Be more marketable, graduates urged

Politeknik Ibrahim Sultan graduates pose for a group photo after their convocation. According to a study, 60% of Malaysian graduates remain unemployed a year later. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: University graduates have to market themselves well during job interviews as competition in the labour market is fierce.

According to a study conducted by the Education Ministry’s Graduate Tracer Study in 2018,60% of local graduates remained jobless one year after graduation.

There are 21 public and 38 private universities in the country, producing about 51,000 graduates yearly, so the job market is extremely competitive.

VS Industry Bhd executive director Ng Yong Kang said the high number of unemployed graduates was most likely due to a mis-match between industry requirements and courses offered at tertiary institutions.

“For industry, graduates in all fields of engineering and information technology are in high demand, ’’ he said when contacted.Ng said demand for electronics, electrical, software design, programming, mechanical, electromechanical and industrial engineers was still good.

He said candidates are not only required to know the basics of their field but also should be good in computer applications.

“They must also be well-versed in English for day-to-day job communications and acquiring knowledge, ’’ said Ng.

Marrybrown Sdn Bhd human resource manager Md Taib @ Md Noh Abd Samad since fresh graduates have no working experience, non-academic activities would be considered during interview sessions.

He said while certificates were important, candidates must still be able to answer in a convincing manner when asked about a particular issue.

“With current oversupply of fresh graduates competing for jobs, employers are mainly looking for long-term commitment from them, ’’ said Md Taib.

He advised graduates not to be choosy and instead gain as much knowledge and experience as possible for their future, while giving themselves time to time to adapt with new environments.

Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin said the country’s education system was outdated with tertiary institutions focusing on fulfilling academic credit hours and churning out graduates rather than a workforce that can match the industry needs.

“The government should start looking at revamping the country’s education system according to the current market requirements, ’’ he said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) counselling centre director Dr Zulfikar Ahmad described going for job interviews as similar to “selling oneself”.

He said graduates must be able to sell themselves and stand out as they were competing with those with similar paper qualifications.

“This is where generic skills play a crucial role and active participation during student years would come in handy when applying for a job, ’’ said Zulfikar.

He said university students should brush up their soft skills, especially interpersonal skills, public speaking and communications.

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