Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Malaysian youths want careers that make a difference

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
A NEW breed of talents are entering the job market and they want meaningful careers that can lead to a better tomorrow.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said it’s a trend among fresh graduates to join green and socially responsible companies.

Millennials, he said, see themselves as socially responsible individuals with the potential to change the world.

Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said its members have also noted a similar trend – particularly among the post-millennial generation of students who are now entering university and joining the workforce.

“These youths have a greater sense of keenness to make a difference and to make an impact.

“We see an increasing number of students joining social enterprises where they can build careers while using their skills to help society.”

The trend, he said, cuts across all programmes.

Technology graduates look at this as an opportunity to develop innovative solutions to address societal needs, while business and finance graduates work towards enhancing community involvement among those who were previously left out of mainstream economic activity, he said.

“It’s exciting and gratifying to see students from different countries working together to address problems from all over the world.

“Being in an integrated, international campus creates strong global mindsets,” he said.
(From left): Eric Bryan Amaladas, Shamsuddin Bardan, Kamilia Ghazali and Pamjit Singh

(From left): Eric Bryan Amaladas, Shamsuddin Bardan, Kamilia Ghazali and Pamjit Singh
Universiti Malaya (UM) deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Dr Kamila Ghazali said students are increasingly interested in working with non-governmental organisations and policy reform organisations.

Millennials, she said, tend to gravitate towards jobs that impact society or certain segments of the community.

“Our students are concerned about social and cultural changes as a result of political and economic situations and issues on equality and inclusively.

“They seem to be taking up jobs that can effect change.”

This, she said, could be the result of the varsity’s curriculum which emphasises community engagement and volunteerism.

“In the current curriculum review that’s taking place, we introduced the Student Holistic Environment (SHE) programme which will inculcate a holistic worldview among our students beyond their own majors.”

SHE courses are categorised into four clusters: thinking matters; emotional, physical and spiritual intelligence; technology/artificial intelligence and data analytics; and global issues and community sustainability.

Among the job considerations of this new breed of talents, said Shamsuddin, is their perceived fit with the organisation.

“Much of a job applicant’s initial attraction to an organisation is based on the company’s image.

“Companies with a reputation for being more responsible are more attractive to jobseekers who want to contribute to a better world.”

Another pull factor may be the social role that the job affords them, for example, allowing them to help their local communities.

“An attractive salary is important but it is not the only factor that jobseekers look for.

“Organisations with good standing on social responsibility and environmental sustainability are increasingly being considered as these factors can motivate and give employees a sense of pride,” said Shamsuddin.

Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa (YSS) former chairman Datuk Zuraidah Atan said the new Cambridge International survey (see graphics) reflects today’s workforce.

“YSS was set up by the Government to promote volunteerism among students.

“We remind our youths not to romanticise the hard work that goes into addressing global issues but all our volunteer leaders are passionate and have participated in movements that make a difference.”

Business administration and resource management graduate Irdina Batrisyia Riza Adami joined YSS as a management trainee.

The 23-year-old wants to build student capacity through volunteerism, which led her to YSS.

CAREERsense@HELP director Eric Bryan Amaladas said these days, employers and employees are on the same page when it comes to social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

“We’re seeing more fresh graduates aspire to contribute to society through the careers that they pick.

“But the trend is more evident in the urban areas. Those in the rural areas tend to be more concerned about whether they can make a good living.”

He, however, said it did not mean that everyone was rushing out to join Green Peace.

The little things, like whether their prospective employer adopts socially responsible initiatives at the work place, are among the factors youngsters today take into consideration when looking for a job.

Bebiyana Bidin, 24, is a clinical dietitian in Tawau, Sabah. Currently pursuing a Master’s in Community Nutrition, she is specialising in food insecurity among communities in rural Malaysia.

“My boarding school friends are children of farmers and rubber tappers so they only got proper nutrition at the hostel.

“When I was volunteering at an orphanage, I realised that the majority of the children there weren’t orphans.

“Parents who couldn’t afford to support all their children, sent some of them to orphanages for a better life and an education.

“Both these experiences gave me an insight into the struggles faced by the poor.”

She hopes to make a career from helping these communities.

Youths today are more aware and assertive in environmental, climate and global issues, according to the UCSI Group Corporate Affairs.

UCSI University, it said, facilitates and helps students develop their passion through its sustainable development goals.

“Our programme modules are constantly revised so that our graduates are able to frame ideas to solve global challenges across sectors,” the Group said.

Mechanical engineering student Soh Soon Yew, 21, wants to work on innovations that can improve safety, reliability and functionality, in the automative industry.

“I want to make better quality and cheaper products that are accessible to everyone.”

Liew Seow Peng, 22, who’s studying actuarial science and finance, wants to use his knowledge to serve the underprivileged.

“My internship exposed me to an urban poor financial inclusion and credit access project. I want to make things better.”

Job trend spotting: boon or bane?

