulu was shown through a Kiulu Tourism Association visitor statistics that have exhibited an increasing trend from 2016 to 2018.


Kiulu Tourism Association is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that was established in 2015 and originally has only eight members. The members of Kiulu Tourism Association have since increased to forty two consisting of well established and new tour operators and, product owners. This association has a few objectives in mind such as uniting the tourism product proprietors and at the same time promote the rural tourism industry in Kiulu besides, establishing an environmental friendly rural tourism industry. He highlighted several important points in his presentation such as the rural tourism has a huge potential to be developed as one of sub-sectors in tourism industry in Sabah. In order to encourage the young generation especially those who are unemployed to engage into this sector, it is important to increase the relevant information to the youth about the potential of rural tourism in Sabah.


Paper 5: “Creating New Forms of Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship as an Alternative Solution to Youth Unemployment from the View of the Disabled”, by Ms. Mery Ringegon @ Catherine, Chairman, Society of the Blind Malaysia, Sabah Region


This paper provides an understanding on the definition of disability and the challenges faced by disabled individuals in Sabah and Malaysia in terms of job and business opportunity, education, training and, acceptance within society. This paper also described the roles of disable association and recommendations in handling the challenges faced by the disabled individuals.


The issue of unemployment among the disabled is never being discussed or highlighted in public. Therefore, it is time for the government or any related agencies to highlight this issue parallel with the government initiatives to solve the overall subject of youth unemployment here in Sabah.


Paper 6:  “Pro-employment Policies and Creating a Culture of High Impact Entrepreneurship to Boost Youth Employment: Capturing Young People’s Aspirations and Perception on the Future World of Work, by Dr. Sahara Djaenudin, Head of Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Management, Bogor Agriculture University, Indonesia


Th objective of this paper is to identify the current situation of youth in Indonesia and the challenges and policies that can be implemented to promote youth employment. Dr. Sahara Djaenudin highlighted that in Indonesia the number of population of youth ranging from 15 to 24 years old is 43.93 million. In 2017 alone, the total number of unemployment is 4.12 million where the youth contributed 19.9% to this figure. It shows that there is a crucial need to promote inclusive economic transformation and job-induced growth to improve the quality of life for all Indonesian.


She added that as the number of youth keeps on increasing, unfortunately only a few research bodies in Indonesia are focusing on strategies and policies aiming to promote youth employment. In fact, this issue is vital particularly in relation to the Indonesian commitment to do the sustainable development goals that aim to achieve a productive and full-employment particularly amongst the youth.


In general, the seminar has given positive impacts to the audience by providing knowledge, information and updates on youth unemployment and entrepreneurship as a valuable alternative source of job creation and economic dynamism for youth in Sabah. The suggestions and opinions have been taken into account by the relevant public and private agencies, institutions and organisations in formulating strategic measures in their specific fields to address the issue of youth unemployment here in Sabah.


Juliana  Ringgingon

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