Preparing students for future job market

Covid-19 has accelerated the use of technology, thus causing a rise in the need for digital-savvy graduates 

by AZALEA AZUAR 

MALAYSIA’S job market is expected to remain positive in 2023 after showing signs of improvement last year. 

According to MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd (MIDF Research), the country’s unemployment rate stayed at 3.6% in October last year and it forecasts the rate to skid further at an average of 3.5% on the back of an improving domestic economy — an uptick in tourism-related activities and higher output capacity in primary sectors — as commodity prices stay elevated. 

“Number of job vacancies declined to 343,000 in August from the peak point of 508,000 registered in June. 

“Even though the lowest since January, monthly average job vacancies for 2022 remain the highest at 435,500,” it said in a research note. 

Although the youth unemployment rate remains at a double-digit rate of 12.1% more than a two-year low, it is still higher compared to pre-pandemic levels and the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) attributed this issue to attitude. 

For instance, many fresh graduates in engineering are not sure which area to focus on as the field is very big and wide. 

“They are also not passionate in what they are doing which would be a problem in the competitive job market,” BEM said recently. 

Equipping Students with Digital Skillsets

University of Southampton Malaysia (UoSM) CEO Prof Rebecca Taylor felt that graduates nowadays need to equip themselves with digital skills. Therefore, the university has prepared programmes and facilities to incorporate digital skills in their students to meet the demands of the current job market. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of technology, thus causing a rise in the need for digital-savvy graduates. 

“The Malaysia Digital Economy Corp revealed that Malaysia’s digital job vacancies almost tripled from 19,000 in June 2020 to 56,000 in April 2021. 

“As technology continues to change the structure of the nation’s workforce, we see the need to equip students with the necessary digital skills to engage effectively and productively in their future careers,” she told The Malaysian Reserve. 

According to Taylor, govt hopes to enable both local and global students to access high-quality education in the country

Apart from equipping its students with digital skills, UoSM also teaches real-world experiences and a variety of soft-skills workshops. 

Its short-term soft-skills courses are free of charge to raise the employability level of its graduates which in turn, provides them with a strong career environment that prepares them for successful and rewarding careers. 

Earlier last year, UoSM launched its new campus at Eco Botanic in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, to accommodate 2,000 more students. 

The new campus — which measures 150,000 sq ft — has four electrical and electronics laboratories, an aerospace laboratory equipped with a wind tunnel, a design studio, a business experimental laboratory, a 12-terminal Bloomberg suite and a 10,000 sq ft library with an attached computer suite. 

Students also have more access to restaurants, cafes, shops and medical facilities located nearby. 

“We see Malaysia as the ideal location for expansion as the nation is an up-and-coming digital and innovative hub with global businesses increasingly on the hunt for highly skilled knowledge workers. 

“Furthermore, the education system in Malaysia has many similarities with the UK education system, which makes it much easier for us to operate in the country,” she added. 

Taylor hopes that the new campus not only attracts students from Singapore but also from the Asean region. 

UoSM’s new campus in Iskandar Puteri boasts an aerospace laboratory equipped with a wind tunnel (Pics source: southamptonmalaysia.edu.my)

Popular Study Destination for International Students

Due to being one of the most diverse nations in South-East Asia and its multilingual capacities, Malaysia is a popular choice study for international students. 

The country’s rich and diverse culture also provides an opportunity for international students to broaden their cultural horizons. 

“Some of the other advantages of studying in Malaysia include the relatively affordable cost of education and living, with the added advantage of affordable travel to explore the many tourist attractions in the country and around the region,” Taylor added. 

The South-East Asian region is also one of the most dynamic regions in the world where it offers great potential in technology sectors. 

This is due to its ideal economic structure, providing greater opportunities for higher education to meet future work demands. 

“Furthermore, in the 12th Malaysia Plan, quality education remains a priority as it forms the foundation for building a resilient economy. 

“The government hopes to enable both local and global students to access high-quality education in the country to produce future-ready talents,” Taylor mentioned. 

The expanded campus is an important milestone for UoSM’s international ambitions and success which enabled them to expand their selection of research-led programmes across engineering, computer science, business management, business analytics, business entrepreneurship, economics, finance, accounting and finance, marketing and actuarial science at the foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

UoSM is the university’s first international branch outside the UK. The campus was first launched within the EduCity development in Iskandar Puteri, in October 2012. 

Ten years later, it has expanded its new programme portfolio to 20 programmes across all levels and has introduced a stand-alone PhD programme. 

The university is also expected to launch its MBA programme next year, completing its academics offering. 


  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition