Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Addressing critical shortage of Chinese speaking tourist guides

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The critical shortage of Chinese speaking tourist guides in Sandakan and Tawau will be addressed urgently to prepare for the influx of Chinese tourists in near future.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said she will consider reviving the free tourist guide course provided by the ministry in the past but now suspended.

“I am surprised Sandakan and Tawau do not have enough Chinese speaking tourist guides,” noted Christina when the Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) committee members led by its chairman Dato’ Seri Winston Liaw paid a courtesy call at her office in Wisma Tun Fuad here on Thursday.

There will be job opportunities for Chinese speaking tour guides as we are looking towards promoting Tawau and Sandakan for the Chinese market, said Liaw.

“Our local tourist guides must at least acquire certain level of knowledge and understanding of the historical background of the attraction spots,” said Liaw.

Besides China market, Liaw said she also want to start promoting the Europe and Australia markets as Europeans tend to stay longer in their visits than the Chinese which is shorter.

During the meeting, Liaw also informed the minister that Shenzhen Airlines will launch its inaugural schedule flight in Oct this year between Kota Kinabalu and Shenzhen.

They are also keen to fly to Tawau and Sandakan, he added.

Liaw said SATTA has been working closely with the airlines companies for the past 20 years under the marketing development programme before it was abolished many years ago due to certain issues.

He assured SATTA will work closely with the ministry to further improve the tourism industry by coming up with new products and packages.


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Of student internship, its process and benefits

Saturday, July 7th, 2018
(File pix) UPSI intern (right) manning the registration desk at an event.

IN today’s competitive world, gaining employment is a tough task. To get a good job, one must possess both theoretical and practical knowledge as well as be an innovator and a team player.

At university, students apply theoretical knowledge gained at lecture halls and tutorials and from assignments into practical terms through internship programmes which comprise on-site work related to their discipline.

Nurul Nadia Rosli, a psychology officer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Career Development Centre (UKM-Karier), said the hands-on experience during internships helps to enhance students’ job readiness, career adaptability and workplace communication skills.

“At the same time, students are given the chance to identify and explore their career interests and opportunities in the job market. This increases graduate employability and productivity in terms of their contribution to the country’s growth and development,” she said.

UKM students either undergo internships after completing all semesters comprising academic classes or in between semesters. The duration of the internship depends on the field of study and may span six to 20 weeks.

“Academic credit is given for internship but should students have disciplinary issues or are unable to fulfil the requirements of the internship, they have to undergo it in the next semester,” she added.

UKM students apply for the internship themselves or with the help of the head of the programme.

“During this stage, students seek advice from their coordinators on the suitability of the selected company. After the selection, the faculty issues an application letter to the chosen company. Qualified candidates will be called for an interview at the company. Lastly, the faculty will issue a reply letter after an internship placement confirmation from the company,” added Nurul Nadia.

While some employers recruit students during the Integrated Internship and Career Day organised by UKM-Karier, students are free to find their own placements.

Associate Professor Dr Tengku Nor Rizan Tengku Mohd Maasum of UKM’s Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, who is in charge of the faculty’s internship/industrial training, said students go for internship in the final semester of the third year.

“Students identify their own placements and the programme facilitates the application. We also hold career fairs and industry road shows on campus where industries offer placements for internship.

“The basic criteria for employers include an established organisational structure, formal office space and co-workers for undergraduates to interact with. Payment and allowances are optional though encouraged,” said Tengku Nor Rizan.

Undergraduates are monitored via visits by the university lecturer, student log book, a final report prepared by the student and on-going and final evaluation by a supervisor at the industry. The internship period for the students of the faculty ranges from eight to 15 weeks, according to the requirements of the programme.

“The training provides opportunities for students to acquire workplace skills, enhance interpersonal communication, step up networking and hopefully get a greater chance to secure employment,” said Tengku Nor Rizan, adding that those who fail internship cannot graduate and are required to undergo internship again.


At Universiti Teknologi MARA’s Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, some students undergo internship more than once.

Alina Shuhaida Mohammad Ramly, head coordinator of practical training at the faculty, said: “For the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Culinary Arts Management programme, students undergo internship in the fourth semester under the Experiential Learning course and in the final semester under Culinary Internship. The duration for both is 12 weeks.”

“For programmes such as the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Tourism Management, Food Service Management and Hotel Management, a 12-week internship is scheduled during the semester six, the final semester.”

