EDUCATION is not just about the paper chase but a meaningful journey in charting a career path.
Students should explore new boundaries in order to take charge of their future.
Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said higher education should be an experience that will set the tone for their future.
“Deciding on the most suitable course after completing secondary education is a big step.
“It sets the tone of the career pathways that school-leavers will embark on, ” she said when opening the Star Education Fair 2019 at the KL Convention Centre.
Dr Siti Hamisah, who is from the Education Ministry, was glad to see the Star Education Fair having a section where students could do a career interest test to help steer them towards courses that would suit them.
Events such as the Star Education Fair, she said, encourages partnerships not just between educational institutions but among parents, the community and the private sector.
Dr Siti Hamisah congratulated Star Media Group for organising 32 successful years of education fairs.
She also commended it for providing scholarships through the Star Education Fund, which has helped more than 3,900 students pursue their tertiary studies. (see more on the Star Education Fund)
Ng said education had been a focus of the group since day one.
“For over three decades, the fair – an independent platform featuring reputable learning institutions, has been a go-to event for parents, and students,” she said.
“On our part, we make sure that the exhibitors who come on board are not fly by night operators because quality education is not something we can ever compromise on.
“This is not an ‘open day’ featuring one university or college. It’s an ‘open day’ with all the movers and shakers of the industry present.”
“So when you come to the fair, you know you are choosing from among the best,” she said.
Ng said they greatly valued the support shown by the ministry.
Follow your dreams
Passion, potential, personality, priorities, prospects and parents make up the 6Ps that will help school-leavers gain a clearer sense of what they want to do.
Sound advice from Savant Garde Learning Solutions chief executive officer and principal trainer Thomas Yap who spoke about “The 6 Ps in Charting a Suitable Career Path After SPM”.
“You can be a Harvard grauduate, but if you are not suitable for the job, you won’t get hired,” said Yap, a guest speaker for Asia Metropolitan University, who has over 12 years of training experience.
“You first must know that the only certain thing in life is that the future is uncertain.
“You must find out what your passion is, what you enjoy the most because passion leads to purpose, and purpose leads to your profession.
“Then determine your strengths, traits, and what you value the most (priorities), and prospects,” he said.
Yap advised parents not to live their dreams through their offspring and encouraged them to adopt an open mind when discussing options that their children are considering.
He also cautioned school-leavers not to follow in their friends’ footsteps as they may regret the decision later on after much time and resources have been spent.
“But if you have already made a decision, remember there are no wrong or right choices. There are good choices and bad choices, which you can make the most out of.
“Focus on what is in front and look forward. Learn from your past and not live in it,” he said, adding that the past shapes how each person turns out in the present.
“When it comes to making a decision, children need to back up their interests with findings to their parents, who should keep an open mind about their suggestions and interests,” he said, adding that it is best to “keep emotions at bay” during such discussions.
School-leaver Sarah Leong was at the fair to check out various pathways she was considering.
“The fair is convenient because we get information on the different courses available, which helps us narrow our decisions, as we visit each booth,” she said.
Her friend Chan Suk Wah said they took heed of advice from the experts on the importance of being ready for the industry rather than merely studying for the sake of getting a job.
“It helps us to get a clearer picture on the possible path to take after Form Five,” she said, adding that she wants to study mechanical engineering.
Father Tan Eng Jin who is a pilot, used his only day off to take his eldest daughter Caresse Tan Zhi Nie, 18, to the fair.
“I’m pretty happy that she is taking the initiative to search for options after completing SPM last year,” said Tan, who is based in Seremban.
Caresse, who visited the fair two years ago, said she wanted to gather information on her next step.
Game development and IT
KDU University College Computing and Creative Media School head Tan Chin Ike highlighted the severe shortage of game development talents in Malaysia during his talk “Study Game Development: Being A Part of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry”.
Besides elaborating on the components of game development, which include game art, game design, and game technology, Tan said Malaysia is home to over 50 large game companies, while Southeast Asia has over 100.
He said Asia has the second largest market share (22%) worldwide in the distribution of game developers as of 2017, after North America which has 49%.
“Malaysia has been doing games since the 90s and many Malaysians are not aware of this.
He noted that Malaysian game developers played large roles in the production of popular games such as Final Fantasy, Fifa, Street Fighter, Call of Duty, Unchartered and many more.
“It is definitely an industry that allows us to ‘cari makan’, so parents should not be too concerned or apprehensive if your child is interested to join the sector,” he said.
Separately, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation senior manager Muhammad Anis Ur Rehman said the country is currently facing a mismatch in supply and demand in the area of digital technologies.
