Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Building digital presence to stand out and reach potential employers

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019
File pix) Hiring is becoming smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

TRYING to make yourself stand out in a sea of graduates looking for jobs is tricky. Over the past years, a candidate’s view on recruitment has changed rapidly, from passively looking for a position in newspapers to actively looking for jobs via the Internet.

Hiring is becoming smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection.

In the digital age, a LinkedIn profile can be a good way to find work experience and other opportunities alongside your studies.

It is a platform to build a positive online presence for yourself by establishing a digital presence, demonstrating what makes you standout and reaching out to potential employers.

It can be a key way to build up contacts while still at university.


Featured as the Youngest Most Inspirational LinkedIn Icon in Malaysia in 2018 and this year, Gholamali Shamskhoozani Alish is the man behind LinkedIn Local Kuala Lumpur (LLKL), a series of professional networking events held in Kuala Lumpur since 2017 alongside more than 1,000 cities in the world.

Better known as Alish, he said the aim of this movement is to connect in an ad-free genuine platform where hard selling, promotional talks, multi-level marketing, ads spamming and such are prohibited at #linkedInLocalKL events.

“Among social platforms, LinkedIn is the only platform that’s professional and employers do check it out for hiring purposes, making it the highest rated platform that is worth spending time on to build online presence.

“This is true even for students so they can connect with future employers or meet experts who can mentor them and guide them in various matters such as internship and referral letters.

“As LinkedIn is becoming more popular and used worldwide, it’s important for everyone including youths to utilise its power.

“Many employers do not ask for curriculum vitae anymore, they just require your LinkedIn URL.

That’s because there’s a lot more information in our LinkedIn account that cannot fit in to a two-page CV.

“The information includes insights that you share publicly, endorsements of your skills, recommendations and more. As such, without a LinkedIn profile, you cannot articulate as well as you can with it.

“In other words, don’t get left behind; use LinkedIn to build online presence and impress your future employer,” added Alish,head organiser and host of LLKL events.

In addition to options for employers to post jobs, many recruiters advertise vacancies on LinkedIn.

For example, the informal job advertisement could be something like “Guys, we’re recruiting for position X. If you’re interested or know anyone who is, comment below or message us”.

“This is even more effective than an online job portal because you deal with humans here, which means you can follow up with them or ask questions if any.

“The filtering process at some online job portals may not be accurate since candidates are judged based on basic info, without even a simple background on them.”

Having partnered with reputable brands such as IBM and Fave, LLKL has become one of the main platforms to “meet the people behind the profiles”, and get to know each other effectively for business collaborations, sharing sessions and discussions.

“Each event includes a panel discussion on different topics and panellists who can help you grow your business.”

Alish has been invited to universities in the country such as Heriot-Watt University, Taylor’s University, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to conduct youth-related workshops and talks for students.

The Syrian Community-UTM held the most recent workshop at the university last month. Titled Getting Spotted and Hired Through LinkedIn, the workshopcovered a basic introduction to LinkedIn as well as tips on establishing personal branding, creating professional content, building influence online and connecting with the right network on the platform.

Conducted by Alish, the first session of the work shop dealt with incorrect perceptions of LinkedIn and creating a strong profile from scratch.

“Some think it’s a job platform or they only need to create a profile when they graduate.

“The truth is, especially for students, it’s a need so when they graduate, they can reach out to a wide professional network with an excellent online presence that can help their profiles to stand out with a good ranking in Search Engine Optimisation, a website’s position in the search engine results page.”

The second session elaborated on topics such as personal branding, building a wide yet relevant network and the art of creating content.

Finally, Alish assigned a task to all attendees to check if everyone was on the same page.

“The task seemed to be simple — post about the workshop on their profile within five minutes. It could be something they learnt, a summary of the workshop or someone they met for the first time there.

“Some struggled with writing their postings but they finally did it. Taking the first step is usually the hardest part but it must be taken. Otherwise, we can’t reach our goal,” he added.