For each programme, the faculty applies for student placement in the industry based on the university-industry rapport built over the years. Students can also find placements through interviews carried out by companies which participate in “finishing school” programmes organised for final semester students.

The faculty does not require students be given an allowance.

“The evaluation from the industry counts as their marks. Culinary arts students undergo grading at a final practical exam post-internship,” added Alina Shuhaida.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), which focuses on education, requires students to undergo internship either in the form of teaching practice or industry attachment depending on their discipline.

Associate Professor Dr Nor’ashikin Mohd Idrus, director of the Centre for Teaching Practice and Industry at UPSI, said programmes at the university include Bachelor of Education (Major), Bachelor of Science (Major) with Education, Bachelor of Science (Major) and diploma courses.

“Bachelor of Education (Major) students undergo a Teaching Practice (TP) course, which is part of the graduation requirement at UPSI. It lasts 16 weeks (one semester) and students will undergo the course during semester seven (old structure) or eight weeks in semester six and another eight weeks in semester eight (new structure).

“Students also undergo the Teacher Apprenticeship Programme (TAP), which aims to provide an opportunity to understand the school as an educational institution and the role of teachers in class before going for TP. TAP consists of two phases: TAP 1 (two weeks) and TAP 2 (four weeks) which run during the semester two and semester four breaks respectively.”

For the Bachelor of Education (Major), Counselling programme, instead of TP, students undergo Internship Counselling at schools for 16 weeks. They need to apply the theory and the skill of counselling learnt at UPSI to solve cases at schools. In the 16 weeks, they have to fulfil a certain number of hours required by the Counseling Body of Malaysia to be eligible as certified counsellors.

For Bachelor of Science (Major) with Education programmes, in addition to TP and TAP, it is compulsory for students to undergo industrial training. “For example, for the Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) with Education programme, the duration of industrial training is eight weeks. It gives students the chance to practise the theory that they have learnt in real situations of the workplace,” said Nor’ashikin.

Bachelor of Science (Major) and Diploma students undergo industrial training during the last semester of studies. The duration ranges from eight weeks to 24 weeks depending on the programme.

“For teaching practice, the responsibility to find school placement falls on programme coordinators.

The Center for Teaching Practice and Industrial Training (PULAMI) provides the schools database to the coordinators. For industrial training, students are responsible for finding the organisation with the help of the PULAMI database and networking, and with the aid programme coordinators.”

During teaching practice, students are assessed based on their preparation for lessons, their teaching based on their preparation and their reflection after class. They are also assessed on their contribution to the school, their involvement in co-curriculum activities and their personality/ethics.

For industrial training, the student’s grade is given based on their daily task, special assignment, marks from industry supervisor and lecturer supervisor, and their final report.

“Some industries do offer jobs to the students even before they graduate. However, for some programmes, students cannot accept employment until they finish the final semester.

So UPSI plans to adjust the schedule for the teaching practice and industrial training,” added Nor’ashikin.


Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) School of Marine and Environmental Sciences (PPSMS) requires bachelor’s degree students from four programmes — Marine Biology, Marine Science, Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, and Biodiversity Conservation and Management — to undergo a 12-week internship at the end of the third or final year (sixth semester).

“Generally, during the fifth semester, students attend a series of briefings by the industrial training coordinators which focuses on how to communicate and find placement, write an e-mail or cover letter and attend an interview. They are also reminded about ethics and professionalism.”

The dean, Associate Professor Dr Marinah Mohd Ariffin, said: “At PPSMS, we have a record of companies/agencies which have accepted our students as industrial trainees.

We organise PPSMS Career Day and invite potential employers/agencies to share their experience and the requirements that undergraduate students need to meet.”

Some companies require certain skills from students, depending on their focus. For example, marine conservation centres require students to have a scuba diving licence with a minimum level of Advanced Scuba Diving. For internship at research institutes and agencies, certain laboratory skills are needed as well.


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Qualities of a credible chief secretary

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Speculation is rife as to who will succeed Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa. PIC BY MUHD ZAABA ZAKERI

WITH the impending retirement of Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, speculation is rife as to who will succeed him.

The choice of a successor will depend, among other things, on the suitability of the candidate in discharging the onerous role and responsibilities of the high office of the chief secretary to the government, or KSN, the Malay acronym.