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
It is very difficult to keep up with job trends as it is constantly shifting and evolving. Pic source:

BEING aware of job trends is indeed a good quality to have when preparing for the future but it should not be the sole basis upon which career choices are made.

Job trends constantly change; roles that are in demand today may very well become obsolete in the next decade.

According to Haida Tahir, director of Contingent Workforce Central at Kelly Services, it is important that university students choose a course that they are passionate about and that the course being offered is holistic.

“Well-structured courses prepare students for the real world, equipping them with skills that allow them to think critically, be flexible and adaptable to changes that they will face when they enter the workforce.

“Fresh graduates with these skills are capable of evolving through their career, even allowing them to transition into roles that they may not have studied for but are prepared to handle nonetheless. I believe having these skills would help university students market themselves far better than having awareness about job trends,” she said.

Citing the IT sector as an example, Haida said that there is no doubt that there is a clear growth trend within the IT sector thanks to the wave of digital transformation that hit the globe in recent years and that experts in this sector are increasingly sought after by businesses in Malaysia and around the globe.

However, it is very difficult to keep up with job trends as it is constantly shifting and evolving.

Haida Tahir.

“Those in the IT sector can help contribute to the digitisation of their business, which in turn helps them avoid getting digitally disrupted whilst tapping into a whole new market. But new roles that require unique skill sets are being created every day, influenced by economic change, technological development and societal changes.

“Therefore, university students need to look inward and ask themselves if they have all the skills that employers are looking for in this day and age. Are they agreeable to learning new skills? Can they cope with changes in technology? Are they capable of thinking critically? This is how students can differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd and meet the demands of today’s employers.”

Haida pointed out that there is a need for higher education institutions to tailor their courses to meet industry standards, regardless of subject or degree.

“The challenge that many employers face when recruiting fresh graduates is that these candidates often appear to be rather unaware of what is happening in the industry they are joining. While this is not a deal breaker for most employers, fresh graduate candidates that have an awareness of the industry easily stand out from the crowd.

Higher education institutions, Haida said, should therefore consider partnering with industry players to help students gain practical experience and understanding on what matters most to employers, before stepping into the workforce.

“I believe that higher education institutions, with strong partnerships with industry players, can create high quality students who will have no trouble joining the workforce upon graduation.”

By Rozana Sani.

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Emerging job trends

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Youths need to engage with the working world to better understand the direction employment opportunities are taking and strategise their future careers. – Pic source: Freepik

WE often hear of how fresh university graduates are unable to get jobs due to a misalignment of qualifications with current market demands.

Skills that they acquire when studying are often obsolete even before they enter the job market.

With predictions of a bulk of present jobs disappearing in the future, the situation is set to worsen if their eyes are not trained on what the future holds in terms of emerging and future job trends.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in its recent report, Dream Jobs: Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work, cited that “at a glance, it is clear that it is overwhelmingly jobs with origins in the 20th century or earlier that are most attractive to young people”.

The report, based on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 data, analyses changes (or lack of) of career aspirations of young people — specifically 15-year-olds — since 2000.

Traditional jobs like doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, businessmen remain among the top of their lists although there are emerging jobs that they should also look to for a promising future.

In the report, OECD director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher said it is of concern that labour market signals are failing to reach young people and that “many young people anticipate pursuing jobs that are at high risk of being automated”.

This would give an impact on the job market in terms of human capital that is needed in years to come.

Youths need to engage with the working world to better understand the direction employment opportunities are taking and strategise their future careers.

To help young people better understand the direction employment opportunities are taking and strategise their future careers, Higher ED highlights five emerging jobs that are categorised as among the in-demand future careers in the job market not only in Malaysia but also in countries around the world.

By having a view of emerging job trends, it is hoped that students would be inspired to draw up study plans and select career choices and pathways as early as schooling years up to university level that will ensure success in future careers and work environments.

Many of the fastest growing jobs and predicted future ones are driven by technology development, increased Internet connectivity, rapid globalisation and new business demands.

Tech skills are required in jobs across industries in different roles and functions and this is expected to create demand for tech-based or tech-related jobs.

Jobs like artificial intelligence specialists and data scientists are required across industries to help organisations and businesses be more efficient in delivering their products and services, and be more responsive to customer demands in anticipated increased competition.

Existing jobs like content creators are now being taken to the next level and being given new dimensions by technology to reach a wider audience through multiple channels and platforms.

New jobs like privacy officers cater to the privacy and security concerns of personal data being put on commercial platforms driven by the popularity of e-commerce


Seen here is the Intelligent and Interactive Advertising Panel, that can recognise gender and age by using face recognition technology and deep learning; a project by Universiti Malaya AI specialist Associate Professor Dr Chan Chee Seng with his industry partner.

Although artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time, the field is still in its infancy and has only recently started to gain momentum.

AI, said Associate Professor Dr Norisma Idris, is a branch of computer science that aims to create intelligent machines that mimic human intelligence.

“There are varying kinds and degrees of intelligence in people such as decision-making, reasoning, language understanding and learning. AI tries to understand and model intelligence as a computational process. The ultimate effort is to make computer programs that can solve problems and achieve goals in the world as well as humans,” said the head of Department of Artificial Intelligence at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology.

“Most of AI specialists work in applied AI to program smart systems that can think like humans. For example, to recognise a face (face recognition), address questions or instructions (chatbot) and solve problems.

“AI specialists mostly work at research centres of universities, small AI development companies, banking sectors, automotive industries, healthcare facilities and government agencies,” said Norisma.

There are many sub-areas of AI such as Fuzzy Logic, Neural Network, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Many of the popular recent applications of AI in industry have been based on Machine Learning (ML), which gives computers the ability to learn, improve business decisions, increase productivity, detect disease, forecast weather, etc.”

Currently, the most hot-trend application is Sentiment Analysis, a type of text mining or text analysis which can be used to review products for business, predict highs and lows of stock markets, and identify views expressed by people in political debates.

Norisma said maths and science are important for those who want to go into AI as these form the backbone of most AI programs.

On top of that, they need to acquire knowledge and skills on Cognitive Science, Machine Learning, Neural Computing, Robotics and Natural Language Processing.

“Currently, most AI specialists have Master or Doctoral degrees (PhD) specialising in any AI fields. However, due to the current demands from the industry, AI specialists can be those who have a Bachelor Degree with AI as their specialisation,” said Norisma.


Advancement in technology and usage has turned drones into strategic tools requiring personnel like drone technologists.

Drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are often regarded as big boys’ toys.

But development in UAS technology has made individuals, commercial entities and governments realise that drones have multiple and even strategic uses.

Universiti Malaysia Perlis Centre of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Systems (COEUAS) director Professor Dr Hazry Desa said drones these days come in many forms, divided into classes, size, range and capacity for autonomous flight.

Most are controlled remotely by a human pilot on the ground. Some can fly along pre-set coordinates or patterns, or land if they lose contact with the pilot.

As such they can be used in agriculture solutions like precision crop monitoring, aerial photography and videography for journalism and film, law enforcement and border control surveillance, unmanned cargo transport, and aerial mapping and survey.

Hazry said that to advance further in the area, Malaysia must develop its own drone technology and drone technologists.

“We cannot rely on the technology of others or else we will always become followers. It is not necessary for drone technologists to understand how to build the drone in depth. More importantly, they have to understand how to repair or maintain the drone and use the drone according to the requirement of safety standards.

“To use the drone, it is necessary to know how to fly the drone as well as process data that is acquired in when utilising the drone. Apart from collecting and understanding the data, they also must be able to analyse the data,” he said.

To become a drone technologist, acquiring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licence is a basic requirement to become a certified UAS operator in certain countries.

“It is also important to understand mechatronics engineering, which includes knowledge in computer and electrical engineering.

“Other important knowledge includes videography if you want to make a corporate video; Geographic Information System (GIS ) and Photogrammetry if you want to become an aerial surveyor; and image processing or pattern recognition if you want to be involved in aerial inspection,” he said.


Data scientists help organisations make data-driven decisions.

Mention the word scientist and the image that comes to mind is someone sitting in a lab conducting research in natural or physical sciences for the betterment of life.

These days, another category of scientist is emerging — data scientist.

According to Dr Ho Chiung Ching, dean and senior lecturer at Multimedia University’s Faculty of Computing and Informatics, a data scientist is “someone who knows how to extract meaning from and interpret data”.

“He or she spends a lot of time on collecting, cleaning and munging data because a data is never clean. This process requires persistence, statistics and software engineering skills.

“Once he or she gets the data into shape, a crucial part is exploratory data analysis, which combines visualisation and data sense.The data scientist will help an organisation make data-driven decisions, as well as make sense of the data owned by the organisation in order to derive hidden insights, which can be used to drive activities that are profitable, or activities that will benefit the organisation,” explained Ho.

Data science, he said, is relevant in almost every industry. The recent growth of interest in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) will also see data science being used increasingly for industrial use cases.

Ho said a data scientist needed to have knowledge in mathematics, statistics and programming (that is, programming languages such as Python, R, SQL, Java, Spark and Scala).

“A university degree is a good starting point — and for technical leadership positions, a postgraduate degree is useful to develop the research skills needed to solve increasingly complex problems. Having said that, online learning courses are good as supplemental material for the budding data scientist.”


Content creators must be able to deliver on multiplatform channels.

The fact that the Internet has democratised access to creation and distribution tools is giving rise to a more dynamic content industry.

Digital content is created, curated, exchanged and consumed by the day across the world, paving new ways on how content can be presented, said Associate Professor Dr Massila Hamzah, dean of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

“For content providers, it means delivering what the audience wants, in whatever form the audience wants and whenever the audience wants it.

“The content industry can no longer afford to limit themselves to only providing offline and on-air content through media like print or radio and television content, they need to expand further and look at all digital platform content requirements.