A LinkedIn member for many years, Radhika Gautam Gunaji, 28, who is pursuing doctoral studies in petroleum engineering at UTM in Johor Baru, said she is well-acquainted with the professional networking platform and is intrigued by new things she can learn from it.

“I wanted to know how to reach out to more professionals and recruiters via LinkedIn. This will help me in my job hunt after I graduate and build a stronger network with the industry,” she said.

Radhika said major recruiters around the globe use online screening to hire the right candidate for their firms or clients.

“LinkedIn allows me to highlight my achievements and skills at a platform that has gained credibility through years of service to professionals.

“I learn from different people by tracking their activities and who they follow that will help me promote my profile across a wide range of professionals as I have diverse experience.

“I hope to improve my profile with more certifications and recommendations,” she added.

In September 2018, International Student Society-Syria Chapter president Magd Al Sayed Wahbe and his fellow countrymen from Syria formed the Syrian community at UTM in Johor Baru as they felt the need to gather the students under a society where they can meet, learn and share their experiences, and raise awareness of knowledge and soft skills essential to the future.

“We organised the LinkedIn workshop in partnership with LinkedIn Local Society to introduce LinkedIn as a global network for professional people to students and make them aware of its importance.

“We want to make sure each student has a professional profile ready when looking for job and encourage students to use LinkedIn as a daily networking platform.

“During the workshop, students learnt the difference between LinkedIn and other networking platforms, and how to set each section in the LinkedIn profile in professional way, post and discover elite people profiles.

“By the end of the day, students knew how to represent themselves better in LinkedIn and they began to rethink their future among professional people.

“We advised them that this is the perfect time to invest in themselves via participation in clubs and societies to enrich their knowledge.

“This is the time to think about how to build their career path such as finding an internship,” added Magd.

Chemical engineering student Monabbir Hasan Arnab, 20, said: “We can get the right connection with people in the same field. Now I know how to navigate LinkedIn.

“My two posts have reached out to so many people and my connection has increased to more than 80 people within a few days,” he added.

Shakir Mahmud, 20, attended the workshop as a guide to apply for jobs and internships. He learnt to create a unique look or personal branding.

“I learnt that by focusing on one particular field of work and mentioning it in any of your posts onLinkedIn help to market your brand,” said the Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Aeronautics) student.

As for Estiaq Ahmed, 20, he is confident that his profile will attract more connections.

“I am now up-to-date on organisations, which are hiring and looking for interns, as well as job placements which are suitable for my qualification,” said Estiaq, who is studying electrical electronics.

Aamer Al Khateeb, 24, said he knew that LinkedIn is a platform to help professionals to preview their experiences and allow others, either companies or individuals, to know about them in-depth, but he never gave it a try.

“But with the help of a facilitator who gave me the tools and steps to be a successful LinkedIn user, I am on my way to setting my career pathway,” said the Master’s in Mechatronics and Automatic Control student.


LinkedIn Southeast Asia and North Asia head of communications Linda Lee said the social media platform is a fresh graduate’s guide to job search.

For Malaysian graduates entering the workforce for the first time on the lookout for job openings, LinkedIn has the community to help them find the right one depending on their skills and interests.

“Whether you’re just starting your career or on a journey to pursue fulfillment and meaning at work, now is a great time to find the right job for you.

“We have 20 millions jobs including entry-level roles,” she added.

Lee offered advice to help prepare for each step of the job search.

Firstly, establish a “Digital Presence That Reflects Who You Are” by asking yourself what drove you to pursue your degree? What are you “in it” for?

“Knowing these answers is crucial to finding the right job for you. Then create your LinkedIn profile and use the summary section to share a little bit more about yourself and skills, learning and experiences that make you unique.

“More than just a resume, your LinkedIn profile creates a great opportunity to make you standout.

It’s one of the top things recruiters using LinkedIn every day look at when viewing your profile.”

Secondly, “Look Beyond Your Degree or Qualification”.

“A degree can take you places, but it doesn’t dictate your career path. Keep in mind what is most important to you, and find it. Your degree or qualification can open up opportunities to land a variety of types of jobs beyond your major.

“If there are new skills you want to learn or improve on, online platforms such as LinkedIn Learning can help you get started. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation.

