With younger workers amongst the worst affected by the pandemic, Hays CEO Alistair Cox says it is the duty of business leaders to act and support this generation of workers.
As pandemic-induced uncertainty continues to lend gloomy economic forecasts around the world, graduating students in Malaysia are facing unprecedented challenges in securing their first job. According to a recent report by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) and the International Network of Employers and University Careers Services, “Although the direct impact of Covid-19 has been limited in Malaysia, the economic impact has been marked with substantial job losses predicted. Recruitment has fallen this year and is expected to continue to fall next year. Some respondents anticipate that this will have a permanent impact on the graduate labour market in Malaysia and may shift the nature of the skills that employers are looking for.”
Alistair Cox, CEO of global recruiting experts Hays, stresses the importance of business leaders to act; “Whilst of course, our young people are more than capable of helping themselves out of this situation, they can’t do it alone. They need us to hear them. They need our help and support. While it’s encouraging to see many governments around the world stepping in to help protect their careers – from job creation and employment guarantee schemes, to training incentives, apprenticeship programmes and job retention bonuses – employers also have a pivotal role to play in unlocking the ‘lockdown generation’.”
Alistair says companies should continue with their graduate and intern schemes to help the younger generation, they should support their younger workers in working remotely, and onboarding processes will need to be adapted to reflect the new era of work.
Alistair also states that employers must open their minds when hiring and move away from set pre-requirements; “It shouldn’t matter where a candidate went to university, or even if they went to university at all. What matters is that they are the best person for the job. What matters is their potential. So, widen your net to consider those who have completed apprenticeships or vocational educational training going forward – the focus shouldn’t just be on university education.”
Alistair says that when it comes to reviewing grades, organisations must remember that due to the disruption caused during the exam season, grades which appear on a jobseeker’s ’s CV might not be a fair reflection of their abilities. However, what can help build a more accurate picture of a candidate is understanding how they have used the lockdown period proactively, such as volunteering, caring for vulnerable family members, additional learning or taking on home projects. This information will help organisations gain a valuable insight into the character and potential of applicants.
Investing in the skills development of employees, regardless of their generation, is key to an organisation’s future success in the new era of work. Alistair states that the first step is to start at the beginning, and work to close the disconnect between the skills that are taught in formal education settings, and the skills that employers and industries actually need in the real world.
Alistair advises; “It’s now absolutely essential employers work with educators to facilitate work-based learning and degree apprenticeships – albeit in a socially distanced world – and are given access to help frame the curriculum so we can be sure it is as relevant as possible for the new era of work.”
Alistair says that it’s the obligation of leaders to facilitate the sharing of practical, honest, real world careers advice to those young people still in education, such as mentorship programmes, industry days or even our own social media networks.
Alistair comments; “This is particularly important now for a number of reasons: education has been disrupted due to the pandemic, young people are tending to stay in education longer and, lastly and perhaps most importantly, the world of work is changing faster than ever before.”
Alistair continues; “As leaders, we’re out there in the world, we’re on the ground, every day, so we’re uniquely placed to share our thoughts and guidance in order to ensure each student has a well-rounded view of the skills in demand and how they might fit into our world going forward.”
There is an increasing need for companies to define and articulate their purpose, their reason for existing. As company valuations and project expectations have been completely thrown out of the window by the pandemic – Alistair says now could be the ideal opportunity for Boards to do the right thing, to re-evaluate shareholder returns and devote proper investment towards their social purpose by helping the youth of today blossom tomorrow.
Using Hays as an example, Alistair says; “This is something we are working hard on developing at Hays. Our purpose of “creating opportunities and improving lives” is perfectly placed to help our future generations, whether that be in the form of, as I’ve said above, providing careers and workplace advice or helping them upskill or reskill. It is undeniably true that the social contract between society and business is changing; much of this movement being accelerated by the coronavirus.”
Alistair closes by saying; “This is a call to arms to all the leaders out there. The needs of your current employees are of course important right now, I’m not questioning that. But we mustn’t lose sight of our youth. They need our guidance more than ever now. They are the future and we must do what we can to ensure that future is as bright as possible.”
This content was originally published as a LinkedIn Influencer blog.




About Hays Malaysia

Agensi Pekerjaan Hays (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd ("Hays Malaysia") is one of the leading specialist recruitment companies in Malaysia in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. We provide mid to senior level recruitment services across both finance and commerce industries. We have become known as the experts in sourcing regional and global candidates, as well as returning Malaysians.

Hays has been in Malaysia since 2012 and boasts a track record of success and growth, with two operating offices located in KLCC and Sunway. At Hays in Malaysia, we operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent positions in the following specialisms: Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Construction, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance, Legal, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Marketing & Digital, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales.


About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2019 the Group employed 11,600 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million;
  • the Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;
  • 18% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 32% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA