Malaysian graduates: relevant yet irrelevant?

Malaysian graduates: relevant yet irrelevant?
Graduates: How relevant or irrelevant are they in meeting current job market? - File Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: The 2014 Budget which was formulated based on the theme of Strengthening Economic Resilience, Accelerating Transformation and Fulfilling Promises outlined the importance of inculcating excellence in human capital.

To this end, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the government will focus on strengthening public and private higher learning institutions towards producing quality graduates who meet the demands of the job market.

The government in its 2014 budget allocation has among other initiatives outlined a key point to improve training quality to produce highly-skilled workforce under the Ministry of Human Resource.

The RM330 million fund under the Skills Development initiative was aimed to provide loans for school leavers to enroll in skills training courses.

The Statistics Department reported Malaysia unemployment rate for March was at 3 per cent, compared to 3.3 per cent in 2013,  a positive indication that most universities graduates have joined the workforce upon their graduation.

Unemployment, is still however evident among university graduates.

A member of the Core Organizing Committee for TEDxYouth@KL, Gwen Yi said, “the most tangible reason for the lack of job force participation is the lack of English proficiency among university graduates.

"Fresh graduates in Malaysia have an unbelievably low grasp of the language," said Yi.
Yi, who is a huge proponent of youth entrepreneurship and education reform, added that regardless of the various decisions made by the Ministry of Educationin implementing teaching Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI), some students are still uncomfortable conversing in the language.

Being adept in English language is essential particularly among school leavers in order to equip themto advance in universities and gradually when they enter the workforce.

Yi, who has represented Malaysia in over 10 international conferences, cited a Jobstreet survey by that showed poor grasp of English has contributed to 55 per cent of fresh graduates’ unemployment in the country.

According to Sanggat Singh Peshi, there are a lot of  universities and colleges in the country that offer a multitude of course yet the graduates that come out of the systems are sadly, of 'no values'.

“There is no point in putting up more universities and colleges if people are left unemployed after completing their studies.

“Parents, families and governments spend millions of dollars and lots of students are coming up but they are not employed. “said Sanggat.

An advocate for International Peace Day that promotes national unity and harmony among societies, Saggat said it is a huge concern for him as a taxpayer as there are large funds being channeled for the education sector but the outcome is not as desired.

“People should focus on equipping people with more skills," he said, adding that there are a lot of new universities have been established but the question if these universities have been able to produce 'quality' graduates leave a lot to be desired.

He said, relevant quarters should ‘wake up’ and 'smell the coffee' and consider ways to improve the quality of graduates before they enter the job market.

He highlighted a scenario where colleges are producing a lot of non-qualified graduates resulting in relevant individuals made irrelevant.

Public funds, he said should be solely utilised to generate competent graduate.

Tertiary Institutions

When asked about the quality of graduates, International Relations student, Zuhad Zubir, 19, said he believes that though the skills obtained from universities are applicable to a certain extent they are still insufficient.

“I think the quality of graduates haven't deteriorated over time," said Zuhad, adding that most industries demand more than just a scroll of degree.

Tertiary education nowadays is just not enough to fulfil the needs of the market, she opined.

The first year University of Edinburgh student said students lack critical thinking skills and courage to  speak up as tertiary education in Malaysia solely focuses on the study of solutions.

She also said that most most students are easily intimidated and afraid to voice their opinions. Intellectual discourses between students and lecturers should take place regularly to improve students' crtitical thinking behaviour.

“If we equip our fresh graduates with the necessary skills, we need to prep them right from the get-go. Internships, apprenticeships, on-ground training are good training grounds for graduates before they enter the workforce.

Graduate Attitude

MSc Mechanical Engineering majors graduate, Aqil Ariffin bin Abdul Mun'im Taufik, 24, said that most graduates lack the right attitude when it comes to work.

The postgraduate student of University of West of England said most graduates do not the proper finesse and attitude after they enter the workforce.

This 'worrying trend' has been a common concern among employers and this must be addressed accordingly.