Labour and Education

Unemployment Issues among Registered Jobseekers in Brunei Darussalam (2009)

This study on unemployment was conducted in collaboration with University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD). It identified the main reasons for unemployment among jobseekers registered with the Labour Department. The findings revealed a significant mismatch of career expectations and available employment. The jobseekers lacked adequate vocational skills, with high preference for white-collar public sector jobs, and they also lacked entrepreneurial interest.

Policy implications from the findings such as the need to expand Vocational Technical Education, address Mindset and Attitudes and the development of a more attractive and secure private sector employment market have been socialised to relevant Ministries and/or agencies and have been invaluable in assisting policy-making. In particular, the need to address MISMATCH and change MINDSET amongst Bruneians have been frequently cited and emphasised.

The study resulted in:

  • The organising of a job fair with walk-in job interviews and candidate screening by 16 companies in the private sector at Chancellor Hall, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, in February 2008.
  • Socialisation in the form of a CSPS Round-Table Session in collaboration with Asia Inc Forum in April 2009.
  • A CSPS Report in 2010.
Unemployment Issues among University Graduates (2012)

Acknowledging the lack of research on employment and unemployment issues among university graduates in Brunei Darussalam, in 2012, CSPS conducted a national survey of 816 university graduates of 2006 to 2011. The objectives of the survey were to: (a) measure the degree of unemployment and underemployment among university graduates, (b) understand the dominant factors related to unemployment and under-employment, (c) understand levels of job satisfaction among university graduates, and (d) recommend actions to alleviate employment problems.

Key findings suggest that several characteristics have an impact on the probability of unemployment, acting both through the individual labour supply and preferences – shifting the reservation wage – and through the signals sent to the employers – shifting the distribution of the potential wage offers.

The study put forward a number of policy recommendations, including: the adoption of active labour market policies (ALMP); a need for a mindset change and a review of the structure of public incentives and subsidies; policies aimed at easing the burden of combining work and family; continuous review of the scholarship policies aimed at improving the future employability of university graduates; internationalisation of the local universities; improvement of the labour market data, required for a dynamic, flexible, and evidence-based approach to education and labour market policies.

Findings and policy implications have been socialised with the relevant stakeholders and were included as an article in CSPS Strategy and Policy Journal.

Minimum Wage Policy (2014)

The main question to be addressed in this policy brief is whether Brunei Darussalam should adopt a minimum wage policy.  Our premise is that a minimum wage policy is not a universal solution as it is dependent upon considerations within the national context; the cost of living, productivity, competitiveness and employment structure. It is our view that Brunei Darussalam already practises some form of minimum wage policy in that there are already minimum wage levels that are imposed on each category of public employment and for foreign workers.

Should the Government decide to in addition, apply a minimum wage policy towards other sectors of employment, in particular, the private sector, then in the current context of Brunei Darussalam whereby there is a lack of labour organisations and collective bargaining capacity especially for the low wage unskilled and semi skilled sector, a significant number of unemployed (including voluntary unemployment) local youths, high number of foreign workers (skilled and unskilled), low productivity rates and a growing awareness of the existence of significant poverty levels, we would argue that there is a justifiable case to do so. Tackling poverty, unemployment and lack of productivity amongst low wage workers is the pertinent target, and, the main justification.

A basic policy is proposed whereby a blanket minimum wage level, options as follows, is set, applicable to specific sectors which the Government has identified as low wage, informal and lacks bargaining power:

  1. Slightly above the poverty threshold of approximately BND 250, at BND300.
  2. Comparable to the lowest salary offered in Governments which is around BND 495 per month.
  3. Between 30 to 50 per cent of the median income of the country, as commonly practised abroad. More research is required to calculate this option.

This study has been published as a CSPS Policy Brief in 2014.