THE GOVERNMENT, through the Human Resources Ministry, has set aside another RM100mil this year to tackle the problem of unemployed graduates of local universities.
The ministry is forced to step in because thousands of graduates, especially those from public universities, are unable to find jobs because they lack some of the skills that employers are looking for.
These graduates are found to have little grasp of the English language, and information & communication technology skills. They are also unable to communicate and interact effectively with others.
To fill these gaps, the ministry has to run special courses to round up the graduates' education, which should have been done while they were undergoing their degree courses at the university.
Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, who used to be an economics professor himself, has to keep reminding the university administrations to change their curriculum to introduce these subjects as well.
He has provided all the feedback obtained by his ministry from the employers and passed them on to the universities and the Education Ministry so that the changes could be made.
It is therefore incumbent upon the universities to give this matter their close and undivided attention so as not to add to the problem of unemployable graduates, which can lead to political, social and economic complications if not tackled immediately.
But with the normal glacial pace universities and bureaucrats are used to, the picture is not that promising in the short term and it is really up to the education officials to keep up the pressure.
One practical difficulty is that of finding the extra time to fit in the new subjects that will enable the graduates to find work quickly. It may be necessary for the universities to drop certain courses of little relevance to seeking a job.
They may even have to close some departments but this will mean some lecturers would be affected or at least deployed to do other work in order to keep them on the payroll.
The universities must bear in mind that RM100mil is a lot of money and can be used for other beneficial projects, such as loans to needy students.
The Government cannot go on putting aside so much money annually for this purpose, as this is an unnecessary drain on its limited resources. So it is up to the universities to buck or lose their credibility or the confidence of the public.