“There is no such thing as one content fits all, but to provide content for all platforms. Adding to the challenge, the timeframe to create these content is getting shorter and shorter,” she said.

Therefore, with an ever-changing content demand, there is a demand for talents who are multitalented and can serve many digital platforms such as photographers, graphic designers, writers, podcasters, gamers and video producers.

Creative content creators should be savvy in a plethora of digital platforms, are organised and creative, analytical and associative, disciplined and do a lot of diverse reading.

“Continuous attention to writing excellence and good production practices enhances agility in creative work. If talents possess high standards of writing, it will lead to lower editing costs, better reusability and overall faster completion time.

“Language mastery is vital and for those who can communicate multilingually verbally and in writing, they will be an asset to the industry. Besides that, in terms of personality, today’s employers expect their workforce to be adaptable, versatile and agile. Again, this is to cater to an audience who has diverse interests but also uses several different digital platforms,” she said.


The sharing of personal information online requires privacy officers to ensure the data is secure.

With commercial entities like banks and insurance companies, shopping platforms, utilities and telecommunication service providers being more connected to the Net and offering their services via online access, there are concerns about data privacy and security among customers.

This has given rise to demands that companies and governments ensure that the data collected from customers or users are kept safe and secure, and has led to the creation of laws in various countries around the world that protect customer information from being misused or misapplied by parties concerned.

In Malaysia, according to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Law Faculty dean Professor Dr Nazura Abdul Manap, these concerns are being addressed by The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA).

PDPA stipulates provisions that protect users from any form of abuse in the storage or processing of personal data of individuals, public and private sectors in Malaysia for commercial transactions.

“To ensure that these rules are being complied with, there is a potential for an emerging demand for such commercial entities to employ privacy officers who would look into data privacy, privacy compliance, privacy law and policies. This is especially important in view of IR 4.0 developments, particularly in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The focus should not just be on compliance within Malaysian borders but also in other countries where the data is shared if the business involves cross-border transactions,” she said.

The role of privacy officers is to ensure that the handling of personal data complies with data protection rules.

“While it is not necessary for privacy officers to have a background in law, they must be aware of the relevant rules, able to carry out compliance and auditing activities. It requires meticulousness to carry out the job,” she said.

By Rozana Sani.

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Careers you shine in not defined by your degree

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Nestle management trainee Mohamad Hafiz Abd Latif (left) sharing his trainee experience with Sam Shu Jing (right).- NSTP/Eizairi Shamsudin

Graduates from various academic disciplines are welcome in most management trainee programmes.

Nestle group human resources talent acquisition manager Shariza Mohd Razi said: “Programme applicants can select the functions that they would like to join. Some functions, like marketing, welcome students from different backgrounds. The rotations give trainees a helicopter view of how the functions work end to end.”

For Sam Shu Jing, 26, getting into Nestle Management Trainee Programme was an alternative pathway to explore beyond what she studied in university.

Currently an assistant brand manager with Nestle, she became a marketeer despite holding a degree in accounting and finance from Sunway University.

“At Nestle, depending on business needs, trainees are matched with functions that suit our interest, growth and development. I made it clear that my passion was in marketing.

Getting into the marketing role was a smooth transition for Sam.

Nestle group human resources talent acquisition manager Shariza Mohd Razi.

“It was not difficult as I received strong support from my coach and line managers. As a fresh graduate entering a huge corporate company, there were a lot of marketing-related topics that I had to refer to my coach for advice.

“Having passion is also very important in your career. If you’re passionate about your work, you won’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Darren Seng Fook Loong, 25, pursued an international business degree at INTI International University, Nilai, but he has always been intrigued with information technology.

Three months before his graduation, Seng followed his passion and landed an opportunity to work with Oracle Malaysia.

The international computer technology corporation runs a training programme for business development consultants (BDC).

“Although I came from a business background, Oracle provided me with an opportunity to kick off my career.”

Starting as a BDC with the sales department, Seng was involved in lead generation by profiling potential customers interested in digital transformation.

“As a business graduate, selling IT products was not easy at first. The company provided me with immense training to develop my soft and technical skills.

“I also had access to the Oracle E-Learning Portal to independently learn about the products.”

While his degree may not correspond with his work, Seng added that the communication skills he learnt in university also played a role in his career progression.

“I had the opportunity to enhance my presentation skills which boosted my confidence on how I present my ideas to my stakeholders.”

By Rayyan Rafidi

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NSTP visit an eye-opener for Meiji University students

Friday, February 14th, 2020
Students Japan visit the NSTP Resource Centre. -NSTP/Email

KUALA LUMPUR: In an effort to expose undergraduates to the working world, six exchange students from Meiji University, Tokyo under the Summer School Programme paid a visit to The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad (NSTP) yesterday.

The students, accompanied by four lecturers from University Teknologi Malaysia Kuala Lumpur (UTMKL), were in the country for a three-week English Proficiency Course, run by UTMKL’s Social Sciences and Humanity Faculty.

