IT’S a student’s market out there when it comes to education pathways to take when they finish schooling.
Star Media Group Bhd (SMG) group chief executive officer Andreas Vogiatzakis said there are limitless study choices available nowadays.
Despite being bombarded with all these options and access to vast amounts of data, young people today know what they want, he pointed out.
“Having access to all these information, has empowered them to know what they want to achieve in their lifetime, ” he said when launching the Star Education Fair 2020, the first of the new decade, last Saturday.
“This shift in maturity, awareness and knowledge among youth, coupled with increasing higher education options and institutions, can only mean that quality is not only expected, but demanded, ” he added.
Now in its 33rd year, Vogiatzakis pointed out that the Star Education Fair is still the preferred education fair in Malaysia.
“We have been privileged to be a part of the growth journey for hundreds of thousands of Malaysians, ” he said.
“We have also seen the shift from decades ago, when there were only a handful of higher education institutions, to what we have today, limitless choices with study options that are both broad and deep, ” he said.
“I also have a reminder to never stop learning and to always be curious.”
Quoting his favourite author Alvin Toffler, Vogiatzakis said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Education should be for all.”
“The Star Education Fund has been critical to opening up pathways to underprivileged youth since it began in 1994, ” said Vogiatzakis when thanking the fund’s partners-in-education.
“This critical service to the Malaysian community can only continue with the support of partners so we do hope to continue this initiative for many more decades to come, ” he said.
“As a media company, our line of work goes beyond the bottom line, ” he said, adding that it is part of the group’s DNA to ensure “no individual is left behind.”
The media group has done this through two initiatives - Star Foundation, their charity arm, and the scholarship fund.
To date, he added, the fund has disbursed RM136.5mil to 4,050 scholarship recipients since its inception in 1994.
This year, the Star Education Fund is offering 265 scholarships worth close to RM16mil from 30 institutions.
Exploring their interests
Visitors to the fair explored their interests with a free career test at the CAREERsense@HELP booth.
Results were revealed on-the-spot on their mobile devices, said HELP University’s career development centre director Eric Bryan Amaladas.
“The test is not a crystal ball but it helps you to know yourself so that it’s easier to make a career decision.
“The result reflects your answers so be as honest as possible if you want an accurate idea of where your passion lies, ” he said, adding that the test either confirms what you are already thinking or it provides direction to those who may be a little lost in what they want to do.
He said counsellors were also present to guide students in understanding the result.
“The test serves as a starting point of exploration.
“You can visit the relevant course providers at the fair to understand more about the career you are interested in after the result is in.”
Students, he said, must also consider whether the career they have in mind is suitable for their personality and aptitude.
He said parents should not pressure their children into taking up a course that the student is not interested in because it would be a waste of money.
“If the student has little interest in the course he or she signed up for, the risk of dropping out is high.”
He advised parents and students to do a reality check to prevent decisions from being made based on family or peer pressure, and a lack of information of what the career really entails.
Some 700 visitors took the test over the two-day fair held at the KL Convention Centre last weekend.
The 10-to-15-minute Interest Inventory (CASH-II) test is a homegrown psychometric tool developed with the local scenario in mind.
Designed specially for students who are moving up from secondary school to institutes of higher learning, CASH II contains 48 statements describing different kinds of activities related to certain occupations.
International University of Malaya-Wales vice-chancellor Tay Kay Luan said people should put their interests first and use that as a platform for their future careers.
“Parents must understand the context of the economy and the opportunities in today’s world.
“There are four areas upon graduation that students can choose to enter; graduate employment, a gap year, postgraduate education and to be self-employed, ” he said at his talk titled ‘After Graduation, So What?’.
There are many reasons to read law, said Brickfields Asia College head of legal and professional studies director Andrew Kalish.
During his talk titled ‘Career Options After a Law Degree’, he said why law is the best social science degree.
“It provides financial stability, builds awareness on one’s rights and responsibilities and prepares you with a strong foundation for further academic studies, ” he added.
Doing medicine is about making a commitment to help people and society, said Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin Malaysia president and chief executive officer Prof David L. Whitford.
“You must have the right motivation to survive the rough days -
and sometimes even weeks, because it’s tough, ” he said, adding that there are not enough doctors in Malaysia.
He advised parents to be wary if a medical course is too cheap or if the entry requirements are too low because it means the quality of education is compromised.
He said choosing institutions that are established and well-recognised, is crucial.
International Medical University clinical affairs and development associate dean Prof Dr Nazimah Idris said aspiring doctors should have these attributes - good academic performance,
grit, determination, adaptability, ability to work with people, leadership quality and desire for lifelong learning.
“If you don’t have these attributes, you can still acquire them but you have to ask yourself if this is what you really want.
