Entrepreneurship helps Malaysian students cope with tough employment market


Business minded: University students across the country are encouraged to start up their own businesses to generate income for themselves instead of waiting to seek employment. - Filepix

HAVING a degree does not guarantee employment nowadays.

Even with degrees from reputable universities, some fresh graduates still struggle to get a job. Academic performance, as Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad recently pointed out, is not the only factor that determines whether one gets hired.

Speaking at the Kuala Lumpur Global Youth Summit 2022 on June 20, she revealed that last year’s graduate employability rate stood at 85.5%.

Employers, she said, are after those who possess knowledge and skills that are relevant to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This, she added, range from digital literacy to soft skills.

To make sure our graduates thrive, they must be equipped with entrepreneurship skills so that they can earn a good living even if they are not able to secure work upon completing their tertiary education, Universiti Malaya (UM) Student Affairs Division Graduate Employability and Career Centre director Dr Iskandar Abdullah offered.

IskandarIskandar

It is good, he said, to prepare students for unexpected challenges, given the current economic uncertainty and fluid job market.“The current generation is having to cope with job and financial pressures that are on a different scale as compared to their predecessors.

“Entrepreneurship, which gives them a sense of comfort and security, is a creative and practical way to generate income.

“At least they have an alternative means of generating income if need be,” he told StarEdu.

Iskandar said all university students in Malaysia must undergo a compulsory entrepreneurship course. This is in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education), which aims to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and a drive to create, rather than to merely seek jobs, among graduates. Although nearly half of UM students from last year’s batch were initially not interested in the entrepreneurship course as they saw it as a waste of time, almost all felt that they had gained invaluable knowledge.

About 80% of them, he added, even felt confident enough to start their own businesses.

“Some 10% of our students from the 2021 batch had even registered their businesses with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

“We also had students who managed to generate RM95,588 in sales when they took their businesses online,” he shared.

The students, he said, continued to receive orders from customers even after the e-business project, which was part of the entrepreneurship course, ended.

“Their businesses did so well. The students were so excited and motivated by the sales they had achieved through their class project that they went on with the business to earn some extra income,” he said, adding that the project also led to several students setting up online businesses for their family members who were good at making traditional delicacies like muruku, nyonya kuih and sambal.

“They are not only able to benefit from this entrepreneurship course, but they are also able to create meaningful impact on society.

“Entrepreneurship is also a means for students to pick up useful soft skills and life skills that conventional academic study is not able to provide. With the right mindset and skills, anyone can start and manage a business,” added Iskandar.Agreeing, Taylor’s University Faculty of Business and Law School of Management and Marketing lecturer Manmeet Kaur Gorchan Singh said entrepreneurship education helps students learn important life skills and become more resilient.

ManmeetManmeet

This, she said, would enhance a student’s ability to secure work in the real world.

“Entrepreneurship involves skills like creative thinking, problem-solving, empathy and teamwork. It also encourages students to think creatively, identify gaps, be innovative, as well as collaborate with others,” she noted.

The compulsory entrepreneurship course at Taylor’s University is conducted to encourage creativity and innovation.

“It is also to provide students with a good understanding of how entrepreneurship supports the national economy,” said Manmeet.

She said students pick up design thinking skills through the course, where they use empathy to identify issues faced by the community and subsequently, develop solutions to those problems.

These skills, she added, are important as they train the students’ analytical, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

“Pitch presentation, which is also taught, is a crucial component of entrepreneurship.

“With the compulsory entrepreneurship education, we hope to guide students in starting their own businesses during the course of their studies or after they graduate so that they are able to stand out in the job market ,” she said, adding that entrepreneurship maximises a graduate’s employability potential.

Manmeet said response to all the varsity’s entrepreneurship modules has been good based on the student enrolment numbers.

This includes the compulsory module; an understanding entrepreneurialism elective for second year students; and the entrepreneurship and small business module for business students.

“As entrepreneurship is trending now, students want to experience and have a taste of how the entrepreneur’s journey is like by enrolling in these modules even though they may not want to start their own businesses,” she offered.


Young voices

We need to have the right circle of people who will support us when we start a business. This is crucial because many people who want to start a business do not receive the encouragement they need. I did not have business knowledge; nor was there anyone to guide me. I did know what to do. But now with eight years of experience behind me, I realised how important it is to have entrepreneurship knowledge when you start out. It’s also important to be willing to adapt and learn when we enter this industry. An an entrepreneur, you must be willing to take action and change your lifestyle. If we have a reason for doing something, we will find a way to achieve success. Trust the process. -Health product company founder Tya Arifin

One of the hardest things in the initial years was learning to work together as a partnership. Our company has four women leading the business. So many businesses fail because the partners don’t learn to ‘fight constructively’. There are bound to be disagreements in every partnership but we always made it a point to put our heads together and come up with the best solutions. With business, the key challenge is always the people. To organise the right people in the right roles at the right time is the hardest job for every chief executive officer (CEO). Next come the products. What should you be producing? What about your competitors who make the same thing but at a much lower price? Ultimately, quality does not lie. There is no need to bring down your prices if you know the value of your product. Be confident in the product that you’re putting out. -Sustainable fashion company CEO Katharina Inkiriwang

Note: Tya and Katharina were speakers at the Kuala Lumpur Global Youth Summit 2022

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