“Thirdly, ‘Explore Jobs on LinkedIn’. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s job search filters to narrow your search by industry, function and experience, and then use the open search box to add key phrases to find the right job for you.

“Discovering new jobs on LinkedIn has never been easier with ‘Instant Job Notifications’ and ‘Job Title Highlights’.”

Fourthly, “Connect with People in Your Network Who Can Help” by taking a good look at their LinkedIn community to see if they have any connections who work at companies that interest you.

“These professionals can be key to helping you find and land the job you want. Professionals on LinkedIn are four times more likely to get a call from a recruiter and nine times more likely to get hired when they’ve been referred by a connection than if they apply without a referral.

“And, fifthly, ‘Make a Good Impression’ by getting to know more about the company you wish to be part of. It can guide you on what it takes to get hired and succeed there. The website and company page on LinkedIn and other online resources can provide rich information and background.

“What’s important is that you know the steps to take on your journey to a successful and rewarding career. Be authentic, stay true to your values, call out what makes you different from the crowd and lean on your community for support.”

LinkedIn Asia Pacific managing director Olivier Legrand said the company aims to strengthen its offerings for small and medium business customers in Malaysia.

“It is not just a platform for individuals, it also offers a range of services for businesses to hire better and faster, insights that can help them make smarter decisions about things that are happening around them in real time and smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

How to fill the gaps in your resume

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Due to the competitive environment that we live in, people are expected to have a continuous string of jobs that indicate career progression.

However, there are times we need to take time off due to health reasons, getting retrenched, going back to school or in need of a long term holiday.

Generally, employers usually want to know how you spent the time and how well you stayed connected to your field.

When this happens, you don’t want to be caught off guard and seem like you spent a full year doing nothing. To prevent this, here are a few things you can do.

Restructure Your Resume

Instead of putting your career experience first, highlight your achievements, skills and education history before you get to the career time frame.

Once you have them by the hook with an impressive set of skills and achievements, it will create a level of curiosity which they are more likely to follow through and find out more from you.

In addition to that, you could also include a compelling reason on why you had chosen to make those changes during your career and include a good game plan for the future, in a well thought out cover letter.

Be Upfront

Being honest about your time off is better than fumbling through a made up excuse which automatically make the employers doubt you.

While you may need to be honest, how you word your answer could make or break how your future employers react.

If you told the hiring manager that you were retrenched, explain what happened and what action you took afterwards to keep your skills sharp.

Use the opportunity to tell them how you took up courses or kept working on freelance initiatives rather than leaving it to their imagination.

If you took a leave of absence travelling, taking care of your family, or any other reason, be sure to include the lessons and skills you’ve picked up during that time.

For example, travelling may have taught you conversational French, or taking care of your family taught you about household budgeting.

Don’t worry if these skills aren’t necessary for the job you’re applying for, because that’s not the point. The point is to show that you’re not just sitting at home watching YouTube all day.

Be Frank with Your Commitment Level

If you had taken time off to study or go on a trip around the world, you can expect your future employer to ask, “Will you be taking time off again?”.

When hiring someone, a company would worry about such an issue due to stability of operations. Should you take time off again, the company would need to hire and train a new person and will have to keep your position open until you get back.

This puts the company at a disadvantage as it increases their cost.

In a scenario such as this, be willing to provide the hiring manager some form of security.

Maybe, you would be willing to work for at least two years without the option of taking long periods off, unless it was due to emergencies such as health reasons.

A counter offer such as this would reassure the hiring managers and portray how committed you are.

This is assuming you do plan to take some leave off in the future of course.

Otherwise it’s a simple matter of reassuring them that you’re fully committed to your new position. Easy.

Lastly, Don’t Sweat it Too Much

While it’s understandable to be a bit anxious over how that gap in your resume might be construed, remember that a consistent career calendar doesn’t guarantee you a job, either.

What’s most important here is to be honest with your time off and be aware that you can still be a valued member of a team even if you did have to take a whole chunk of the calendar off work just to work on things.