The post is a much coveted one. Most senior public servants aspire to it not only for the prestige and monetary rewards it bestows on the office bearer. The position also offers a golden opportunity to an incumbent to spearhead substantive improvements to public services and thereby leave behind a lasting legacy. It is also the apogee of an illustrious public-service career.

The KSN’s role is a crucial one as it straddles the political-administrative divide. Akin to a tight-rope walker, the post requires a delicate balancing act between political impartiality and alliance with the political executive. In serving the political executive, the KSN should not be seen compromising the integrity and political neutrality of the public service. The post should not be so politicised that the KSN is seen to be partisan to the incumbent prime minister. Otherwise he may be unwelcome or unacceptable to the optics of an incoming government.

As the highest-ranking officer of the public service, the KSN wears many hats. As cabinet secretary, he is the lynchpin between the political executive and the public service. He is the principal channel of communication between the two institutions. In that capacity, he plays a significant role in ensuring that public administration is aligned to the strategic goals of the executive while the latter is made cognisant of the administrative capacity in delivering the government agenda.

As cabinet secretary, the KSN advises the cabinet on draft policies and decisions, especially of their administrative implications and viability. His administrative knowledge and experience carry much heft. These qualities not only help the KSN facilitate cabinet decision-making, they may even influence policy choices.

Upon cabinet approval, the KSN wears the hat of an implementer. He marshals the public service for executing those decisions. And, in the course of execution, he reports progress to the cabinet.

To discharge his functions as cabinet secretary effectively, the KSN helms the prime minister’s department — the biggest ministry in the public service. The prime minister’s department not only serves the office of the prime minister and the cabinet, but also oversees the administration of the public service.

Regular meetings with ministry heads enables the KSN to ensure smooth coordination across the administrative machinery. The forum also offers him a good opportunity to resolve inter-ministry disputes.

It behoves, therefore, that the KSN has a well-oiled administrative machinery where the best talents lead ministries and departments. As such, he oversees appointments, transfers and promotion of senior officers. As its leader, the KSN keeps afloat the discipline, motivation and morale of the public service while charting its strategic direction. He also has the demanding remit of making the public service tech-savvy, customer-centric and future-ready.

Given the considerable responsibility in managing the affairs of the state, it is important therefore that Ali’s successor is made with great care. If past appointments are an indication, the appointee will probably be one from among the department heads. He will have risen through the ranks of the public service, especially that of the administrative and diplomatic service — the elite service that runs the country’s public administration. He will have worked his way across the bureaucracy. Therefore, he will be knowledgeable of its rules, regulations and processes. He will have the institutional knowledge to be conversant with the public service culture. He will therefore be in good stead to effect a renaissance in public management that is expected by the new government.

He need not be the most senior person by service. Suffice that he is selected on merit while being senior enough to possess integrity, outstanding ability and vast experience. These qualities are essential if he is to command the respect and confidence of not only the prime minister, but also the cabinet, and service heads of all other public services.

That respect and confidence are also premised on the knowledge that the appointee shares the political executive’s vision for the nation, will advise without fear or favour, and deliver the outcomes expected from public policies.

This laundry list of the qualities required of a good KSN might seem like a tall order. But, given the demands of the job, these are the criteria that should invariably be employed in selecting the right candidate.


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Connected mobility industry to generate one million jobs

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

SERDANG: The Malaysian Automo­tive Institute (MAI) is targeting the connected mobility industry to create more than one million jobs within a five-year period.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari said the target was based on a preliminary research on the ecosystem of the industry which was seen to be growing.

“The connected mobility was targeted to undergo transformation from a product to a service in the long term and thus open up business opportunities and employment for the groups taking this opportunity.

“For example, the Grab or e-hailing service forms one of the branches where we use a vehicle as direct contact via the handphone,” he said when met after a roadshow programme Connected Mobility and the launch of the Malaysian Auto Exhibition 2018 here yesterday.

The connected mobility referred to any form of transportation, service and infrastructure which operates through Internet access.

Meanwhile, the deputy dean of International, Industrial and Institutional Partnership (IIIP), Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysia France Institute, Dr Zalhan Zin said the industry not only created new jobs but could also generate the economy.

“The scope of occupations will be wider and more sophisticated in line with Industrial Revolution 4.0.

