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Our spoiled graduates

 | December 24, 2016

They think they can demand high salaries just because they were photographed collecting their degrees.

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My first job was to pluck out the grey hairs from my grandmother’s head. I received five sen a strand. To a seven-year-old, a handful of five-sen coins seemed like a king’s ransom. Grandmother had so many grey hairs that by the week’s end, I had saved enough for an ice cream. On other days, I could treat myself to a bun with coconut filling from the bread man.

Apart from giving me the feeling of accomplishment for being able to pay for my own snacks, the job was an opportunity to bond with my grandmother. As I plucked her hair, I heard stories about the olden days.

When I had grown a little older, I earned money washing the family car, doing household chores and taking care of a disabled relative. Later on, a stint at the university library helped to fund my postgraduate course. I also had jobs in a kitchen and a supermarket and as a babysitter.

When I got my first job as a graduate, I was so grateful that I did not think of demanding a minimum salary. I could afford only a bicycle to get myself to and from work, eight miles away. It was fortunate that the workplace had a shower.

Many of my peers were of the same ilk. We got onto the employment ladder and climbed our way up slowly. We gained experience at one level before moving onto the next. Of course, money mattered, but getting the right skills was more important.

That is why Thursday’s news report about a Job Street survey is interesting. Fresh graduates in Malaysia are reported to be picky and demanding salaries in excess of RM6,500 a month.

Job Street’s regional communications head, Simon Si, said 68% of the employers who took part in the survey claimed that about 30% of new graduates priced themselves out of the employment market with unrealistic salary demands.

Si also claimed that many graduates had been spoilt by the financial support they received from their parents during their time at university. This pampering led them to expect a certain lifestyle standard.

So are today’s graduates spoilt? Do they think that the world owes them a living?

People nowadays are bombarded ever more by advertisements that give images of wealth and the so-called good life.

That’s one of the downsides of the information explosion. No wonder even children have become materialistic. And graduates seeking their first jobs dream of loads of cash and a life of glamour. Unfortunately, few seem to realise that they have to work hard to get what they want.

Parents who spoil their children are partly to blame, as are the universities. Do universities prepare students for life in the real world and tell them not to have grand expectations?

With the deterioration of education worldwide, even below-average students are able to graduate. These less-than-mediocre graduates think they can demand high salaries just because they were photographed collecting their degrees. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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