If you being away was due to a medical situation, don’t rush to get back into work, since your health is way more important than your wealth.

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Lam Thye: Apt to widen laws to better protect the self-employed.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The move to widen the scope of laws to better protect self-employed workers is apt, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

“Self-employed workers must be given the means by the government to ensure their safety and quality of life,” Lee said.

Lee said this when speaking to reporters after launching the Labour Day celebrations organised by Bank Islam and Uni-Malaysian Labour Centre (Uni-MLC) here on Wednesday (May 1).

The Uni-MLC advisor was commenting on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Labour Day address.

This includes widening the scope of the Self-Employment Social Security Act 2017 to cover the self-employed, such as those providing e-hailing services, fishermen, farmers and performing artists.

Earlier in his speech, Lee said employers must provide training to employees to face the Industry 4.0 revolution.

He said this was crucial as workers need to adapt to the changes brought about by the use of automation and artificial intelligence.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman added that employers must also adopt the use of technology to provide better safety for workers.

He cited the use of embedded personal protective equipment (PPE) with sensors and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to improve data-gathering and efficiency.

On a separate issue, Lee suggested that all old residential buildings built by the government must be subjected to yearly compulsory safety audit, including residential colleges of higher learning institutions.

“State governments must come out with a clear-cut policy on the matter as there are many buildings that are already more than 30 years old with some in dilapidated condition,” he added.

By Martin Carvalho
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Special meeting to discuss creating more job opportunities

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
The Prime Minister had in the morning officiated the Labour Day celebration at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC). (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: It may be Labour Day today, but it’s work as usual for Cabinet ministers as they attended a special meeting to discuss ideas on how to create more job opportunities.

Official vehicles were seen entering the Perdana Putra compound from 2.45pm.

The special meeting was chaired by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and scheduled at 3pm.

The Prime Minister had in the morning officiated the Labour Day celebration at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) here.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, when met by reporters, said the meeting on creating job opportunities was coordinated by the Economic Affairs Ministry.

He said among issues discussed were efforts to create one million jobs for the people, especially youth in the country.

All ministries were asked to present their respective papers on initiatives and approaches on the topic at the meeting, he said.

“Hence we will discuss ways to create job opportunities and how we want to align the efforts,” he said.

By Bernama

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Early childhood education

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Early childhood education is beneficial for children ages 3, 4 and 5. It’s also often referred to as pre-school, pre-kindergarten, day care, nursery school or early education.

Early childhood education prepares young children for their transition into elementary school. Sending pre-school-age children to one of these early childhood education programs can make a positive impact on her and give her a head start toward a bright future.

Why is Early Childhood Education important?

The capacity of your child’s brain to soak up new learning peaks when your child is 3 years old.

At this point in your child’s life, she has the highest potential for learning new things.

While attending an early childhood education program, your child will improve her language and motor skills, while developing the learning and cognitive skills necessary to move on to primary school.

Attending a quality early childhood education program can benefit your child’s health as well.

Approximately 60 to 70 per cent of pre-school-age children attend an early childhood program or child care programme out of the home.

In addition, your child’s socio-emotional development is less likely to be adversely affected, with a decreased chance of needing behavioural or mental health care once she enters primary school.

Importance of Screenings

One of the many benefits of your child receiving an early childhood education is the opportunity to participate in early childhood screening.

This screening is provided for 3- to 5-year-olds and tests things like health, cognitive development, speech, vision, hearing, coordination, emotional skills and social skills.

Screenings can identify any development or health issues that need to be taken into consideration, to prevent learning delays.

Where can you study Early Childhood Education?

The Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECE) is offered by the Open University of Malaysia (OUM).

The   programme at OUM  contributes  to the all-rounded development of ECE teachers by updating their knowledge, skills and attitude as ECE professionals.

The programme is tailor-designed for Early Childhood principals, administrators, teachers, care takers, childminders and those involved with young learners to ensure that they have the necessary and enriched knowledge about child development and assessment, curriculum content, children arts and music, learning and pedagogy, health and safety, and ECE-centre management skills.