“The university must be prepared to practise new technological elements in the syllabus, increase industrial network, give exposure to the connected mobility concept in order to produce graduates who have appropriate knowledge and skills for the technology to fill up new as well as conventional occupations,” he said.


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Multi-disciplinary degree to prepare for working world

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia freshmen taking their oath during orientation week. Today’s market demands.

THE demands on graduates entering the working world are different today.

Other than recruiting those with deep and specialised knowledge, employers are also on the lookout for employees who can hit the ground running, solve problems on the fly and multi-task. They want those who are versatile, resilient and eloquent, have multi-disciplinary knowledge, and the list goes on.

And these are the traits that Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) aims to mould in its undergraduates.

The university’s newly-unveiled Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (BSLS), which will commence this September (the first semester of the 2018/2019 academic year), has what UKM terms as a future-focused curriculum — one that is cross-disciplinary with flexible study structure.

Conducted by its Pusat Citra Universiti, the degree exposes students to solid multi-disciplinary lessons in humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and the arts, subsequently allowing them to pursue diverse careers ranging from manufacturing, tourism, human resource, finance and takaful; all the way to logistics, communications and public service.

UKM Vice-Chancellor Professor Tan Sri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali outlines the uniqueness of the BSLS programme.

Noor Azlan Ghazali

“The norm is when a student enrols in a degree course, he will go straight into a specific field of study. The four-year BSLS programme has a different approach.

“You tell us what you want to be, and we will guide you to your goal. That means our role is more focused on helping students realise their dreams.

“In this programme, we no longer have too-rigid borders, but can craft a degree that cuts across faculties,” said Noor Azlan.

To illustrate this, he gives the following example: “Say a student wants to enter the halal food industry, there is the halal, food science and marketing components to study. He can pursue all three components in one degree programme. The faculties teaching the components will sit down with the student to enable him to complete that degree.”

The BSLS is born out of Pusat Citra Universiti’s general studies programme.

It is in line with the Higher Education Ministry’s recommendation for UKM to incorporate liberal studies and multi-disciplinary education in its programmes.

The university management had set up a task force to carry out research and workshops in 2012, roping in multinational companies, small-and medium-scale enterprises, government agencies, non-government organisations, students and lecturers for feedback.

Among the areas of discussion was the main attributes that every student should have.

As a result, the university came up with four compulsory courses for — Basic entrepreneurship and innovation, Islamic and Asian civilisation, Ethnic relations and soft skills — which they must pass.

There are also Citra Education courses under six domains, which students from all faculties can choose to take.

The six domains are ethics, citizenship & civilisation; language, communication & literacy; quantitative and qualitative; leadership, entrepreneurship & innovation; science, technology and sustainability; and, family, health and lifestyle.

“For other degrees, students have been taking these courses as components of their programme in the last four years.

“But this year, the courses are to be taken as part of a degree programme for students enrolled in BSLS.

“It is a ‘buffet’ programme. You enter into a guided ‘buffet’, where you decide on the courses you want to take, and we come and coach you,” said Noor Azlan.

The BSLS is a “2u2i” (two years university and two years industry) programme that takes four years to complete. Each student will be guided by an academic adviser.

The first year is focused on completing 30 credits of compulsory courses, which include data analysis and management, as well as the Pusat Citra Universiti courses, said centre director Professor Dr Khaidzir Ismail.

“We have chief executive officers coming over to give talks to provide students exposure on various businesses and industries.” — Khaidzir Ismail, UKM Pusat Citra Universiti director

For the second year, students will focus on an area of specialisation that fits their personal and career goals.

“Students will undergo a psychometric test before choosing a major, and will be assigned a mentor. We have chief executive officers coming over to give talks to provide students exposure on various businesses and industries,” Khaidzir said, adding that Pusat Citra Universiti will be coordinating the logistics and scheduling with faculties.

During the third year, students will undergo community or industry-based training.

“There will be several industrial stints to expose students to working life in companies or communities,” said Khaidzir.

In the final year, students will undertake an industry-based project, community-based report or produce a thesis.


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Winning solution for future employment

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018
Adrina and Woon promoting WeCruited on campus.

Employers are in constant need of talent, but the hiring process is costly and time-consuming.

With interviews, there are layers of approvals, mounds of paperwork as well as negotiations, so opting for temporary or part-time hires has become a more ideal option. Combined with a volatile economy over the last few years that has led to the rise of layoffs and voluntary separation schemes, temporary employment provides organisations with greater flexibility in hiring only when absolutely necessary.

