Preparing graduates for a pandemic-hit economy

Renewed commitment: Noraini signing the MoU between the Higher Education Ministry and PUNB.

IT is a tough job market out there for fresh graduates.

Not only are they competing with their peers but they also have to contend with those who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and are now vying for the same positions.

In view of this, Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB) and the Higher Education Ministry are stepping up efforts to create more Bumiputera graduate entrepreneurs who can fend for themselves instead of being dependent on salaried jobs when they finish university.

Through a renewed memorandum of understanding (MoU), PUNB chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar said they hope to see at least 90% of a graduate’s income coming from a business he or she initiated.

“Every graduate hopes to get his or her dream job but the stiff competition in the job market, combined with the country’s current economic conditions, has affected many who now face difficulties securing employment, ” he said.

During the MoU signing ceremony, which was held virtually on Nov 18, Noh said PUNB will have an apprentice-mentor programme, known as Jom Jadi Perantis PUNB (Jumper), to promote the entrepreneurial culture, and guide and prepare the apprentices for success as entrepreneurs.

He said there are two categories for the eight-month-long programme, namely, Jumper Start-Up and Jumper 2.0.

Jumper Start-up will expose the apprentice to the real world of entrepreneurship through placement opportunities in companies in partnership with PUNB.

Jumper 2.0, said Noh, is for young entrepreneurs who want to expand their businesses.

“We want to develop real entrepreneurs who are not just job seekers, ” he said, adding that these entrepreneurs will also become job creators for others.

After three months, the apprentices will be evaluated by their mentors to determine if they are really interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

If they are, Noh said, they will continue for the remaining five months of the programme.

Also part of the MoU is a programme called EntreprenuerMOHE@PUNB “Empowering Business Through Digitalisation”.

The pilot programme will see 500 graduates undergoing three months of entrepreneurship training under a mentor.

The programme is part of the National Economic Revival Plan (Penjana) Higher Education Ministry-Career Advancement Programme (KPT-CAP), Noh said, adding that the graduates will receive a monthly allowance of RM1,200.

The short-term programme focuses on management and leadership training, financial training, assets and stocks, as well as technical guidance for strengthening skills in digital marketing that are needed by today’s businesses.

Through this programme, PUNB also provides expert advice related to business through BizKonsultansi, which can be accessed online by participants.

At the same ceremony, Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad said some 300,000 graduates are expected to enter the job market this year.

The ministry, she said, is worried about the fate of these graduates due to the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic.

“Strategic mitigation measures and careful planning need to be taken to minimise the impact of these future uncertainties, ” she said, adding that entrepreneurship has much potential to be explored by students and graduates.

She added that the ministry also emphasises reskilling and upskilling training to create resilient graduates who can take on an uncertain future.

The first MoU between the ministry and PUNB was signed on Apr 15,2016.

The latest MoU will encompass research, entrepreneurship and graduate marketability while focusing on Bumiputera graduate development to grow the country’s economy.

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