PETALING JAYA: It is a Catch-22 situation. Without a job, there is no way one can gain experience, yet without experience, it is almost impossible to get a job.
This is the predicament that young Malaysian graduates are in now. A large majority of them — 69% according to a survey by human resource solutions provider Hays — do not think they have the necessary skills to get a job.
Over and above that, a separate survey showed that nearly half of those interviewed said the lack of appropriate opportunities were holding them back from acquiring the skills they need to find a job, while 28% thought that they did not have easy access to career and skills insights.
It is not difficult to see the dilemma young graduates face. After all, academic qualifications do not amount to much in the eyes of prospective employers.
As far as Malaysian Employers Federation president Syed Hussain Syed Husman is concerned, academic qualifications are merely “theoretical”.
“There is a set of skills that you need to get employed, but those skills can only be acquired by holding down a job,” he told FMT Business.
“Among them are the ability to communicate well, listen well and to document cases or reference subject matters,” he said. “Finally, the candidate must also be able to read the behaviour of others.”
Syed Hussain said these skills must be put into practice but they can only be acquired in the relevant industries.
However, he stressed that it is not all doom and gloom. “Most organisations now have internship or familiarisation programmes to address this need,” he said.
“This will enable the individual to get a closer insight into the world of work in the future. Some companies have their own programmes to take new graduates through their management development programmes,” he added.
For Chemvi Laboratory Sdn Bhd human resource and finance director Sukunah Pachiappan, not all fresh graduates leave the campus armed with all the knowledge and skills they need to get a job.
“For instance, in some universities, students may not be allowed full use of all laboratory equipment, especially the expensive ones,” she told FMT Business.
That, she said, curtailed the opportunities that a student could have had to learn the skills that they would need when they started working.
Similarly, she said, some companies might not allow interns to use expensive equipment for fear that they might damage it.
However, Sukunah said, there are some skills that a young graduate can develop on his own. “He can be punctual, responsible and be willing to cooperate with his colleagues in dealing with work-related problems,” she said.
In the Hays poll, more than 17,600 people across the globe were asked if they believed that young people had the necessary abilities to enter the workforce after finishing school.
Only 31% said they did.
Hays Malaysia regional director Natasha Ishak pointed out that employers would gain by ensuring that those starting out on their first job are well equipped with the required skills and that they be given the opportunities to acquire such skills.
“So businesses and educators must work together to address any inadequacies,” she told FMT Business.