The availability of part-time positions addresses the challenges that students face in seeking industry experiences beyond traditional internships prior to graduation. Such opportunities may be the key to the decline in graduates who are well equipped to meet industry demands.

These are among considerations during a conversation at a class pizza party, which brought two millennial minds together with the hope of changing the future of employment.

Diana Woon Jia Hui (left) and Adrina Adam, founders of WeCruited

Diana Woon Jia Hui and Adrina Adam of the Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) degree programme at INTI International College Subang recognise these needs and established WeCruited — a platform that enables students to discover their passion while aiding employers to source and hire quality talent at competitive costs.

The brain child of Woon, WeCruited stemmed from a 2016 business pitch challenge in which she participated. It aimed to provide students with part-time event-related job experiences. This expanded into securing part-time internships, full-time internships and mentorship programmes online after a surge of demand came from employers and students.

“As college students, we saw an opportunity to help fellow students gain industry experiences by working part-time in relevant fields while studying.

“Beyond the perks of earning side income, students are able to understand industry needs and learn a variety of work cultures before graduating.

“Our vision is to normalise the idea of part-time internships. We hope to kick-start a culture of working college students who are well equipped (with relevant skills) by the time they enter the workplace as full-time employees,” said Adrina, who is completing her final semester in a Business Studies degree programme.

Through their own efforts, the duo have collaborated with over 50 employers from small- and medium-sized enterprises to start-up companies and connected them with over 150 students, keen to take on any available part-time jobs. These part-time jobs usually involve a 15 to 20 hour working arrangement per week, customisable according to the employer’s needs over a three-month period.

Woon sharing the story behind WeCruited.

In seven months, these young entrepreneurs have secured 15 internship positions (both part-time and full-time) and are hiring for companies, such as SupplyBunny and Offpeak. They managed to bring onboard mentors from prominent companies, such as WeWork and Airbnb, to assist students in their professional development, networking and soft-skills development.

“We are excited for the future of WeCruited and hope to expand our business to connect employers and graduates for full-time opportunities. At present, we are focusing efforts towards connecting university and college students to employers for part-time internships. These opportunities allow students to discover their passion earlier, regardless whether they are on semester break or still studying.

“Employers are able to hire quality talent as WeCruited handles the sourcing of candidates, filtering of resumes based on requirements provided and scheduling of interview sessions.

“All this, and we charge only a one-off payment based upon successful hiring. We believe our services will bring value to employers and help students explore their talents, potential and develop new skills along the way,” said Woon, who is in her third year of the same programme as Adrina.


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Five-month pregnant civil servants can now leave work an hour early

Friday, December 29th, 2017
Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Zainal Rahim Seman. NSTP file pic/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR
By NAZURA NGAH - December 23, 2017 @ 3:43pm

KUALA LUMPUR: Beginning January 1, female public servants who are five months into their pregnancy will be allowed to leave work an hour earlier.

The special facility will be given to all permanent and contract staff including those currently serving the state public service, statutory bodies and local authorities.

These women will be able to leave one hour earlier from their designated working hours. This can also be applied to their husband, provided the couple works in the same vicinity.

The implementation of the special facility is for the purpose of safeguarding the welfare and safety of female civil servants as stated in the Public Service Circular No 11 of 2017, which was issued Friday and approved by the Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Zainal Rahim Seman.

The circular further clarifies ‘in the same vicinity’ as husband and wife who are working in the same building, complex or area, thus allowing the couple to ride in the same vehicle to return home from work.

The circular also state that previously the female civil servants were granted maternity leave and child care leave.

According to the circular, these civil servants are permitted to use the facility at any time when they are into their fifth month or 22 weeks and above of pregnancy.


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Moulding graduates to meet industry requirements

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
Vocational training comprising of apprenticeship in companies starts at 16 in Switzerland.

TODAY’s job market is highly competitive and feedback from employers tend to show that the potential workforce being produced by the higher education sector are incapable of totally filling up the available vacancies.

If this is true, why is it so and how can graduates be ensured of gaining employment after completing studies at the university or other types of institutions of higher education?

Technology and knowledge today develops at Internet speed so it is not uncommon for things that are learned during the course of a programme to become obsolete once students have graduated from the university, requiring them to be trained yet again by the employers upon joining the workforce.