The main objectives of the programme were to provide exposure to the students on the actual working world and on improving their communications skill.

“We choose to visit NSTP as the company has the most established English daily, New Straits Times.

“Besides the good quality of language used, the newspaper also runs interesting programmes such as the Newspaper-in-Education (NIE) and Empowering English in Education (3E),” said UTMKL lecturer Nurfarah Athirah Abdullah Sidek, who led the students for this visit.

Earlier, the students were briefed on the company’s operation and products by NSTP head of corporate communications Wan Abdillah Wan Nawi.

They were also taken for a tour around the newsroom, INK Studio which is a multimedia studio and ARTCRIB, formerly known as Resource Centre, which houses NSTP’s rich archives of photos and newspaper articles.

While familiarising themselves with the journalism industry in Malaysia through the tour, one of the participants, Kimata Hiromi, an editor in a Japanese publishing company shared some stories from back home.

According to her, the editorial process among Japanese media companies were much more intense compared to here.

“Journalists have to submit their write-ups by 12 noon. After the submission, regular discussions will be held between the editors and journalists to decide on which news will be chosen and printed for the day.

“The newspapers will then be distributed to homes and organisations respectively beginning 4am daily.

“Most people in Japan only read Japanese language newspapers. However, we do have our own fully English language newspaper,” she added.

By Pauline Yee.

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Move on! Stop feeling sad and down!

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019
Where do I fit in the new year – staff members being briefed about the retrenchment exercise during a townhall at Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur. — Pix: NSTP/HAFIZ SOHAIMI

IT hurts when you get sacked from your job. It really sucks. Being fired at a time when you are not yet ready to call it a day can be devastating.

It can shake your self-confidence and make you wonder if this is the end of the road where your professional career is concerned. That’s what some of my former colleagues at Media Prima Bhd are going through now.

Some have already received their termination letters. Many of them have served the once-mighty and proud publishing house and free-to-air television network for many years.

Many would say that some of their best years were either in Bangsar or Damansara.

This latest round of downsizing will trim down manpower at Balai Berita and Sri Pentas significantly.

By the first quarter of next year, the group’s headcount would have been greatly reduced.

No company would like to lose its trained staff. But it happens. This retrenchment exercise is perhaps the most painful ever for the group.

Certainly the most emotional yet. Many of the affected staff have been voicing their fears and anxieties, wondering what the future holds for them and their families.

The camaraderie and friendship among them are so strong that even those who stay behind are also emotionally affected.

I know for a fact that the bond among many of the staff is thick, nurtured over many years with teamwork, sacrifices and genuine friendship.

I know many of them personally. Rumours of a big lay-off have been circulating for months. Last week, these rumours became real. It is not fake news. Sometimes in a media organisation, nothing is a secret and nothing is sacred.

Only those who have had their services prematurely terminated know the real pain. Yes, there’s financial compensation. Yes, there are other support packages available. But these do not ease the pain of being laid off, no matter how compelling the reasons may be.

There is more sadness than anger in this latest exercise. For the past week, staff huddled and tried to comfort each other.

But it must also be said that there are employees who have been looking to make a career change.

Thus, the retrenchment with its financial compensation is a blessing for them.

The company’s declining revenue has made the big lay-off inevitable. The affected staff are offered financial compensation, which cushions the blow somewhat.

One’s package depends on the number of years of service and one’s last-drawn salary.

I went through the same process about 15 years ago. I know the feeling exactly. I chose to be a journalist 47 years ago and had thought that I would retire when I reached the mandatory retirement age. But this was not to be.

It took years to recover from the blow, years of putting up a bold front. Still, I was fortunate. Colleagues helped to hook me up to another job almost immediately. Otherwise, I would have been left idle twiddling my thumbs.

I had a brief chat with the group editor of the New Straits Times, Rashid Yusof, last week.

He handed out retrenchment letters to some of the editorial staff, a task that he would probably remember his whole life. He then visited several states to hand over the letters personally to his colleagues.

Last Tuesday, he spoke to those affected. He felt just as sad. As I recall, Rashid, who came into the NST family on Pak Samad’s (Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail) recommendation when he was editorial adviser in the mid-1980s, said: “It’s a sad day for me. For all of us. We are family.

“This sense of family togetherness is a Balai Berita DNA for a long time, regardless of which department one comes from.”

The affected staff’s last day of service is on March 15

The NST turns 175 next year — no small achievement. It has seen its ups and downs, with internal and external challenges.

Rashid said: “We will endure and regroup. It is a new journey for all of us — those leaving and those staying back. There will be new milestones to strive for.

“This newspaper had always been keeping a keen eye on national issues, and beyond. In its 175th year, we must seek to regain our ambitions.”

A small advice to those leaving: don’t burn your bridges, stay in touch with each other, be positive always, and don’t blow away your financial compensation on parties and kenduri.

You have skill sets that can be turned into productive capital — use them.

