Graduate employability: A priority of the Education Ministry

KUALA LUMPUR: A concern for parents and students alike is the possibility of getting a job upon graduation.

With the increasing number of graduates year after year coupled with the challenging economic climate, chances of getting a job appears challenging, to say the least.

This, coupled with worrisome headlines published in the News Straits Times (NST) online version (Feb 3)

—“More and More Graduates are Facing Unemployment in Malaysia” — one is bound to believe that the future of employment seems bleak, said the Education ministry’s Higher Education Department today.

It was reported that 21 public-sector universities and 38 private-sector universities produced some 51,000 graduates annually, but 60 per cent were unemployed a year after graduation, basing on the Education Ministry’s 2018 Graduate Tracer Study.

On this note, the department said, there was a need to correct the statistics published in the article.

“They are far from accurate and have not been obtained from the ministry’s Graduate Tracer Study. The exact statistics from the 2018 Tracer Study shows that 341,311 graduated from 702 institutions of higher learning, and General Skills Training Institutions (ILKA).

“This consists of 20 public universities, 267 private institutions of higher learning, 33 polytechnics, 89 community colleges, 82 vocational colleges, 33 ILKA of the Ministry of Human Resources, 19 ILKA of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, 11 ILKA of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Based Industry, 146 ILKA of the Ministry of Rural Development and two other institutions of higher learning.

“Within six months of graduating, the graduate employability rate for 2018 was 80.2 per cent with 58.6 per cent attaining jobs including in entrepreneurialship; 15.7 per cent furthered their education; 1.3 per cent underwent training for skill improvement, and 4.6 per cent were waiting for a job placement,” it said, stressing that the percentage for unemployment was only at 19.8 per cent and not 60 per cent.

The department added it was also crucial to note that the graduate employability rate had increased between 2017 and 2018 by 1.1 per cent.

“Graduate employability is one of the main agendas of the ministry. The ministry together with the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the industry are working to ensure that graduates meet the requirements of the job market.

“Among initiatives that have been planned and are continuously carried out include industry involved curriculum, value infused talent, intervention programmes to increase graduate employability, and many more.

“The industry has been actively involved in developing academic programmes, mentoring lecturers and students as well as providing industrial experience to the students via practical training, internship programmes and work-based learning programmes,” it said.

It added one of the pioneering programmes that feature this collaboration which took a systematic and holistic approach was the 2u2i study mode in 2016.

This programme, it said, required students to spend at least one year in the industry.

“As such, upon graduation, the graduates will gain practical aspects as well as theoretical part of the programmes. Students will also get the chance to learn from the industry experts using the latest technology that is available within the industry at that period of time.”

Another initiative undertaken by the ministry, it said, was through a newly developed Bachelor of Technology Degree (BTech) programmes in specific technology fields that was offered by the four Malaysia Technical Universities Networks (MTUNs).

“The programme is created with a more structured work-based learning courses in the industry to ensure the students are well prepared when they graduate with higher graduate employability.

“The ministry has also launched a value based initiative, known as Service Learning Malaysia: University for Society (SULAM). SULAM is a teaching and learning method that combines classroom learning with service learning.

“This method requires students to interact with the community to solve local problems using the knowledge and skills that they have learned in the classroom. SULAM also offers a platform for students to foster patriotic spirit, unity, and national identity,” it said, adding via SULAM, the value of love, happiness and mutual respect were nurtured among students of various races, cultures and religions.

The ministry, it added, had designed intervention programmes for courses that were found to be of lower demand.

“Through the intervention programmes, students undertaking these courses are given added value through their participation in professional accreditation in areas such as digital marketing, cyber security, data analytics, internet of things to name a few.

“Through these programmes, students will be offered jobs by companies that have collaborative efforts with the HEIs and the ministry. In sum, what has been presented as a dire situation in terms of graduate employability by the article is in fact erroneous.”

Graduate employability, it stressed, was the ministry’s priority and efforts had been carried out and would continue to be executed together with the HEIs and the industry.

“It is understandable for parents and students to be worried about life beyond graduation. After all, it has been a concern of generations before and is unlikelto disappear overnight.

“Rest assured, the ministry is ever vigilant in working towards a better future for our graduates,” it said.

Article from: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/566731/graduate-employability-priority-education-ministry

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