Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (ILMIA)
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Soalan Lazim

What is the function of ILMIA?

ILMIA serves as an information centre for labour data and analysis for the Malaysian labour market. At ILMIA, we are responsible for ensuring that data is accurate and up to date as well as facilitating data sharing with users. ILMIA is also the agency responsible for conducting research / studies on the labour market in Malaysia. The results of these studies will be published and used as a guide for policy-making relating to national labour.

What kind of data can be obtained from ILMIA?

Among the data that are available are data on key labour market indicators, supply and demand by economic sectors and NKEAs, average wage according to sectors, and skills by occupation.

Who uses ILMIA Portal?

ILMIA aims to inform users that are government, independent researchers, self-employed and employers, employees, students and public. The ILMIA portal can be used by all categories of user and strives to use language that is simple, non-technical and easily understood by all.

From where does ILMIA source the data that it analyses?

Data sources are obtained principally from several government agencies such as the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Education, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Economic Planning Unit, Ministry of Human Resources and others, including the private sector if made available.

What is the difference between the terms 'Labour Force' and 'Workforce'?

The term 'labour force' refers to all people in Malaysia aged between 15 and 64 years who are at work or unemployed. The 'Workforce' is another category which includes those who do any work for pay, profit or family gain (whether as employer, employee, self-employed or unpaid family worker).

What is the definition of 'Unemployment' and the 'Unemployment Rate'?

  • 'Unemployment' means the population aged between 15 and 64 years in the labour force category who are willing to, and actively looking for, work.
  • 'Unemployment rate' means the number of unemployed compared to the total labour force expressed as a percentage.

What is meant by 'Outside The Labour Force' and how does it differ from unemployment?

'Outside the labour force' refers to those who are not classified as employed or unemployed, such as housewives, students, retirees and those not interested in finding employment. Unemployed, on the other hand, means those who have yet to get a job but are willing to, and actively seeking, work.

Is the unemployment rate in Malaysia better than in other countries?

Overall, the unemployment rate in Malaysia is on average 3.4% (2016). This rate is lower than that in Australia (5.8%) and Brazil (5.6%). Malaysia's unemployment rate is basically stable and some would consider that full employment in the economy has been achieved. Although, in principle, a lower unemployment rate indicates the economy is steady, the unemployment rate will not reduce to zero as there will always be unemployment due to frictions or timing lags, as a result of, for example, employees moving to new jobs or changes in technology.

How can i get hold of books published by ILMIA?

Books and journals published by ILMIA are available online (softcopy) in the publications section. In addition, users can apply in writing or visit ILMIA's office to get printed copies.

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Employment by Occupation

Employment by occupation

Click here for detail indicators

Introduction & Background

The employment by occupation indicator classifies jobs according to major groups as defined in the 2008 Malaysian Standard Classification of Occupations (MASCO-08). Before 2011 statistics were collected under the 1988 MASCO-88 together with the 1980 Malaysia Dictionary of Occupational Classification. MASCO-08 follows the ILO International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08). KILM 5 can be further disaggregated by greater granularity in a four-level hierarchical structure for job types; by socio-economic factors e.g. gender; and by skill sets in relation to the levels of education specified following the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). MASCO-08 applies three skill levels – skilled or semi-skilled or low skilled workers. With regards to skills, the nature of the work performed in relation to characteristic tasks, defined for each skill level, takes precedence over formal educational requirements. The use of ISCED categories to assist in defining the skill levels does not imply that the skills necessary to perform the tasks and duties of a given job can be acquired only through formal education. The skills may be, and often are, acquired through (both formal & informal) training and experience. The emphasis should be on skills required to carry out the tasks and duties of an occupation, and not on whether a worker employed in a particular occupation is more or less skilled, or more or less qualified, than another worker in the same occupation.

The ILO defines occupation as a set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterised by a high degree of similarity. A job is a set of tasks and duties performed, or meant to be performed, by one person, including for an employer or in self-employment. MASCO-08 has 9 occupational categories comprising (1) Managers; (2) Professionals; (3) Technicians and associate professionals; (4) Clerical support workers; (5) Service and sales workers; (6) Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers; (7) Craft and related trades workers; (8) Plant and machine-operators and assemblers; and (9) Elementary occupations. Statistics for members of the armed forces and other security agencies are available but not included in MASCO-08 and KILM 5.

The data for occupation is captured through the Labour Force Survey conducted periodically by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOS) using the household survey methodology.

The Limitations/Comparability

More detailed analysis of future skills needs and jobs outlook is limited by the granularity of the available information on occupational groupings, which in MASCO-08 is limited to four levels and for ISCED-linked skills to three types. Moreover, higher detailed levels of occupational categories face sample size limitations and representativeness issues. Occupation and skills information could be improved with better links of qualifications and skills to Malaysia’s MQS and NOSS norms. When undertaking comparisons using the time series due care is needed to account for the changes from updates in MASCO and ISCO. Also, when benchmarking with other countries it is important to give due consideration to variations in the use of ISCO, inclusion by some countries of members of the armed forces in occupational groups and the use of combinations of labour survey and establishment survey data in drawing up the occupational categories.

Moving forward

There is a need for more detailed information to understand why the trend in skilled workers remains stagnant and against the ETP and NEM aspiration for raising the proportion of skilled workers to 50% of the workforce by 2020. In this endeavour it would be useful to better align MQS and NOSS certification of skills to the information on occupation categories of MASCO-08. Better KILM 5 information will contribute positively to meeting the needed future skill requirements of the economy to achieve the knowledge-based high income nation objective of the NEM.