Equally challenging would be the tasks before those who remain behind. The onus is on you to show that your friends and colleagues have not departed in vain.

Remember this — they go so that you can stay. So please do justice to their “sacrifice”.

Everyone needs to gather their thoughts. You have to shoulder the burden of making sure the company corrects its bottom line. Of course, it starts from the top! If you fail, the departed won’t take that kindly.

So build on the collective sadness; take on the challenge head on and stop saying “NO” to new ideas, innovation, technology and a new horizon. Make every sen count; make every word tell a story.

By Ahmad A Talib.

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NST Leader: Working at retrenchment

Monday, December 16th, 2019
(FILE PIX) Work shapes us in so many ways. It forms us, intellectually and psychologically, as one economist put it. NSTP
December 16, 2019 @ 12:00am

WORK has a big presence in our lives. But it is seldom a subject of discussions in the media.

Of late, however, some companies are downsizing their operations to keep businesses afloat. It is about restrategising and refreshing ideas and the way forward.

Data made available by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) point to 23,697 lay-offs last year. The top three contributors were manufacturing (7,600), construction (2,064) and finance (1,799). Socso’s figures only indicate those who apply for unemployment benefits.

This year, up to Nov 6, the number has climbed to 37,260 retrenched workers. But there are reasons for it — the global downturn, for instance, decline in exports, low domestic consumption or disruptive business models, ineffective management systems or underskilled and demotivated employees

Some companies, too, may need fewer employees due to labour-saving devices or technology. And in this era of robotics, many skills will become redundant.

Work shapes us in so many ways. It forms us, intellectually and psychologically, as one economist put it.

Take work away, these dimensions disappear. This is the formatted way of looking at things.

Change demands innovations and flexibility. Ultimately, economic hardships can make people unhappy. Also, one should not discount the social costs of being out of a job.

But the employees are not the only victims. The nation, too, will be denied of human capital. And the erosion of skills acquired over the years. These are important things that must be taken notice of. Because humans run the economy and society.

We accept that businesses should be uppermost nimble. “Be nimble, be quick” is an old Harvard University advice. It applies to all, and yes, to the media too.

This Leader is of the view that structural adjustments are necessary to strategically align the economy with new realities. The attendant despair and anxiety is a given.

A new narrative is what the nation needs this instance. About the new trajectories and sources of growth. The ground needs to crunch new numbers and data.

It is best that the storyboard is humanised. A good start is the new journey of the newly retrenched.

Socso is keen to offer assistance. The minute the retrenchment letter is issued, hurry along to Socso. It will start looking for new jobs.

In this context, there is something interesting going on across the Causeway. They call it responsible retrenchment. There, a government agency — the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation — tries to find employment within six months of retrenchment.

Some 70 per cent of the retrenched have done so through the task force. Malaysia will also highlight our initiatives. This and Socso’s Employment Insurance System (EIS) that helps the retrenched cushion unemployment for six months.

New opportunities should be communicated extensively. Companies, too, can play a role by helping employees reskill for life outside. Early intervention with the EIS team will help.

As for the retrenched, they need to be careful with the compensation they receive. Whatever the amount, it needs to be invested wisely.

The money must be made to grow and not to be wasted on experimental ventures. It is in this way they can prepare for life outside.

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Headed for bright job prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Job prospects for ECSE graduates are very good and they can choose to work locally or internationally.

THERE may be many domains within the engineering field but pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering (ECSE) at Monash University Malaysia can offer prospective students a multitude of exciting career options in the future.

ECSE encompasses all scales of electrical and electronic engineering, from the fundamentals of circuits, electronic signals and signal processing through digital electronics and systems on chips to the designs of large-scale power and telecommunication systems. It is an incredibly diverse field.

Monash University Malaysia Head of Discipline (ECSE) Assoc Prof Lan Boon Leong explained that ECSE is a diverse and rapidly evolving field that includes biomedical, computer systems, electronics, electrical power engineering, robotics and telecommunications.

The university’s four-year programme equips students with a solid foundation in ECSE to prepare them for the working world.

“The job scope is pretty wide while students can enter different fields and industries,” he explained. “Our graduates work in a wide range of industries, including semiconductor manufacturing, telecommunications, solid-state lighting, technology consultancy and software engineering.”

Prof Lan highlighted that job prospects for ECSE graduates are very good and that they can choose to work locally or internationally – many multinational companies actively seek Monash graduates to employ, including recruitment on campus.

Students must undergo training in an industrial-based environment after their third year of study, as required by the Board of Engineers Malaysia’s Engineering Accreditation Council. After the 12-week training, students must submit a written report detailing their work experience.

Companies like British Telecommunications plc, Carrier (M) Sdn Bhd, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc, F&N Holdings Bhd, Freescale Semiconductor Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Goodyear Malaysia Berhad, Hicom Automotive Manufacturer (M) Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Airlines, IBM (M) Sdn Bhd and Shell Refining Company (Federation of Malaya) Berhad have all provided internship opportunities for Monash’s engineering students.

