JAPEM cites early marriage, low education as unemployment factors

National 3 minutes, 18 seconds


EARLY marriage and low education levels are major contributing factors of unemployment in Brunei, said a senior official from the Community Development Department (JAPEM).

Noryani Hj Abdul Rani, acting assistant director of JAPEM’s Employment and Entrepreneurship Section, said there are young married couples who failed to secure employment.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, she said jobless young couples’ financial problems are exacerbated when they have children.

“In some cases, the married young couples continue living with their parents, who are also financially unstable. Some of the parents only rely on the $250 monthly old-age pension.

“They (young jobless couples) are creating more problems to the family if they live under the support of their parents who are also suffering from financial difficulties,” she added.

Noryani went on to say that people with a low level of education or those who dropped out from schools cannot find suitable jobs and subsequently, experience difficulties in making ends meet.

“When one’s income is already not enough for him, it will be more difficult to help the family,” she said.

The assistant director further observed that those who were involved in drug abuse, were not committed in improving their lives.

“They just concentrate on drugs, which affect their lives and create more burden on the family,” added Noryani.

In the latest unemployment figures released from the Economic Planning and Development Department (JPKE), 12,173 jobseekers were registered in July this year. Last year, the number of unemployed totalled 18,000.

The JPKE report also showed that over 3,500 of the registered jobseekers were in the 20-24 age bracket.

Brunei’s unemployment rate of 1.7 per cent ranked seven out of the ASEAN member states, according to the 2013 ASEAN social development data.

Meanwhile, statistics from JAPEM and the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) showed that there were 20,790 underprivileged individuals in 2012, with 5,386 identified as destitute and poor.

President of Brunei Darussalam Council on Social Welfare (MKM) Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Mohd Kassim said the government welfare assistance is not sufficient to raise a family without a breadwinner.

As a non-governmental organisation, MKM has many clients who do not have permanent employment.

Currently, there are 58 clients, comprising single mothers, children, the elderly, persons with disability and the needy, registered with the council that was established to provide social welfare programmes.

“Many of our clients need jobs or they will rely on the government welfare assistance,” said Datin Hjh Intan, adding that 80 per cent of MKM clients are jobless.

She supported Noryani’s observance that poor parents do not get support from their children as they are also experiencing economic hardship. “It is not a matter of a family member not caring about the parents,” she added.

Giving an example, she said there was a case of an abandoned elderly in Belait district recently, which the council investigated.

“We found out the elder was not abandoned. The children came to visit but they are also poor,” she explained.

Datin Hjh Intan underscored the importance of greater participation of the community and family to look after the vulnerable.

The government has provided several programmes in skill development to encourage the underprivileged to be self-reliant.

Through JAPEM, the Self-Reliant Scheme (Skim Berdikari) was introduced in 2006 to provide loans without collateral for a business startup or expand their small-scale business.

In 2011, PERKASA or empowerment programme was also launched to provide one-month skills training for the underprivileged before they receive financial assistance.

Another programme known as “Program Perkasa Komuniti” also began last year, providing capacity building that includes an entrepreneurship course, skills training and self-motivation for three months.

It is hoped that participants of the programmes would be able to develop their potential and use their skills to fend for themselves.

“We need the support from the community to make use of all the opportunities provided by the government,” said Noryani.

She hoped government agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations can work together to tackle unemployment and fight poverty.

The Brunei Times