THE hard truth is that there is no guarantee a fresh graduate can find cushy office jobs. Nowadays, jobs are scarce due to the tough economic conditions. Every year, an estimated 290,000 university students graduate from higher learning institutions. Unfortunately, only one in five is gainfully employed. There are job opportunities if one is willing to take up the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs.

Many of our fresh graduates remain unemployed for about six months after graduation and with an average age of 24, the unemployed ones come from social science, business and law background while those with a degree in electrical engineering are also in the same boat.

Some are employed by the Penang Island City Council sweeping roads, while others work as despatch riders or in a bookstore.

We have even read of new trainee doctors who have to wait for a year before they are given a two-year contract. There is no guarantee the trainee doctor will be absorbed for there are limited vacancies in the civil service.

The unemployed fresh graduate statistics showed 35 per cent are from social science, business and law; 24.1 per cent from engineering, manufacturing and construction; and 11.3 per cent from science, mathematics and computing.

On top of that our universities are not producing graduates with the appropriate curriculum that the industries need. There is a skills mismatch with employers prioritising soft skills and work experience. Besides there is a low take up for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among graduates.

However, many of these graduates lack entrepreneurship skills which creates a dim career path for them. Now with the dawn of the industrial revolution 4.0, there is a shift in demand for digital skills with greater emphasis on upskilling and reskilling of employees, with top skilled jobs sought by prospective employers in digital marketing, e-commerce, big data analytics and database management.

Employers at the workplace are looking for graduates who have problem-solving and decision-making skills, communication skills, ability to work independently, willingness to learn and grow and capable of working under stress. These are what prospective employers are looking for in a graduate.


© C. SATHASIVAM SITHERAVELLU | Seremban, Negri Sembilan