“There is a huge demand for graduates in the area but we don’t have enough talent.
“The demand goes up close to 20% each year but our intake of professionals only goes up by about 3%.
“There are great opportunities in and out of the country; ICT is booming,” he said at his talk titled “Exciting Opportunities in Information and Digital Technologies”.
Areas like data analytics, cloud computing, cyber security, forensic computing and software engineering are areas of growth in the future, he added.
On innovation technology, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology senior vice president (industry empowerment) Datuk Raja Aznil Raja Hisham said youngsters today are different from their parents and have a different world ahead of them.
“They are people who want to make what’s impossible today, possible tomorrow.
“In the 21st century, change comes fast and furious. Employability comes not only to those with paper qualifications but those who are able to continuously acquire knowledge, work with others and are adaptable,” he said, reminding students that commitment and passion are crucial in success.
“We can groom and encourage but you must want it,” he added.
Tunku Abdul Rahman University College computing and information technology programme leader Ooi Chun Pew said there is a big demand for “the ABC” of digital talents.
“The demand for artificial intelligence (A), big data (B) and cloud computing (C), is growing but supply is low.”
He said there were many ICT job opportunities for those with the right skills set and attitude.
The industry, he said, was getting more exciting by the day.
“Innovative and creative ICT solutions make a big difference in people’s lives. The Internet of Things is a hot topic now and will continue to be at least in the next decade,” he said during the talk on ICT.
At entry level, ICT professionals would start at about RM3,000, and progress to over RM20,000 when they get to senior manager level, he added.
IACT College chief operating officer Lawrence Chan, who was speaking on a career in mass communications, said graduates could earn “good money” if they were well trained.
He said mass communications offer many opportunities in advertising and branding, marketing, digital marketing and public relation, journalism, digital video and film production, graphic and multimedia design, and event planning and management.
Citing journalism as an example, he said people would always want to consume reliable news content.
“It may seem like there is not future in journalism because everyone now has a voice with blogs, vlogs and social media, but reputable news will always be in demand.
“Journalism is important for the dissemination of balanced news reports. The only thing that has changed is how people consume news,” he said.
He said everyone has the necessary creativity for a career in mass communications and the ability to earn well.
“Yes, it can be stressful and 12-hour work days are a norm - especially in the initial years.
“But if you learn to manage your time well, and you’re willing to work hard, the rewards are there. “And, work can be quite flexible,” he said.
Those with diplomas, he added, can expect a starting pay of between RM2,000 and RM2,500, while degree holders are looking at RM3,000 to RM3,500. The journalism industry is rapidly evolving to adapt to the digital age.
Manipal International University Division of Mass Communication head of mass communication and senior lecturer Mohd Shah Abdullah said digital media has brought a new set of challenges, which includes adhering and maintaining high ethical standards, during his talk “Journalism in Malaysia: A Way Forward”.
He added that mass communication graduates need to be innovative, creative and independent so that they can adapt to the changing media landscape.
Working in the health industry
Melaka-Manipal Medical College head of department of surgery and chief clinical coordinator Prof Dr M. Nachiappan said a career in medicine is a lifelong commitment.
Doctors need to keep learning to keep advancing and contributing to society, he said during his talk on “A Career In Medicine” during the first day of the fair.
He advised those wanting to pursue medicine to take up a specialisation.
He said that specialists can earn lucrative salaries with those in the private sector able to make about RM40,000 to RM80,000 a month.
During the talk on “Pursuing Medicine and Health Sciences”, RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus RUMC professor and head of department of surgery Prof Dr Premnath Nagalingam kept the crowd captivated with images depicting the evolution of surgical methods.
He shared that when he was training to be a surgeon, they would make large incisions on a patient so that they could “see, touch and feel the depth” inside a patient’s body.
“Now, we use a camera system and insert instruments through small holes on the body,” he said.
He said that methods were continuously evolving with robots now performing surgeries while the surgeon sits away from the patient and controls the robot.
“Remote robotic surgery is now possible for a surgeon with a good Internet connection to operate on a patient 10,000 miles away.”
University of Nottingham Malaysia School of Pharmacy acting head Prof Nashiru Billa spoke on the evolution of pharmacy through the ages.
He said that those interested in pursuing the pharmaceutical sciences must have strong communication skills as a pharmacist must focus on human behaviour and educating the public on medicine.
Kubheren Thayanethi from Subang, was spotted trying his hand at ‘keyhole surgery’ at the RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus booth.
