Tough times for fresh graduates

JOHOR BARU: Fresh graduates face new challenges and stiff competition looking for jobs in the coming years due to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Career Centre director Associate Prof Dr Osman Ibrahim said graduates needed more than paper qualifications in the current tough job market.Associate Prof Dr Osman IbrahimAssociate Prof Dr Osman Ibrahim

“You have to market yourself well during job interviews as you are competing with other fresh graduates as well as job seekers with experience, ” he said when contacted.

Assoc Prof Osman said the current situation demanded graduates go beyond their skillset and be ready to continuously update and refresh their skills.

He noted that as the competition was intense, a graduate must come up with creative solutions quickly, which was even more critical during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that although the starting salary could be an important concern of new job seekers, they should adapt themselves to the current situation.

“This must be considered by the job seekers during this time, and the rate of starting salary should not be always a high priority, ” he advised.

Innovation Associates Consulting head of human resources and administration, Mohd Ghaus Omar advised fresh graduates to demonstrate their unique skills and knowledge apart from good interpersonal skills during job interviews.

He said fresh graduates still had opportunities in the job market provided they were willing to explore other fields different from their area of studies.

Mohd Ghaus, who has been in the human resources industry for about 30 years having worked with several government-linked companies, also said fresh graduates would need to be more realistic when it came to their starting salary.

“The present market is not good and job stability is most important.”

He said graduates who were hired during this period should be grateful as there were thousands still unemployed.

As for those who were still unemployed, he said they could explore online businesses which had low upfront capital.

Johor South SME Association adviser Teh Kee Sin said that apart from academic qualifications, employers would also look at job seekers’ soft skills during the interview session.

He said fresh graduates and experienced working persons were at different competition stages, adding fresh graduates would not be hired if the job needed an experienced person to do it.

“Be flexible in salary expectation and the type of job if you cannot find your preferred job as the first job, ’’ he said.

Teh said fresh graduates could venture into online businesses as there were many financial assistance packages provided by government agencies for young entrepreneurs.

He also advised parents to motivate and have confidence in their children instead of blaming them for being unable to find a job.

According to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, the unemployment rate among fresh graduates is expected to increase to 25% this year.

She said 75,000 out of 300,000 fresh graduates were expected to be unemployed this year due to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noraini said 41,161 out of 330,557 graduates from 2019 were still unemployed.

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