Why Manufacturing Jobs Are Not Popular Among Young People

Ever wonder why manufacturing jobs have fewer young talents than other industries? For young people in Malaysia, here's the truth.

Regardless of the high rate of youth unemployment, Malaysian youth don’t prefer manufacturing jobs. The manufacturing industry has been a major contributor to Malaysian economic transformation, contributing 21.46% to the country’s overall GDP according to a World Bank report in 2019.

Yet, young people are still unwilling to work for manufacturing companies. They perceive manufacturing works as one of the 3D jobs. The dangerous, difficult and dirty. To solve labour shortages, the government has welcome immigrants to work.

But, the ubiquitous presence of foreign workers causes dissatisfaction among locals. People demand the government to prioritize job opportunities for locals, especially youngsters. However, what makes young people shy away from this sector in the first place? In this post, you’ll find out why young adults refuse manufacturing jobs in Malaysia.

1. Economic stigma

Manufacturing employees are often depreciated. Society perceives them as unsuccessful, financially unstable and working in a poor condition.

From the public’s perspective, factory jobs are either for dropouts or students who don’t get opportunities to further their studies. Thus, most parents don’t see manufacturing jobs as the best occupation for their kids.

Due to these notions, young people avoid this career path and  prefer white-collar jobs instead. After all, young adults believe office jobs carry higher social standing in the eyes of society.

2. Workload and wage

Manufacturing employees are often described as overworked and underpaid. Although most youngsters are willing to accept long working hours, they refuse to be low paid. Young people suppose the wage given doesn’t seem to be worth the workload.

They believe they’re overqualified to join manufacturing companies. “Why do I have to settle for an underpaid job when I have high academic qualifications?”

Society still believe that you don’t need any skills to be in an assembly line. Thus, manufacturing careers aren’t preferable to youth. They look for career choices that can match their qualifications and salary demand.

3. Career growth

Most youngsters suppose manufacturing jobs consist of routine and repetitive tasks. They suppose these kinds of jobs to be boring. So, they’ll naturally lost interest after doing the same thing over and over again.

Furthermore, they think that there is no room for career growth such as job promotion and salary increment. Young people nowadays look for non-routine careers that offer new and fresh challenges. They’re confident that factory jobs have no room for creativity. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in the manufacturing sector.

Some also worry about the security of the job. They foresee a future where the human workforce in manufacturing is no longer needed. Especially when advanced technology in industrial robots arises over time.

4. Workplace environment

Most people including the young believe that manufacturing jobs are too risky. This is due to endless news about fatal accidents on a factory floor. People don’t want to witness frightful tragedies, let alone to experience them. Youngsters don’t prefer to deal with high-risk machinery like automatic cutting equipment.

Even when accidents rarely happen, the manufacturing environment may cause some health issues. For example, exposure to hazardous raw materials such as silica causes skin irritation. The inhalation of these particles may eventually lead to lung diseases.

Machines like industrial ovens can also cause extreme heat on the manufacturing floor. Most young adults aren’t comfortable working in a high-temperature environment. Hence, they turn away from manufacturing careers.

5. Time restriction

Working in a manufacturing company requires youth to sacrifice time. In some cases, manufacturing employees need to work six days a week and their off-day may not be on weekends. This means less time for family members, friends and entertainment.

They are reluctant to run their night shifts while their peers are having fun. They fear missing out on something great. That’s why nine-to-five jobs are their top choice.

They get to have a good rest at night, spend time with their families and have fun with their friends on weekends. For them, it seems like the best path towards work-life balance.


Over the years, perceptions of this industry are greatly influenced by social stigma. Young people are unwilling to work in manufacturing sectors due to misconceptions and lack of passion.

When in reality, factory works demand high creativity and skills as well. From virtual reality (VR) to 3D printers, you can experiment with literally – everything!

Yet, the younger generation is still unconvinced of what manufacturing companies can offer. All we need is a change of mindset on how we perceive manufacturing careers.

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