The 17-year-old who’s considering a career in “either medicine or engineering”, was trying out the laparoscopic stack, which is used to train budding doctors in keyhole surgery.
“It’s an interesting experience. I’m glad they brought the equipment here for students to try.”
AIMST University Faculty of Pharmacy deputy dean (student affairs and alumni) Sabri Hashim said the Government has provided many incentives to encourage the pharmaceutical industry.
“The scope of the industry is much bigger now so you don’t have to worry about getting a job.
“Various initiatives by the Government has led to job creation especially in manufacturing.
“Options now go beyond hospitals and community pharmacies. From drug production in factories to drug dispensing and follow-up pharmaceutical care, fresh graduates won’t have to worry about their future,” he said during the talk on the challenges and opportunities for pharmacists.
Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) Centre for Collaborative Partnerships director Dr Hassan Sathik provided insight on “The Integrated Healthcare Team - Exciting Careers In Healthcare” - elaborating on the occupations available in the healthcare sector.
“There is more to healthcare than doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
“From incident up to recovery, every injury involves a diverse team of healthcare specialists - from medical doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, occupational therapist, dentist, speech therapists, and many more depending on the case,” he said.
Dr Hassan added that the future is bright for youngsters who want to venture into the healthcare sector.
“It is a recession proof occupation. There will be recession, but people will still get sick and need medical attention. It also provides high job stability and satisfaction,” he said.
Sunway Le Cordon Bleu general manager Ming Rathswohl Ho spoke about the different types of chefs a culinary arts graduate can become during her talk “Career Paths of a Professional Chef - Sunway Le Cordon Bleu”.
She said becoming a chef at a restaurant isn’t the only option.
“Graduates can consider becoming a celebrity chef, private chef, start their own company or catering business,” she said, adding that those trained in culinary arts can also find jobs related to manufacturing fresh and packaged foods as well as kitchen product development.
“They can also operate a restaurant on a cruise ship,” she said.
She noted that culinary arts is a profession that has a “never ending” cooking process.
“In the cooking profession, one must continue learning progressively in order to grow. Everyday is a learning process,” she said.
Ho added that students will be trained to be disciplined, punctual, organised, hygienic and more at chef school. It is also about character building, she said.
Chefs themselves must be healthy to have the strength to serve quality food to people, she added.
Tau Film producer Mandeep Singh, a producer at Tau Film which was formally known as Rhythm and Hues, spoke on “Exclusive Insight on the Booming Animation and Visual Effects/VFX Industry Straight from Hollywood”.
After giving an overview about visual effects and animation, Mandeep shared interesting visual effects videos of Hollywood films.
He said many Hollywood films such as “Life of Pi”, “Snow White and the Huntsman” and many more involved Asian talent.
“If you wait till the ending credits, you will notice many Malaysian and Asian names in the visual effects segment.
“Malaysia’s visual effects and animation industry is booming as we speak,” he said.
Mandeep, who has over 14 years of experience in the animation and production field, said one does not need to be an arts graduate to venture into the field.
“I studied law and economics before I ventured into visial effects and animation,” he said.
Future proof yourself as the world is uncertain, said Finance Accreditation Agency chief technical officer Dr Eddy Chong.
“We cannot uninvent technology and once it becomes more sophisticated, we will have to rethink what we can do to add value as humans.
“Due to industrial revolution, jobs and skills are changing.
“It is more important to build on skills to meet these job (requirements),” he said at his talk titled “Employability Skills: Future Proofing Our Next Generation”.
Karim Ali Eletre from Crew Lounge, said a cabin crew could earn between RM9,000 and RM12,000 per month.
That’s not inclusive of the annual bonus. And, when you come on board, you even get a welcome bonus.
The airline recruitment and cabin crew training academy founder and CEO was speaking about a career as a cabin crew.
“On top of the basic salary, the more you fly, the more you’ll earn.
“On an average, you’ll get about RM50 an hour when you’re flying. And when you land, layovers are usually in luxury hotels,” he said, adding that there was also the 30-day annual leave, discounted flight tickets and annual bonus to look forward to.
“One year, a middle-eastern carrier gave a 12-month bonus to its cabin crew.”
He said the perception that a cabin crew’s job was just to push trolleys down the aisle, is wrong.
Because of their solid service skills, cabin crew who retire after 10 or 15 years, have a myriad of career opportunities in training, aviation, tourism, hospitality and public relations.
“Parents often ask, what do my kids do after they stop flying? Well, they’ll be very rich.
“And, they’ll still be able to embark on a new career,” said Karim, who was an engineer before becoming a cabin crew.