Entry Requirements

The Normal Entry requirements are:

i. Pass SPM/SPMV/MCE or its equivalent, with minimum a credit in 3 subjects; or

ii. Pass UEC with minimum Grade B in 3 subjects; or

iii. Pass O-Level with minimum Grade C in 3 subjects; or

iv. Pass SKM Level 3 in Early Childhood/ Preschool Care and pass SPM with minimum a credit in 1 subject; or

v. Pass Community College Certificate equivalent to MQF Level 3 in related field and pass SPM with minimum a credit in 1 subject; or

vi. Pass Early Childhood Education Certificate (MQF Level 3) in related field with a minimum CGPA of 2.00; or

vii. Pass STPM or equivalent with a minimum Grade C (GP 2.00) in 1 subject; or

viii. Pass STAM with minimum grade of Maqbul; or

ix. Other qualifications recognized as equivalent by the Malaysian Government.

Note: Matured students above the age of 20 years with working experience can also apply provided they pass the APEL Assessment Test conducted by OUM.

Tuition Fee

The total tuition fee For the Dipolma programme at OUM is RM 12, 780.  The Duration of the course is four years. Financial aid is available to those who are eligible from:


2) EPF (Account 2)

3) Education or Personal Loan from commercial banks

4) HRDF (subject to employer’s eligibility)

5) OUM Flexible Payment Scheme.

The OUM Advantage

Those who are interested in pursuing the Diploma programme with OUM have the added advantage to “ Word and Study”.

If you are a school leaver or an adult interested in this programme you can work and take up this course on a part-time basis. For details contact the nearest OUM centre.

by Krishnan
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Service-learning prepares graduates for the future

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia students at the My Asean Community Initiative in Kampung Sanchey, Wilayah Kratie, Cambodia.

STUDIES have identified positive improvement in the competencies of students who attended internship or industrial training.

In other studies, significant changes were noted in undergraduates’ attributes after they completed certain courses, particularly in terms of their teamwork skills as well as professional abilities.

However, not all undergraduates completed their industrial training or have internship opportunities.

Not all educators emphasise improvingtheir students’ generic and professional skills in the classroom or projects.

At the same time, the classroom or lecture method of learning does not give students “real experience”. Learning in the classroom is limited to discussions and learning theories. Real-life situations, as some scholars argue, can only be experienced in field studies outside the classroom.

The Education Ministry stresses on the implementation of High Impact Educational Practices which include 11 best practices in teaching and learning.

Among them are firstyear seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive course, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity or global learning, serviceor community-based learning, internships, e-portfolios, capstone courses and projects for final-year students.

These practices have been widely tested and shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds.

So, what is service-learning? It is defined as a method of teaching and learning that utilises experience in providing service to the society.

It is an approach that combines academic learning objectives, soft skills and students’ community service by giving meaningful contributions to society. Service-learning has been widely implemented in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia since 1970s.

The method has its root in John Dewey’s theory of experience. Although Dewey never addresses the specifics of service-learning, yet his writing closely informs and links the philosophy of education to theory of inquiry, experience, social service and social transformation.

Experiential learning is a process of learning through experiencing or learning by doing.

It immerses students in an experience and then encourages them to reflect on the experience in order to develop new skills, new attitudes or new ways of thinking. Technically, servicelearning is part of experiential learning that ful fils a course’s learning objectives by performing services in the community.

Srvice-learning is part of an experiential learning approach that links students with their immediate community. It differs slightly from volunteer work although many consider the two comparable. This transformative method of teaching and learning provides avenues for students to engage in structured activities intentionally designed to enhance their learning and community service while fulfilling their needs.

Service-learning blends community service with specific course goals. At the beginning of the term, students will be informed from the course syllabus that community service will be part of their assignment and assessment, and that service-learning is one of the approaches of learning they will experience.

By the end of the semester/course, meaningful learning aims and community service can be reciprocally achieved.

So what are the advantages of servicelearning?

It increases retention of academic

content by providing students with experiences that have real-life consequences.

The students may find out that the science and theories they learn in classes are relevant and applicable in real-life situations. In a long run, service-learning produces future-ready graduates who are holistic and are able to function well in a society.

