Employment opportunites remain dim for graduates who are not as proficient in the English language.
MALAYSIAN graduates today are weak when it comes to speaking and writing in the English language, and that to a large extent, affects their job prospects.
In fact, with more job openings for graduates especially in the digital, marketing and creative sectors, one would expect the vacancies to be snapped up easily, but this has not been the case in the recent past.
“There are now more jobs than good talent in the industries we service, so graduates do have better prospects compared to a few years ago during the economic downturn,” says Reema Bhullar, a public relations and communications expert.
However, the lack of conversational and written skills in English has been a drawback for some which is why there are still many job vacanices, she adds.
Specialising in recruitment solutions, she shares that English language proficiency plays a big role for job candidates in the three (digital, marketing and creative) related sectors are usually judged on their resume, phone conversation and performance during the interview. .
“While companies may differ in their needs and requirements, one cannot run away from the fact that employability is also about attitude and perception.
“Most employees think that once they have secured a job, they have made it. They fail to periodically upgrade themselves to remain employable and relevant in the industry.
“When the economy dips, it is those with a lackadaisical attitude who may face a dim future or lose their existing jobs,” adds Bhullar.
“Sometimes fresh graduates are not aware of their poor language skills until their employers complain or point it out to them,” says ELS Language Centres vice-principal Josephine Teo.
“They have to take the initiative to improve their own skills and abilities and enrol in language courses,” she adds.
Teo says that language classes provided at vernacular schools are not enough for young students to learn another language and they need to get additional lessons.
“You need to immerse learners in an English-speaking environment because you won’t learn a language just by listening, you can only improve it through practice,” she adds.
“We have one main rule (at the language centres) - students must only speak in English during lessons,” says Teo.
Bhullar adds that while many international companies are looking to Malaysia and the region because of their marketable pool of talents, proficiency in the English language is still a critical requirement.