Job worries for biomed grads

I AM a final-year biomedical science student in a local university. I realise that there are not many career opportunities for a student like me. I have been following the recruitment pages in The Star and other papers as well as online job advertisements for the past six months. I realise that there are more job opportunities for business and IT students compared to science students, especially biological science students.  

We often hear that the biotechnology industry is expanding rapidly and our country is lacking scientists and yet, most of our seniors end up as salesmen. This makes me wonder why our government is pushing for more science students when the job market in Malaysia is not ready to absorb these science graduates. My friends in other sciences such as biotechnology, genetics, etc, are also asking the same question.  

So, what is left for us? If we cannot get into the working world, we go back to school. The other way out is for us is to pursue a Master’s degree in our respective fields but in today’s situation, this might not be possible. This is because if we do it overseas, we need scholarships and these scholarships are only offered to outstanding graduates. So what about the slightly above average students?  

Even for those who do it locally, we might not be able to obtain scholarships offered by local universities as even some first class graduates have failed to secure local scholarships. 

For example, in my case, where can I go? If I work in a hospital, there are already medical laboratory technologists to do the laboratory tests and they are far more trained in the practical aspects than we bio-med students who learn more theory.  

One may ask, how about the post of scientific officer? Well, just how many scientific officers can all the hospitals in Malaysia absorb every year when there are hundreds of Biomedical Science students graduating yearly? 

I read a report titled “Riveting talks at education fair” (StarEducation, Dec 19) in which Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh estimated that by 2005, Malaysia would face a shortage of 49,000 allied health professionals.  

I know that there are several options for those who graduate with an optometry, food science, dietetics, speech therapy, diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy qualification but what about biomedicine? If I work as research scientist, there are not many R&D scientific companies in Malaysia and they mostly employ Master’s or PhD holders. The same question arises: What is left for us?  

In my opinion, the job market in Malaysia is just not ready for a biomedicine graduate. I welcome feedback and suggestions from anyone, especially those who have already gone through this experience. Some may suggest that I do something else that is not related to my course. Well, I am prepared to work in other fields too but this will make my course even more irrelevant to our job market. 

If I am going to work in management or administration, what is the point of studying Biomedicine? Some may say that “in this world, you may not work in the field you studied in”. No matter how ironic this statement is, I accept it. It is just that the over 100 credit hours I went through to gain this degree would have gone down the drain. 



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