Employment, Employability and University

By Shukran Abd Rahman and Anas Hayyan

Many of us left school education level to further our studies to acquire university education in order to aspire and achieve our personal career. We wanted to turn our ambition into reality, mostly by turning our aspired career into a dream job. Generally, the aim is to equip us with competencies that would enable us to be employed in a certain job sector. 

By and large, a university does not only prepare her students for employment but equip them with enabling knowledge, skills, abilities, and values which make them fully-functioning members in the society.  The focus of education in university goes beyond realising an individual’s aspiration but producing agents of societal change and development, befitting the concept of employability.  

While employment may concern an individual’s need to actualise his or her career aspiration, employability has the notion of social benefits that an individual is responsible for. The knowledge acquired in university is not to benefit the student alone but others in the society as well. Hence, the concept of employability addressees the effort that enables individuals to acquire knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics which would make them capable of contributing to societal development, in addition to their own employment, to state the least. 

Many have lamented that the education system appears to be contradictory to the roles of equipping students with competencies to function in the society. University education, for instance, has been seen to overemphasise on individual’s employment more than on preparing them to serve their society. Hence, students attending university education must be highly prepared to be university community members. They should be informed of their roles as knowledge workers for the society as opposed to being future workforce who attended university to undergo pre-employment training. 

In IIUM, students are prepared to be ready for university education. During Ta’aruf Week or Orientation Programme, new students are inspired on the actual meaning of pursuing studies at tertiary level.  The University’s top management would emphasise on the need for students to optimise the learning opportunities provided at the University.

The University offers various opportunities and avenues for students to acquire knowledge, develop skills, gain abilities, and learn desirable values so as to enable them to become good agents of social change, improvement and development. The emphasis has been on bringing about benefits to others (Rahmatan lil-‘Alamin) instead of just focusing on personal gain and aspiration. 

Indeed, those are the ideas that students have acquired when listening to IIUM scholars and leaders like Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Mohd. Kamal Hassan. In fact, Prof. Kamal had addressed new IIUM students in Ta’aruf Week during his term as the Dean of Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS), Deputy Rector and Rector. Whenever he met students in formal or informal sessions the idea on IIUM’s grand design has been frequently repeated.

Prof. Kamal has been reminding us on the right approaches to source knowledge, and the roles of IIUM in equipping students with the abilities to deal with revealed and acquired knowledge. He also emphasised the subjects that IIUM should champion, the values that should be taught, and the purposes of mastering certain knowledge. 

The same advice has been shared with the current students, the latest was when Prof. Kamal addressed the IRKHS Students’ Society in their Grand Intellectual Symposium. Like other students, the participants of the symposium were enthused by the lecture of this founding Dean of the Kulliyyah.

Among other things, his lecture helped participants to answer some pertinent questions on what the purposes of dealing with the knowledge are. For one’s own benefit, others or both? What are the context of time and space in which the knowledge could be made beneficial? How to relate knowledge and its epistemology to their application? 

In helping the society to deal effectively with the bio-social-psycho-spiritual aspects throughout their life, relevant knowledge and skills are needed. Knowledgeable people or scholars can help the society understand the actual scenario, verify the causes and consequences of certain situations. Scholars from various fields of knowledge, including Islamic studies, social sciences, and human sciences, need to share and apply their expertise or skills in developing the society.

In this regard, Prof. Kamal underscored the competencies that KIRKHS students must acquire when studying in IIUM. He emphasised the need to synergise Islamic Studies and Human Science disciplines by having interdisciplinary projects and initiatives which can bring upon the essence of the Kulliyyah. 

Prof. Kamal Hassan reiterated that students of KIRKHS have a sacred responsibility to play, that is to spread the message of God to the whole humanity, to continue the sublime mission of Rahmatan lil-‘Alamin. Such advice is essential and has motivated students to continuously strive in upholding the Kulliyyah’s missions and collectively work to attain the Kulliyyah’s vision. The advice by Prof. Kamal has enhanced students’ awareness on the need to increase intellectual activism in their programmes so as to stay true to the education philosophy of the University. 

We welcome all new students to this huge Kulliyyah. We look forward to making your education journey a meaningful process. We believe you will be able to develop your competencies that would enable you to know more about yourself, connect well with others, form harmonious link with your surroundings, and improve your relationship with your Creator. We hope the knowledge and experience gained in this Kulliyyah and University will enable you to participate and contribute in various situations at workplace, home, and the society. ***

(Prof. Dr. Shukran Abd Rahman is an academic in Department of Psychology, and Anas Hayyan is an undergraduate at Department of Political Science. The former is Dean of KIRKHS and the latter is President of IRKHSSS).

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