Various studies on service-based learning have proven that students can improve their academic achievements, build leadership skills and strengthen their desire to serve the community. In fact, experience in service-learning has given students the added professional and career advantage, apart from inculcating civic consciousness and providing ethical services to society.

It also improves and fosters students’ life skills and qualities such as self-discipline, team-building, collaboration, respect for others, respect for quality work, character growth and interpersonal and community engagement.

University students are exposed to positive community service experiences during their undergraduate years, which allow them to learn about life skills and build understanding and caring connections to the world around them. In addition, students connect with people living abroad which enriches knowledge and broadens their horizon and way of thinking.

By Dr Najah Nadiah Amran.

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New board for training institutes parked under Manpower Department

Sunday, March 10th, 2019
(File pix) Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran. Pix by NSTP/Ramdzan Masiam

PUTRAJAYA: The government will form an Institute-Industry Management Board (IIMB) at all training institutes under the Manpower Department to create a local workforce which will enable Malaysia to become a high-income economy.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said three training institutes – Japan-Malaysia Training Institute (JMTI), Advance Technology Training Centre (ADTEC) Shah Alam and Kuala Lumpur Industrial Training Institute (ILPKL) – have been selected to take part in the IIMB pilot project.

He said the IIMB members would include Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), registered employers, workers’ unions and employer associations.

“With the setup of IIMB, it will become an effective initiative to ensure facilities for training, curriculum and upgrading of educators at every training institute which will be relevant to the needs of the industry,” he said before witnessing the signing of three memorandum of understanding (MoU) on training cooperation.

The MoU signing was between the Manpower Department and Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd (PSMB); Manpower Department, PSMB and Penang Skills Devlopment Centre; and Manpower Department, PSMB and First Solar Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Kulasegaran said governed by the PSMB Act 2001, PSMB was given the mandate by the government to catalyse the development of a competent local workforce which would contribute to Malaysia’s vision of becoming a high-income economy.

“Additionally, PSMB continues to be steadfast in its effort towards encouraging employers covered under the PSMB Act 2001 to re-train and upgrade the skills of their local employees, apprentices and trainees in keeping with the fast-evolving global business landscape while meeting the aspirations of their respective company/companies.

“In line with the 11th Malaysia Plan, we need to take effective measures to increase the percentage of skilled workers. The burden of achieving this target is not solely borne by the government but equally shared by the private sector as well.

“Industrial workers need to have continous training in order to keep abreast with the current technological advancements. Workers who have significant experience in their relevant skills set can be certified via Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) whereby it enables the workers to have a certificate or diploma without going through the traditional training pathway,” he said.

The minister was upbeat by the cooperation that the Manpower Department and PSMB would have with First Solar Malaysia, a subsidiary of a multinational company in the renewable energy industy, to further enhance the skills and academic qualifications of their technical staff.

“I was informed up to 500 technical staff will be involved, beginning with 125 technical staff who will undergo skills training at ADTEC Kulim.

By Azura Abas.

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Race more important than skills when it comes to jobs, study finds.

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Despite sharing the same qualifications, language skills and experience, a job applicant’s race still plays a major factor in employment, a study has found.

The study – conducted by Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) – found that the resumes of Indians and Malays are the least likely to receive callbacks from employers in the private sector.

On the other hand, the resumes of Chinese candidates dominated the callbacks by a huge margin, according to the centre in a statement Thursday (March 7).

Over the past few months, Cent-GPS said it sent 3,829 job applications to more than 500 jobs.

In each of these 500 jobs, seven nearly identical resumes were submitted, but represented by different fictitious ethnic group candidates – three Malays, two Chinese, and two Indians.

The study ensured that all of the seven resumes had the same qualifications, experience, language ability (Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin) but

differed in religious beliefs.

Out of the seven, Nicola Yeoh and Gabriel Liew, both ethnic Chinese, fared the best with 240 and 179 callbacks, respectively.

