We need ‘future-proof’ grads with humanistic values, says Maszlee

Education Minister Maszlee Malik with Malaysian students in Paris. (Bernama Twitter pic)

PARIS: The education ministry is aiming to develop future-proof graduates who possess the right skills, abilities and humanistic values to adapt to rapidly-changing technology.

Minister Maszlee Malik said this is because globalisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) will change the future of the employment scene as many existing jobs could become non-existent.

“Hence, higher education institutions must know what employers are looking for and groom students in order to build the competencies that will help them to stand out or stand on  par with their competitors,” he said.

Maszlee was speaking to about 65 Malaysian students here at a meet-and-greet session at Rumah Malaysia, the official residence of the Malaysian ambassador to France, Azfar Mohammad Mustafa, here today.

Elaborating, he added: “IR4.0 is a challenging era, especially for humanistic values. It is not just about computers and learning about machines. It is more than that and involves talent planning and innovation.

“We must be prepared to face it. As technology advances, we must continue to uphold our values by respecting each other and be equipped with the skills valued by future employers.”

Sharing the Malaysian government’s aspiration and the ambitious Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, Maszlee reiterated that Malaysian youths have a big role to play in nation-building, in line with this vision.

He said that demonstrates the government’s commitment to produce more skilled workers in the future.

Maszlee said he often heard complaints from industrialists that graduates lacked the required skills and were unable to speak in English.

This had prompted the ministry to engage with industry players to evaluate programmes and co-curricular activities offered at various higher education institutions.

“What we found is that the institutions are not offering the right skills required by the companies. This resulted in Malaysian graduates being not marketable, both in the country and globally,” he said.

Later, during a question-and-answer session, Maszlee said it did not matter which country a Malaysian student graduated from, rather it is more of equipping students with cutting-edge skills valued by employers globally.

“The institutions of higher learning also need to play their role and responsibility in grooming students and preparing them for the workplace.

“This will enhance the competitiveness and ensure students are industry-ready,” Maszlee said in response to a question from B Arvinderan, 22, a fourth year chemical engineering student from ESCM Strasbourg University.

To another question by 25-year-old Muhammad Nasrullah Zulkafli, of University of Technology Belfort Montebeliard, on how to promote greater racial integration among students, Maszlee said a task force will be formed to present a proposal paper to the Cabinet.

He said this will involve all relevant ministries and agencies in order to foster interracial harmony, integration and unity.

Maszlee is currently in the French capital to represent Malaysia at the 40th session of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).