It’s Attitude, Not Aptitude That Really Matters

It has been said, by the Executive Director of the Malaysian Employers Federation, Tn Hj Shamsuddin Bardan (as an aside, strangely enough, the official MEF council page says that he is the Secretary);

“Basically, a degree is not a passport to a comfortable job”, he says. He points out that employment trends in Malaysia have changed tremendously in the past decade.

This is a timely comment by someone who is really in the industry beyond the political hoopla. Somehow I feel that it somehow relates to my previous post. Most Malaysian politicians know nothing about the industrial situation other than what was grapevined to them from not so reliable sources.

In the article, Tn Haji Shamsudin touches on issues such as training fresh grads, as well as how the syllabus of our public universities are not really synchronised with the real needs of the industry. Previously, whenever I think of this issue, I primarily put the fault on to the students. Many of them don’t really put much thought into what courses they want to take and for what reasons. Most just blindly accept the first offer that they get, eventhough it’s not something they’re interested in.

However, instead of being proactive with the suggestions made by Tn Haji Shamsudin, certain segments of the academia (in this case, the VC of UKM) went on the defensive;

“For example, we have one day a week dedicated to activities in English. The students even perform dikir barat in English”, he says.

The professor vehemently disagrees with the idea that private education institutions offer a more well-rounded education than public institutions and therefore guarantee better employment opportunities.

A similar response was given by the deputy VC of UTM when I attended their Career Fair dinner in February. It all started when a GM of Panasonic Malaysia (which was the main sponsor for the fair), suggested that universities (especially public universities) should focus more on the real needs of the industry. He also stated that most graduates are ignorant of industry news and happenings. They also never put in enough effort to find out more about the companies where they are applying work. This is all too true, in my experience.

The deputy VC didn’t take the message that well. Instead of listening to a sponsor (ie. a company which has provide funding for your project), he lamented instead on public universities cannot force student to participate in more industry related activities, especially if it doesn’t have an affect on the students’ GPA. He also says that public universities have much better academic personnel compared to private universities, the problem is just that students do not appreciate this fact because the fees of public universities are much lower than private ones. My initial thought when he said this was “WTF? So you want to keep manufacturing losers from your university?”.

Afterwards, I found out that this guy has said other dumb things as well… Heck, I’ve even had the honour to listen to one of his idiotic ramblings with my date for the night. Suffice to say it involves climbing a wall to reach your car when stairs are just 10 metres away.

That night, I lost all faith of Malaysian public universities. Hopefully, things will improve. Drastically.