Zulaikha Asyiqin Rashidi had 70 callbacks, Nur Sakinah Yusof (50), and Kavitha Muthusamy (49) fared the worst for women, while Muhammad Saddiq Azmi and Thivakar Gunasegaran had only 43 and 20 callbacks, respectively.

“Both our female and male Chinese candidates obtained more job callbacks than their Malay and Indian counterparts combined,” said the statement.

At the same time, Cent-GPS said that despite its candidates being able to communicate in Mandarin at an “intermediate” level, a Chinese candidate is still likely to receive callbacks.

“Nicole received a 55% callback rate from Mandarin-required firms, while Thivakar only received 9%.

“In conclusion, for the most part, when companies list ‘Mandarin required’ in their advertisement, it is just a filter to hire Chinese candidates,” it added.

Cent-GPS also said that a Malay girl who does not wear the hijab is likely to receive more callbacks compared to one who does.

“Zulaikha (who did not wear a hijab) obtained a 12.8% callback rate, while Nur Sakinah (who does) obtained a 9.14% callback rate.

“The only difference was that in the picture, one wore a hijab and the other did not.”

Cent-GPS said the study paints a bleak future for Malaysian youth, and if such employment trends continue, many more people will be marginalised.

By Tarrence Tan
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Upskilling with English

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019
(File pix) A communicative approach in learning English will help students develop skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, negotiating and conflict resolution. Courtesy Photo

WITH the rising demand for soft skills in the working world, questions abound whether being competent in English is still key for graduates to gain employment.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report last year suggested that by 2020, complex problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creativity, good people management and emotional intelligence will become very important traits in the workplace.

Having sophisticated language skills provides the foundation to communicate ideas, thoughts and opinions effectively.

British Council Malaysia director Sarah Deverall said proficiency in English has never been more important to gain employment and get ahead in the digital age.

And companies based in Malaysia and abroad are increasingly operating across geographical boundaries, so the ability to communicate in English with internal and external stakeholders is crucial.

“While many people nowadays are competent in using and understanding English, skills such as having an advanced range of grammatical structures, natural pronunciation, or awareness of appropriacy and register can make a huge difference in how effective they communicate in English,” she said.

In its latest Job Outlook report released in January, online job portal stated that English proficiency in Malaysia continues to be of concern, with 64 per cent of employers saying that a poor command of the language was the second reason behind the unemployment of fresh graduates. Malaysia country manager Gan Bock Herm said communication skills are among the top five valued by employers, and it is true that by improving those skills and having a good command of English, it would increase a jobseeker’s employability, especially for fresh graduates.

“Besides communication skills, there are other important traits that are crucial in the competitive job market.

“They include good problem-solving skills, the ability to manage stress and work independently, and the willingness to learn, embrace new changes and adapt accordingly,” he said.


“Learning a language can help with the development of soft skills, particularly when using the communicative learning approach, where students can develop teamwork, problem-solving capabilities, and the art of negotiating and conflict resolution,” said Deverall.

As an example, she said during speaking activities in British Council training programmes for scholarship recipients bound for studies at universities abroad, the students are given the opportunity to collaborate with their groupmates to practise turn-taking and negotiating.

The English classes may also involve discussions or essay-writing activities, where students are asked about their opinion on certain topics and to support it with evidence or ideas.

“This kind of activity allows students to develop their critical-thinking skills and confidence.

Alternatively, they may be asked to suggest a solution to an issue, which allows them to polish their problem-solving skills,” said Deverall.

In graduate training programmes, participants learn to make small talk with future bosses and colleagues, express ideas clearly in meetings, make presentations to clients or the management, and write structured, clear and concise emails, reports and proposals.

But English language courses are often short and may not be effective for university students to master the skills needed to survive the working world.

How can universities help students hone their English language skills, besides developing soft skills in an effective and lasting manner?


In Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), students are required to partake in English proficiency courses or activities under the university’s Putra English Language Experience (ELEx) programme —a learning package conducted by the Centre for the Advancement of Language Competence (CALC) — every semester.

The experience can be both beneficial and enriching.

They include the English Language Proficiency (LPE) courses, Certificate in English Language (CEL) courses and Language Activities without credit (LAX) assignments.

