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GRADUATE employability is a hot, but often sore, topic of discussion in the country.

Employers have long complained about the lack of skills – especially communication – among fresh graduates who demand high salaries despite their shortcomings.

There is also a misguided perception that foreign graduates are better than their local counterparts, which makes it that much tougher for those looking to enter an employer’s market where the unemployment rate is high.

While the Statistics Department had reported an increase of 0.1% in the unemployment rate in January with a rate of 4.9%, a survey among 196 organisations in Malaysia revealed some promising news – fresh graduates from local higher education institutions can look forward to better job prospects in these two years.

According to the Talentbank survey, 73.41% of respondents intend to hire fresh graduates from private and public universities in Malaysia while 21.97% were unsure.

The remaining 4.62% were disinclined to hire this year.The recruitment, market research, education and employer branding company’s survey also found that about 75% of respondents were optimistic they would be hiring fresh graduates from Malaysia’s public and private universities next year.

Describing the findings of its three-month-old report as “good news”, Talentbank chief executive officer Ben Ho said the volatile and uncertain period that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic had caused many companies to cut operating costs by reducing manpower in order to get past the crisis.

“The results also indicate that private and public universities in Malaysia are producing graduates with the right set of skill sets that are in line with industry needs, ” he said in a press release on Dec 28 last year.

The survey results revealed promising job prospects for fresh graduates with backgrounds in accounting, business management, marketing, computing and information technology, human resource management, mechanical engineering, electronics and electrical engineering, mass communications, banking and economics.

Employers were asked if they placed a greater emphasis on attitude or academic results when hiring fresh graduates – over 90% said good attitude mattered more.

“These results point to a growing demand for talents who are versatile, able to pick up new skills and take on new responsibilities thrown at them, ” Ho added.

The survey also found that the top 10 most important recruitment metrics that leading employers used when hiring fresh graduates were: career readiness, extra-curricular activities, university reputation, recruitment processes, cumulative grade point average, salary range, time frame availability, cost to course applications, employee retention and students’ international exposure.

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