Faced with this kind of situation, it is best that the education sector and the industry work together closely to produce the workforce required — starting from a pre-university stage, said Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) Board chairman Dr Philippe Gnaegi.

“We have a very long tradition in Switzerland where 70 per cent of students in the upper secondary education system follow vocational training. This starts at 16 where they spend 3.5 days of the week working at companies — large and small — from various industries and 1.5 days at school. The arrangement has worked well and we have a very low unemployment rate — less than three per cent,” he said.

He was facilitating a roundtable discussion on “Is it an institution’s responsibility to build industry relationships?” at the recent BETT Asia 2017 held in Kuala Lumpur.

SFIVET is Switzerland’s expert organisation for vocational education and training. It provides basic and continuous training to VET professionals, conducts VET research, contributes to the development and continuous updating of training plans for specific occupations and supports international cooperation in vocational education and training.

Elaborating further on the Swiss vocational education system, Gnaegi said the students undergoing apprenticeship are paid for the work done at the companies. Employers, on the other hand, have a talent pipeline of skilled professionals who will be potentially transitioned in to the labour market.

“The apprenticeship lasts for three to four years where students are assessed both by the state — for the education part — and also from the private sector. Students have to get two sets of assessment to continue their studies. However, they would move on to our professional universities, not academic-based ones,” he said.

“We think that not everybody has to go to academic universities as it depends on their inclination. In most countries, the very intelligent students go to academic universities. We don’t practice that and don’t believe in discrimination. Very intelligent children are also in the vocational stream,” he said.

Gnaegi remarked that both systems have a curricula and national qualification designed by the social partners comprising state associations, companies and training organisations, and the state invests substantially in research, evaluation and quality control.

“The industry and the state often meet to examine the effectiveness of the vocational education system and solve any problems should they arise. The challenge for SFIVET is to get more companies to buy-in into the programme and match the needs of the labour market, both in terms of professional qualifications and the number of jobs available,” he said.

Malaysia Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who attended the discussion, said that he was impressed with the Swiss vocational education system, how it works and intends to take a closer look.

“Of course, not everything is applicable here in our country. But the close ties and relationship between the industry and education system is commendable in terms of facilitating graduate employment. We are one in this aim — the public and private sectors — and therefore, must work together,” he said.


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Industry experts enhance learning

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
Adjunct Professor lecture series with Nik Hasyudeen Yusoff at the Faculty of Business and Accountancy in UM.

UNIVERSITIES are increasingly emphasising closer ties with the industry and its professionals to keep up with the challenging role of preparing graduates for the workplace.

Guest lecturers, specifically practising industry professionals, frequently teach and share experiences with undergraduates and postgraduate students doing research.

Where subjects have close ties to the industry, seminar-style lectures by a diverse range of professionals are seen as a more desirable way to introduce tertiary students to the disciplines.


University of Malaya’s Faculty of Business and Accountancy senior lecturer Dr Zarina Zakaria said academia-industry involvement has been ongoing at the institution for quite some time.

Named as Practitioners’ Sharing Sessions, the initiative is significant as it brings the real-world situation faced by those in practice into the classroom.

UM Faculty of Business and Accountancy senior lecturer Zarina Zakaria.

“It exposes students to the practical aspects and, to a certain extent, the know-how so that they will be able to translate theories and concepts into practice.

“This has enhanced students’ understanding of various topics,” said Zarina.

She believes that teaching and learning cannot be achieved in silo as both must acknowledge the ecosystem — by recognising the significance of systems, skills and processes — and industry experts need to share real-life processes with students.

“Talks by industry professionals in various fields and of special expertise enhance the learning process,” she added.

The faculty has also appointed former Securities Commission Malaysia’s market and corporate supervision executive director Nik Hasyudeen Yusoff as adjunct professor.

His area of expertise is in accounting; he has 23 years of industry experience and international exposure to financial reporting and auditing. He is currently Innovastra Capital Sdn Bhd director.

“Nik Hasyudeen is one good example of industry professionals who can relate their experiences for the benefit of undergraduates. His lectures are relevant to his profession, with real-life examples of the workplace,” she added.

A fellow of CPA Australia and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and Malaysian Institute of Accountants, he also sits on the Advisory Board at the Faculty of Business and Accountancy at UM.