“And, you must have what it takes, ” she said, adding that medical professionals cannot be clock-watchers because emergencies mean having to stay on past their shifts.
Dr Nazimah whose talk was titled ‘a career in medicine, a lifetime of caring’, described the profession as rewarding and fulfilling.
Arulkumar Ramasamy from HELP College of Arts and Technology spoke on “finding an accountant in me”.
“Accountants today enjoy working in a very conducive environment that is fun and lively.
“It’s very exciting, ” he said, adding that students have the option of either doing an academic, or a professional qualification in accounting.
He said students who prefer a more relaxed route should consider doing an academic degree which includes the whole campus experience of assignments, lectures, group work, research, quizzes and exams.
The professional qualification can be more stressful because everything boils down to the exams.
“It’s 100% exam-based meaning that you will have to perform on the day itself, which can be quite stressful.”
Those who opt for a degree, however, will still have to sit for a few professional papers to be an accountant.
“If you are doing an academic degree, find out how many professional papers you will be exempted from.
“Ask about industry exposure during the course and whether the lecturers are qualified and have experience in the field, ” he said, adding that science stream students can still do accountancy by taking a foundation or diploma programme in the subject.
He said an accounting degree offers job diversity, occupational mobility, flexibility, and high earning potential.
“You can go into education, work in an audit firm, join a corporation, start your own business or be a consultant.
It is important to have people who understand how to adapt to changes and help others to adapt
as well, said HELP University department of psychology head Elaine Fernandez during her talk ‘Psychology Now: Navigating an Uncertain Future’.
“Psychology programmes inculcate skills such as critical and analytical thinking, and emotional intelligence because these skill sets are above and beyond knowledge.
“It will enable students to navigate the uncertain future.
“We need people who are ethical minded and think about the well-being of others in order to appropriately help them but there is also a need for high levels of
emotional intelligence among psychology students, ” she said, adding that careers in psychology include sports, forensics, mental health, coaching, social work and education.
A career at sea might be lonely but it is certainly lucrative, said Akademi Laut Malaysia (Alam) Maritime Simulation and Communication Centre head and master mariner Captain David Sagaya Rajan.
In fact, with just a diploma in either nautical studies or maritime engineering, he said a person can already expect to earn at least RM5,000 as a watchkeeping officer. Captains of vessels can command at least RM24,000 a month.
“And they get to spend three months at sea, seeing the world, then return for three months of leave, ” he said during his talk on ‘Career At Sea’.
Potential students do not have to worry about securing a job after graduating as companies are willing to sponsor a student’s studies at Alam on condition that they are bonded to the company for five years.
Candidates, he added, must be physically fit and those wanting to take up nautical studies must have perfect unaided eyesight.
Alam also has bridging modules for those who have a degree in mechanical engineering and want to work at sea.
AIMST University Faculty of Dentistry deputy dean Assoc Prof Dr N Jegarajan said the study of dentistry is both a science and an art as a nice smile is aesthetically pleasing.
During his talk ‘Towards A Rewarding Career in Dentistry and Dental Technology’, he said
that the nation is in need of more dentists, especially specialist dentists.
As of 2017, the dentist to population ratio is 1:4402, which is very low, he pointed out.
“The fact that we have an ageing population is also causing a spike in demand for dentists since this demographic tend to face more dental problems.
“There is a good demand for dentists as the population also climbs up the socio-economic ladder and more and more people become aware of dental health and aesthetics, ” he added.
IACT College chief operating officer Lawrence Chan gave a talk on ‘Pursuing A Career in the Ever Growing Mass Communication Industry’.
He spoke on what Mass Communication is all about, what traits that a student should have and the jobs that graduates could secure in the industry once they enter the working world.
“Many still don’t know what Mass Communication is and parents often worry about job opportunities in the sector.
“Mass Communication is basically a business. It is just a different form of business.
“For example, advertising and journalism which are under Mass Communication, are about content production.
“Any medium that is content rich will have views and when there are views, it becomes a potential for content marketing, ” he said.
“This sector will be part of the IR 4.0. In IR 4.0, Big Data, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, are converging and it is going to affect how people consume content and information.
“This is in line with Generation Z who are digital natives, so there will be job opportunities in this field, ” added Chan.
Quest International University Perak Faculty of Social Sciences deputy dean Assoc Prof Dr Adeline Kok Li-Ming, in her session titled ‘Connecting the Dots’, spoke of the importance of Mass Communication and elaborated on its uses to corporate organisations.
She said there are three essential communication skills namely speaking, writing and visuals.
See you at the next Star Education Fair 2020 at Setia SPICE Convention Centre, Penang on March 21 and 22 and Dec 12 and 13 as well as at the KL Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur on June 13 and 14.