Friday, March 25, 2005

Common Malady

The haze and 80,000 unemployed graduates pretty much sums up the headlines in the local papers this week. Bush fire in Sepang and Dengkil is suffocating the Klang Valley. Oh yes, the dogs that attacked a kid was a major thing in the tabloids (ie. My lunchtime reading material Malay Mail. It is about the only time I get to be brainless).

Anyway, the 80,000 unemployed graduates brought about this question from the radio station I was listening to Wednesday morning. One particular caller said this, he believes in the school of hard knocks, as in you don’t need the paper qualification but rather, you need the experience. But when asked if his children has problems when subscribing to this principle, he said that unfortunately they have problems getting jobs since they don’t have paper qualification. And he went on criticising how employers in Malaysia are only interested in paper qualification.

I think that is an old school of thought. I think it is about a base level society sets. The base level happens to be higher now as educational opportunities has been growing. You only need one credit in SPM to enter colleges. That is really, really easy. Especially with how kids are scoring straight As nowadays.

I particularly do not subscribe to the idea that one is better than the other when comparing paper qualification and work experience. The richness or quality of the qualification and experience is determining factor.

Getting a job is about impression. The impression you give on paper, your resume is the first step. Then they would want to meet you, to reconcile the paper with you, the person. If all goes well, you’ll get the job.

I think we have a serious problem at hand. We need to ask ourselves why these people are considered unemployable. We need to be sure that whatever training scheme we plan to spend money on can really help. I’ve had the opportunity of working with people under such schemes, and sad to say they were truly disappointing work wise. They were barely able to string a report together, and they can barely speak in English. On paper, they looked ok. In person, it was a problem. The technical knowledge they have or even quick common sense was severely lacking. There was a gem among these trainees, but she took up the scheme just as the interim as she has just moved here. Eventually, as expected, she found a permanent job. I’m not sure about the rest.

This malady not only befalls local graduates, although I get the impression that the situation is heavier on the local graduates. Foreign graduates may come home with a degree but surprisingly, some of their language skills can be below par and their maturity seem no better than those not exposed to living on their own.

Perhaps this a generational malaise, affecting those who have had poor basics in schools. But I think it is more of an attitude problem than anything else. The desire and want to improve oneself.


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