Labour market information

Building a smarter labour information platform

A new online course from the ILO has helped Malaysian officials upgrade their understanding of labour market information and skills anticipation systems.

News | 30 June 2021
There is a need for labour market information system in Malaysia. ©ILO
Resolving conflicts in employee reinstatement is an important part of Amira Syabana Rosli’s role at the Department of Industrial Relations Malaysia (DIRM), where she both prevents and reconciles trade disputes.

Describing herself as one of DIRM’s “data champions”, she recently attended the International Labour Organization’s online training course on labour market information systems (LMIS) and skills anticipation—a tailor-made course co-developed by the ILO Skills for Prosperity Programme in Malaysia (SfP Malaysia), the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Department of Statistics, Malaysia (DOSM) and delivered by the ILO International Training Center.

“We are not really a department doing development in terms of systems and technical stuff. However, I can say that this training has given me very useful knowledge at least to know things regarding labour statistics and how it can benefit the country,” she said.

In recent years, the Malaysian government realized a need to enhance capability-building in the area of labour market information. There were many labour issues looming in Malaysia, particularly related to skill mismatches and underemployment amongst graduates. Hence there is a need for an integrated labour market information system to help businesses search their potential workforce for the right skills, talents and knowledge.

Labour market information consists of multiple qualitative and quantitative data sources. A labour market information system (LMIS), when effectively managed, is essential for policy-making on skills development and employment. This is because LMIS can provide policy-makers and decision-makers with insights into current and future labour market trends. The management of the system, however, can be complex. In Malaysia, that means the involvement of almost 40 governmental departments and agencies.

As Malaysia is seeking to build a highly skilled workforce, the Malaysian government, for the first time ever, is undertaking the tremendous effort of consolidating labour market information and data from various sources. The Economic Planning Unit (EPU), under the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) are leading this initiative.

“This is to bring together all the fragmented labour market information that we have across many ministries and agencies into one place, so that it can give tangible results [for national policy making],” said Ms Amirthavalli, Principal Assistant Director in Employment under the Human Capital Development Division of the EPU, during the opening of the training course on 26 April 2021.

The e-learning course spanned a period of nearly two weeks, from 26 April to 7 May 2021. As many as 99 officers from 36 ministries and agencies participated in the course. Attendees included representatives from central agencies and specialized ministries including the EPU, DOSM, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources , the Public Services Commission and Ministry of Finance.

The training is part of SfP-Malaysia’s technical assistance to the Malaysian government to build a labour market information analytics platform (LMIAP), which will help to enhance the future readiness of national technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills systems. The SfP-Malaysia is funded by the United Kingdom government.

The training provided global perspectives and understanding of the collection, compilation analysis, dissemination and monitoring of labour market information. It also included an overview of different international practices in assessing current and future skills needs in broader macroeconomic contexts as well as on how to identify and measure current skills mismatches in the labour market. Participants acquired better understanding of the skills anticipation and matching approaches, methodologies, institutional arrangements and mechanisms needed to identify labour market imbalances in terms of supply and demand of skills.

“I love the topic on how essential labour statistics are,” said Ms Amira of the DMRI adding that the training broadened her appreciation of sharing labour information with the public.
Jeffry Douglas anak William Nagun, Unit Head for Research at the Sarawak Labour Department, was another participant. His responsibilities includes management of all departmental statistical articles and publications.

“The ILO training was a stepping stone into a systematic data-driven environment on a global scale,” he said. “I have learnt about key labour indicators according to the ILO standard and how they could be helpful for policy-makers,” he added.

He was referring to the 17 labour market indicators including those on employment (such as occupation, status, sector and hours), labour underutilization and the characteristics of job seekers, education, wages, labour productivity and working poverty. These indicators provide a strong foundation from which to address key questions related to productive employment and decent work.
Junichi Mori, SfP-Malaysia Chief Technical Advisor, highlighted that the course is only the starting point of a broader collaboration with the Malaysian government. The ILO will provide additional technical support in the development of the LMIAP, via a systematic cooperation framework. Numerous upcoming activities include knowledge-sharing workshops for the development of a national skills registry, stocktaking to review and examine existing skills frameworks and advanced courses on skills anticipation.