“Recently, the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance held a forum panel

on the topic, Board Effectiveness: The Role

of Audit Committees, with students,” added Zarina.

“This event enabled us to bring the boardroom to the classroom. Panel members, who are also board members, shared how directors interact with the management.

“Likewise, we invite corporations to discuss topics such as transfer pricing, auditing of specialised industries, fraud audit as well various financial and management accounting issues.

“Most industry professionals volunteer

their time and get to know the students in the process. For example, the Big 4 Public Accounting Firms have been offering students book prizes, internships and permanent job offers.

“The sessions enable the firms to get students’ feedback on the reason why they regard them as their employers of choice.

“In return, students learn of their expectations at the workplace. They visit the industry to expose themselves to the real work situation and get a feel of the environment.

“The presence of industry professionals in undergraduate teaching is a good avenue to foster a better relationship between the industry, academia and students.”

UM realises the importance of balancing soft and hard skills because it is one of

many ways to prepare students for the workplace.

“They need to be exposed to emerging topics in their area of studies and industry experts share with students how to deal with challenges in practice.

“Students can’t be spoon-fed in the workplace. They need to take charge. We

can put academia-industry collaboration in place but, at the end of the day, it is all up to them.”


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Adjunct Professor Zulkifli Abd Rani said one way

for higher education institutions in the

country to bridge the gap between

academia and industry is to increase the involvement of industry professionals at universities.

Zulkifli believes that this prepares graduates to be market-ready and secure employment within six months after graduation.

The country’s economy is expected to grow at a fast pace in the future, and the education sector will expand in tandem with rapid industrialisation.

“It will require a bigger workforce and open up job opportunities in the future.

“However, despite promising days ahead, many of our graduates are still unemployable,” he said.

While there is no easy solution to the problem, there are several ideas worth pursuing.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Adjunct Professor Zulkifli Abd Rani.

Based on his 27 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and having served it in three capacities as an operator, contractor and regulator, Zulkifli added there is a mismatch between the curriculum and industry needs and academia aspirations.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Machines taking over our jobs? Academics weigh in on the issue.

Friday, December 1st, 2017

THE World Economic Forum’s warning that five million jobs could disappear in five years because of advances in technology sounds like robots are taking over the world.

In a report published early 2016, the WEF said that developments in artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology would disrupt the business world in a similar way to previous industrial revolutions, with administrative and white collar office jobs most at risk, according to a CNN report.

New skill sets that are relevant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution were explored at the forum, as it looked at how disruptive technology has impacted the higher education industry and traditional fields like law, medicine, science, business, finance, accounting and construction.

The roundtable was attended by Management Development Institute of Singapore (Malaysia campus) CEO Prof Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia provost-CEO Prof Roger Barton, University of Reading Malaysia provost Prof Tony Downes, Iskandar Investment Berhad president-CEO Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad, University of Southampton Malaysia interim CEO Prof Peter Smith, and Raffles University Iskandar president Prof Dr Graeme Britton. Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh was the moderator.

Disruptive technology is not a new phenomenon, the panellists say. While disruptive technology has brought change, and with it the fear that manual jobs are disappearing, Prof Britton foresees that there will be new opportunities as well.

“When computers came, people said it would run the world and we’d be out of jobs. But computers have created more jobs instead,” he says.

Prof Smith says that quantum computing and quantum technologies will transform what we do in the future, and “we are at an early stage of a revolution to create new companies and new industries.”

The consensus among the roundtable panellists is that adaptability and resilience are key attributes a fresh graduate should possess in order to forge successful careers in a rapidly-changing world where disruptive technology constantly influences how things are done.

“Skills that they use immediately after leaving university may be redundant further down their careers,” says Prof Downes. “What’s essential is for graduates to have an ability to continue to learn. This will be key to their success in the future.”

Because globalisation and technological development are realities of life, Dr Syed Ahmad says “we should not resist or reject them, but manoeuvre around them to get the best advantage.”

Sharing his observations from the construction industry today, Khairil says innovations and technology are being harnessed to address some of the disruptive developments taking place. He cites the shortage of skilled workers which has compelled the industry to automate certain functions and processes, resulting in industrialised building systems that depend less on on-site work.

In the field of medicine, Prof Barton says that it is all digital. “Many will see its impact on medicine as a positive one, for it facilitated quicker and better healthcare. It enables rather than disrupts,” he says.


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