Graduates told to acquire soft skills to improve employment odds

Manyin (right) takes part in a gimmick to launch the event at the Innovate Sarawak Design Challenge 2018 while Unimas deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs and alumni) Prof Mohd Fadzil Abd Rahman (centre) and industry representatives look on.

KOTA SAMARAHAN, Dec 11: Academic excellence alone will not be enough to land graduates a job, as employers and industry players are also looking for those who are also well equipped with the necessary soft skills.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said the painful truth behind the difficulties of graduates trying to land a job today was because many of them did not fulfil the minimum requirements of the soft skills which include communication skills, particularly English proficiency, leadership abilities and the ability to think critically.

“You may have an impressive curriculum vitae but when you are weak in communications and other practical skills, it is difficult for you to pass a job interview,” he said during the launching of the Innovate Sarawak Design Challenge 2018 at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) here earlier today.

Some 50 students from the Engineering and the Computer Science and Information Technology Faculties attended the event.

The challenge would be held at Unimas on May 14-15, 2018.

Manyin said nowadays, one of the criteria job seekers need to fulfil to pass an interview by industry players is to pass the psychometric test which would evaluate an interviewee’s cognitive skills.

“Therefore, I urge you students and undergraduates to equip yourself well before you go out into the real world,” he added.

Meanwhile the Dean of Unimas’ Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology Associate Professor Dr Johari Abdullah said that being among the first universities in Malaysia to fully implement the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average (iCGPA) assessment in all faculties, Unimas was able to measure and improve its students’ soft skills such as leadership abilities, communication skills and ethics under the Malaysian Qualifications Framework and as required by the industry standards.

He said the iCGPA is measured with values from 0 to 4.0, much like a traditional CGPA but with an extra criterion that would record the graduates’ achievement in terms of leadership and communication skills.

“That is actually very helpful to us as a university to help improve the students. Let’s say after two years and we see the iCGPA of a student, for example on communication skills, is below par or below 2.0, then we can do intervention whereby the student would be sent to additional intensive English courses and such, with the hope that upon graduation he or she would have improved to some satisfactory level,” said Johari.

He reminded the students that upon graduation and when they go out into the real world to seek for jobs, what they learned from their lectures would only be between 5 and 10 percent useful.

He added that today, industry players and employers want graduates to be able to adapt and learn new things fast because what they learned from universities or colleges were outdated.

“Especially Computer Science, because the cycle for computer science is not measured in months, but in weeks. Even the current cycle, or new things that come out, (the cycle) is actually 72 hours. Every 72 hours you will find new knowledge and inventions related to IT and computer science,” said Johari.

Johari added that this would be more so in Sarawak as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has made a call to move Sarawak from an economy based on natural resources to the digital economy.

“This is perfectly in line with that because one critical component for the digital economy is actually talent development.

“All of you I would say are very lucky because this kind of opportunity comes once in a lifetime. It isn’t for me or my generation as we have passed that age already, but for you students now,” he said. — DayakDaily