SPM school-leavers prefer to be social media 'influencers'

05 Apr 2023 10:13am
picture for illustrative purposes - 123rf
picture for illustrative purposes - 123rf

KUALA LUMPUR - Higher education is a prerequisite for the production of highly competent professionals, which in turn, contributes to the nation’s economy at large.

However, a worrying trend among Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers shows that many are not keen to pursue their higher education.

A study conducted by the UCSI University Poll Research Centre last month showed only 51 per cent out of 1,000 SPM school-leavers aged 18 to 20 years said they planned to continue studying, while 39 per cent said they would look for a job and 10 per cent had no plans.

Out of 490 respondents who did not wish to pursue their studies, including 100 who had no plans, 34 per cent wanted to become influencers or social media affiliates, 26 per cent in gig economy such as e-hailing, while 22 per cent more had no future plans.

The issue has become more apparent post pandemic with the situation expected to persist, especially with the growing number of youths who are successful as social media influencers. The perception of easy money and a dream job lures many youngsters into trying to become "social media famous.”

However, will the dream job assure them of their future?


Department of Accounting and Finance, Faculty of Business Management, UCSI University lecturer, Dr V. Subramaniam said as the world today is becoming increasingly technology-driven, more youths tend to choose jobs that are not tied to any structured work environment.
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"Based on the study, we found that youths today prefer to look for flexible and stress-free jobs, such as becoming influencers or gig economy workers, earning lucrative returns from their hard work.

"They are seen to be tired of memorising information and do not want to take any more pressure from their studies, and besides, they see no future in pursuing their higher education,” he told Bernama.

In addition, financial constraints also forced some SPM school-leavers not to continue with their studies, given the high costs of higher education, covering learning expenses and other commitments such as house rents, utility bills, etc.

The high cost of living in the cities where the majority of higher learning institutions are located, took a toll on students, especially those from B40 families, which made it difficult for them to further their studies after completing their SPM.

"In short, students not only have to bear the high cost of studies which run into thousands of ringgit, but they also have to find ways to survive in the university,” he said.


Subramaniam said the issue, if left unchecked, may see the nation experiencing a shortage of experts, especially in science and technology, which is an essential requirement in industries.

Earlier news reports said Malaysia is expected to lose professionals in another 10 years if only a small number of students choose to further their studies in the near future.

Should the situation continue, said Subramaniam, Malaysia will be forced to rely on foreign experts, hence the cost of industrialisation will rise.

"Imagine our country has to import experts at a higher price, despite the fact that we have the capacity to produce experts in the same field,” he said.

The demand for specialists will continue to rise given that the world today has embraced the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) which focuses on the use of science and technology.

Deputy Dean (Graduate Studies, Industry and Community Relations, Human Ecology Faculty, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Assoc Prof Dr Zainal Madon said the issue should be addressed, lest it will have a major impact on the skilled labour market in the technical and vocational fields.

At present, Malaysia is over-dependent on foreign workers, especially in the construction, manufacturing and plantation sectors.

"The nation not only needs part-time workers but also those who are skilled and partially-skilled in other sectors. The decision not to pursue their education, either academically or TVET (Technical and Vocational Education Training), should be viewed seriously by all parties,” he said.

The UCSI University study also found that 59 per cent of respondents were not keen on pursuing their TVET studies.


Zainal also touched on the long-term potential of gig economy for youths who choose the new career path.

"There’s no denying that the job has its benefits but for the short term...what about the long term prospects? Will they be able to sustain and be assured of their future,” he said, adding that the job is also dependent on the work momentum and health aspects.

He added that this group may be influenced by the popularity and affluent lifestyle shared by the social media celebrities.

Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer from the Centre of Community Education & Wellbeing, Dr Anuar Ahmad said he does not see the trend among SPM school-leavers becoming influencers as having a major effect on the community.

"Personally, I feel it will not have a strong influence on the family institution and the community...for example, there may be families who do not support their children in becoming influencers. I believe it will not have a major impact on family institutions and the community in general,” he added - BERNAMA