“Most of our ECSE students undergo their industrial training at renowned multinational companies such as Intel, National Instruments (NI) and Huawei Technologies,” said Prof Lan, adding that many of these students have formally and informally been offered a job before they graduate.

Many Monash graduates work in large public and private telecommunications, manufacturing and electrical power companies. Others work for defence and intelligence organisations.

Prof Lan reiterated that the curriculum addresses the fundamental knowledge of ECSE, which can be applied in many areas.

“You can’t learn everything in university – you learn the fundamentals. When you go out to the working world, you have to rely on your ability to learn. And that’s one of the key points about our degree – students learn how to learn,” he said.

“Students learn not only in their third-year engineering design unit and final-year project but also in other units throughout their four years of studies.”

Projects are often related closely to the department’s exceptionally strong research and collaborative industry programmes within its research centres.

To further help students ease their transition from university to the workplace, ECSE hosts talks by its alumni who share their experiences with current students on job hunting and interviews, what to expect in the working world, as well as how they adapted to their new environment.

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Developing ‘work-ready’ PR students

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
Professor Mohd Said Bani C.M. Din (back row, centre) with Taylor’s University Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management students after delivering an educational talk.

In recent years, feedback from many employers indicate that graduates lack the essential skills required to get by in the workplace.

As a way to elevate the standards of its graduates, Taylor’s University School of Media and Communications has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with strategic communications firm BzBee Consult Sdn Bhd to develop more “work-ready” students.

BzBee managing director Professor Mohd Said Bani C.M. Din said: “Time and time again, we have heard how students can excel academically, but find it difficult when they seek to be a part of the workforce.

“There exists a gap between the skills that universities churn out and what the job market requires. From our experience interviewing graduates, they lack in many aspects. It is our hope that this collaboration will contribute towards closing this gap.”

He added: “All universities are committed to producing students academically, but what sets Taylor’s University apart is how it persistently finds new ways to develop students from the practical standpoint.”

The MoU seeks to explore opportunities that will provide practical experience to students, deliver developmental support through industry-based exposure, training and intellectual discussions, as well as identify specific focus areas to better prepare students for the job market

(From left) Dr Latifah Pawanteh, Professor Dr Neethiah Ari Ragavan, Professor Dr Pradeep Nair, Professor Mohd Said Bani C.M. Din and Zalina Abdul Aziz at the memorandum of understanding signing ceremony between Taylor’s University and BzBee Consult Sdn Bhd.

It will offer students real-world learning through consultancy projects, industry engagements and exposure, specifically in the areas of public relations (PR), issues and crises, as well as stakeholder management.

As part of this collaboration, Taylor’s University and BzBee will set up a learning centre known as The Hive to give students industry-based exposure.

Mohd Said said: “At The Hive, they can meet with the BzBee team and consult us on practical learning materials.

“To enhance its functions, we decided to collaborate with some of our clients, starting with Sarawak Tourism Board in its campaign themed ‘Sarawak: More to discover’. This will better acquaint students with the promotional and communications aspects of tourism.

“They have already learnt the theory. Our part is translating that into practice to pique their interest. Education is not just about scoring exams, but it’s about making students passionate to explore.”

Through this tripartite arrangement, students get to take up a bigger role, said Mohd Said.

“Internships will get you involved with the clients only in a very short period. Students usually just go through the motions and do as they’re told. In this programme, students get to be decision-makers.

“Acting as a real company, they will come up with strategies and implement plans of their own from scratch. We will monitor and guide them along the way.”

He said it was important for students to complement their academic studies with the tacit knowledge outside the classroom.

“We will incorporate stakeholder management as part of the teaching process. This way, students will get to experience dealing with actual case scenarios. Each client has a different set of stakeholders, so students need to master the correct techniques and understand their sentiments. Students will gain valuable soft skills and intrinsic values. This is not something a PR practitioner learns from the textbook.”

Just like any other industry, he said, the PR industry was undergoing a massive digital transformation.

BzBee Consult Sdn Bhd managing director Professor Mohd Said Bani C.M. Din.

He said: “Future PR practitioners or students cannot take things for granted. They must utilise technology to increase their efficiency in the workplace such as in media monitoring.

“But students must also understand that creative skills and human qualities are still important. Even with machine learning, this aspect of PR will not be replaced.”

The MoU will also explore opportunities in research and publications for Taylor’s University lecturers in the PR field.

“We will deliver materials to the lecturers. In fact, we have created and provided educational videos and conducted mock cases and media briefings,” Mohd Said said.

The MoU was inked by Taylor’s University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Dr Pradeep Nair and Mohd Said on Oct 14 at Taylor’s University Lakeside campus.

Pradeep said: “This MoU signifies our commitment in collaborating with industry players to provide students with real-industry experience and encouraging lecturers to develop industry-driven projects on PR.

“Perhaps, one day, we may be able to apply an ‘open-loop’ approach, where students will get the opportunity to work as part of the course and return to the university to continue their studies.

