Hopes and fears for fresh graduates finding jobs

By Sarah Rashdi

GOMBAK, 6 September 2021: Finding employment has become more elusive nowadays, hence this has become the most immediate fear among fresh graduates.

Being rather pessimistic, completing their study calls for a lot of diligence and sacrifice. Although they have always been conscious of the current condition that is not favourable to find jobs, they certainly hope to avoid succumbing to unemployment.

The good news is that the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has directed its efforts towards relieving the plight of fresh graduates to find jobs through long-term strategy, Graduate Employability Strategic Plan, which is slated to run from this year until 2025.

In a recent RTM interview, the Ministry’s Planning and Research Division’s Under-Secretary, Dato’ Shaharuddin Abu Sohot, said that the Ministry has stepped in by having various initiatives to help this group of Malaysians.

It will be the main guide for local institutions of higher learning (IHL) to ensure the employability of their graduates in order to be competitive and fulfil the needs of various industries.

A total of four strategies, 13 initiatives, and 31 activities mostly emphasise the application of 21st century skills that is crucial for graduates before entering the job market. It includes technology literacy, information and communication, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking.

It also focuses on using a Future Ready Curriculum to prevent the deterioration of employability for the graduates. This is an organic-based and flexible curriculum that fosters transformational teaching and learning that can vouch for positive development.

Chances for graduates to get jobs

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the country experienced growth in unemployment numbers in 2020, representing a 0.4 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Shaharuddin pointed out that the closure of premises due to the COVID-19 pandemic chipped in for the economic decline of most countries. This has led to a reduction in the workforce.

“Shutting down their businesses or shrinking their operation size due to the pandemic has created a tough situation for graduates to find jobs. Even more for those who don’t have work experience yet.”

The capability of fresh graduates to secure jobs upon completing the studies within a span of six months or upskilling themselves through a programme that can promote personal growth is being measured through the employability rate.

Last year’s rate of employability for graduates recorded a decrease by 1.8 percent to 84.4 percent compared to 86.2 percent in 2019.

“Fresh graduates have better chances to obtain jobs or further their studies if the rate shows an increment,” he added.

The economic performance and the job market leave great influence on the employability of graduates, thus the Ministry has carried out two programmes under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA). Both programmes are Career Advancement Programme and Professional Certification.

The Career Advancement programme helps the graduates with job matching and placement and entrepreneurial programme. The participants also stand a chance to learn skills to generate income through the gig economy or freelancing.

“The unemployed graduates of public and private graduations from the years 2019, 2020, and 2021 can participate in these programmes. It promises job placement for graduates as soon as they complete their training but under certain criteria that need to be fulfilled first,” he said.

The intervention programmes that the Ministry has always carried out focus on students from public universities with lower CGPA. It aims to provide them with additional skills and increase the employability rate.

Employment from various industries would also be offered to them upon completion as long as they meet up the criteria.

The number of students from higher educational institutions who had part-time businesses while in the middle of their studying has exceeded 68,000 students while nearly 8,000 students still pick up the thread of their businesses after completing their studies.

He added that the collaboration between the Ministry with the industries and academia in the institutions is in an effort to improve the curriculum and developing a more industry-driven environment for students.

Efficient Registration

The Graduates Reference Hub for Employment and Training (GREaT) is a portal developed by the Ministry with the cooperation from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Malaysian Digital Economy (MDEC), and the Companies Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia or SSM) in an effort to make the registration more efficient.

It is designed to provide the students and graduates from the years 2019, 2020, and 2021 with searches for training that promote better personal growth and information regarding the jobs that meet their qualifications.

The ‘jobmatching’ module that is featured in the portal allows the graduates to match with the company or industry demands.

He points out the uniqueness of this portal from other existing employment portals is that the graduates do not necessarily need to apply for jobs since the information stored by the Ministry’s existing graduate tracking system will be used instead.

“The graduates’ data or information that MOHE keeps in reserve will be matched with the criteria demanded by the company or industries. This portal is using multi-criteria filtering and ranking that will match the jobs,” he said.

The graduate’s information such as field of study and level of education, name or type of high educational institutions, CGPA, their address, MUET qualification, proficiency in languages, and skills in information and communication technology will be revealed to the industry in order to make easy selection of the graduate that meet with their criteria.

“No competition with the other employment portals is intended when creating this module. Instead, it serves to complement them.”

The information shared by graduates was done upon agreement that a third party will use it to gain employment and to fill a job vacancy of the companies. The Companies Commission of Malaysia would check the status of the companies to avoid fraud. Hence, data protection is assured.

The Ministry’s technical data will then give approval to the companies after the necessary requirements have been fulfilled. The Ministry will also impose on the companies a period of time for them to complete the job selection.

These programmes are available for free on https://great.mohe.gov.my/.

The link to the full interview with the MOHE official on RTM can be found here.***

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