“Towards this end, we hope this collaboration with BzBee will be a start, where students no longer have to be in the classroom to continue to grow. We believe there is much to learn from those in the outside world.”

Mohd Said said to fill in the gap, a concerted effort was needed.

“The industry can’t just complain that the standards of graduates are terrible and blame it solely on the education system. I don’t believe in this blame game.

“BzBee has always believed in the ‘open-loop’ approach in education. Other parties should also take a step forward to help students get ready for the workforce.”

Present at the ceremony were Taylor’s University Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management executive dean Professor Dr Neethiah Ari Ragavan, Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management head Dr Latifah Pawanteh and BzBee senior director Zalina Abdul Aziz.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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Welcome competitive advantage Gen Z brings

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Currently, the workplace is a highly diverse and interesting environment comprising a few generations who present myriad characteristics. That said, organisations should shift their focus to the youngest group in the workforce, post-Millennials, known as Generation Z or simply Gen Z. Unicef broadly defines this tech-savvy generation as those born after 1995.

This is a generation raised on internet and smartphones and, hence, very comfortable with electronic communication and interaction. In short, they live and breathe technology. They use digital tools and quickly adapt to new devices. They are intelligent, brave, practical and fast, often requiring less supervision. However, it has been suggested that Gen Z has an attention span of merely eight seconds!

With the early Gen Z now in their twenties and rapidly joining the employment market, questions on this generation’s values and workplace expectations need to be addressed. First, Gen Z job-seekers tend to use Linkedln in their search for employment. Apart from the expected active-ness on social networking sites such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, they favour Linkedln to build their “brand” and make their presence known in the job market, according to a study on graduating Gen Z students. Personal branding – being able from the outset to naturally identify and showcase their prominent dispositions to interested employers – is highly instinctive for them.

This is a generation who – despite or because of growing up in a world conscious of terrorism and public fear, due to acts of terrorism and mass violence – believe that they can make a difference in the world. Gen Z possess greater awareness and support diversity, equality and inclusivity. Therefore, in their search for the ideal job, they are attracted to organisations with a cause – a company that is socially responsible and actively contributing to the betterment of society and/or the environment. Once they find an organisation that matches their values, they will be focused and highly committed in their job. It is unsurprising that they are then willing to settle for lesser pay to work in a company that champions causes they believe in. In other words, Gen Z find such non-financial rewards more attractive.

In line with this characteristic, many organisations now practise sustainable human resource management, where the sustainability agenda is delivered through workers, including Gen Z. This creates a win-win situation of person-organisation fit, in which 1) the organisation becomes more ethical and socially and/or environmentally responsible, while 2) drawing potential Gen Z employees.

Another appealing point of this up-and-coming generation is how driven they are – often setting high expectations of themselves and of their employers. Having witnessed the stereotyping of Gen Y, this succeeding generation strives to uphold their own professional brand and prove that they are equally capable when they are offline. Based on extensive studies conducted by Ranstad US as well as Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace, authors of Generation Z Goes to College, Gen Z students have high entrepreneurial spirit and some have intentions to be self-employed upon graduating. What is striking is that this preference for entrepreneurship is not just a conscious choice but rather a mechanism for survival in today’s world, having come of age during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Opportunities that explore and encourage the use of technology are also what Gen Z look for in their work. Spending an average of three hours a day on social media, this generation is innately keen on and capable of accessing online materials, particularly social media, in getting the job done. Despite that, they are generally more aware of online privacy issues, having learnt from Gen Y the risks of over-exposure and divulgences on the internet. Such combined superior technical and language proficiency, along with their online security risk savviness, suggest that they indeed add value to the workforce.

In addition, Gen Z prefer hands-on activities as they focus on acquiring skills necessary for their career. Two unique aspects of this generation are: 1) observation before trying out something themselves, such as viewing videos on YouTube or other social media video-sharing sites, and 2) broader application of their knowledge.

They also enjoy playing games and thus, find the gamification of tasks highly appealing. A focus on how jobs can be gamified so as to hold their attention and enthusiasm is the way to go. Compared with their Gen Y and Gen X predecessors, Gen Z are stronger in the field of IT or creative works, and they perform poorly in monotonous activities. Instead, jobs that allow autonomy and individuality are ideal.

Furthermore, Gen Z expect to receive instant feedback at work. They are bolder and want their ideas to be heard. They will only engage in teamwork when forced to, unlike Gen Y who believe in the power of collaborative efforts. Then again, Gen Z are more eager to share knowledge compared to Gen Y, albeit online rather than face to face.

To sum up, Gen Z job-seekers favour workplace flexibility, immediate job satisfaction and recognition, as well as careers that allow them to reap immediate rewards or progression. These are distinctive and highly independent people who are happiest when their work has significant social impact, and are confident using technology in general and social media in particular. Let us welcome them to the workforce and embrace the competitive advantage they bring to organisations!

By: Dr Liew Su Ann

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