The number of courses students have to take depends on their Malaysian University English Test (Muet) results, with those at a higher band getting more exemptions.

Muet gauges the undergraduates’ level of English in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Its proficiency band ranges between one and six, with the latter indicating the highest competency.

Nurul Farah Hana Shafrizal and Amirul Hakim Abdul Rahman, 20, both first-year Bachelor of Computer Science (Multimedia) students, have some things in common.

Their Muet score of Band 2 puts them as limited users of the language.

While both are comfortable in listening and reading, they are rather challenged when it comes to speaking and writing as they often shy away from conversing in English.

However, that is rapidly changing when they took up a course on reading for academic purposes. The course is one of five credited LPE courses conducted by CALC.

It not only taught Nurul Farah Hana and Amirul Hakim the skills to pen their words, but also to communicate confidently.

“The course has improved my comprehension through reading and analysing information and contents.

“And because the class requires me to think critically and share my opinion with fellow classmates of different capabilities, I now feel confident to speak in public. Not to mention, I made new friends, too,” said Amirul Hakim.

“For me, I learned that reading is really important as it can build my vocabulary and help me to understand nuances. With that, I feel comfortable speaking in English when interacting with my foreign coursemates,” said Nurul Farah Hana.

Alani Wahi Mohd Wahi, 21, a second-year Bachelor of Environmental Science and Technology student who scored Band 5—which means she has a very good command of English — discovered her creative side when she took up an LPE creative writing course.

Being used to cut-and-dry scientific writing, she took the opportunity to explore different ways of expressing her emotions and thoughts.

“In class, I went through the process of writing creative English pieces, such as poems and short stories.

“ To write a nicely structured poem, words need to fit in a certain way, thus requiring us to learn new vocabularies along the way.

“And, we were required to explain our poems and short stories in class. This is when our communication skills and self-confidence stepped up.

“We also analysed short stories and poems, and this helped to enhance our creativity and crititical thinking skills,” said Alani Wahi.

Preparation for the working world is what third-year Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering student Nufail Izzfarhan Rozley, 22, seeks from the CEL course on communication professional development.

Even though he scored Band 4 in Muet, Nufail Izzfarhan still finds a lot of room for improvemennt in his command of the language.

“I will soon go for internship and companies often use English as a medium of communication. This course has taught me to write a resume and conduct myself in interviews. I also learned about business communication.

“This has made me confident. In fact, I recently attended an interview for an internship placement and I think I didn’t do so badly,” he said.

Using English outside the classroom in an interactive and fun way is not something every student gets to experience.

But for Izzah Islah Muslim, 21, a second year Bachelor of Business Administration student, she experienced this in an LAX assignment called “Get Groomed”, which saw her working with five of her peers to produce three instruction videos on grooming.

For a student with a Band 3 in Muet, the activity pushed her out of her shell to make presentations and take a leadership role.

“My groupmates and I were from different faculties with different levels of English proficiency. We had to organise meetings and group discussions, which must be conducted in English, and record them to show our instructor.

“It took the pressure out of having to speak and write in English, and it helped me to make new friends,” said Izzah Islah.

Her coursemate, Hasbatrisyia Alya Mohd Hedzir, 21, had the best opportunity to interact with native-speakers when she joined a two-week outbound mobility programme to the University of Wollongong near Sydney, Australia.

Already proven to be fluent in English with a Band 5 in Muet, Hasbatrisyia Alya said it was an out-of-the-norm experience.

She joined English language classes at the host university, stayed with a foster family and explored her surroundings by visiting tourist attractions.

“I learned so much more than English itself. I learnt a lot about the country’s culture, people’s attitude and history.

“I gained confidence by communicating with the locals, learned to adapt to new surroundings and to think on my feet. Overall, not only did I improve my English, but I also got to see another part of the world.”


According to CALC director Associate Professor Dr Arshad Abd Samad, Putra ELEx was approved by the university senate in 2013 and implemented the same year.

A major goal in developing the package is to address industry feedback of graduates’ weakness in the English language, especially in conversations.

“While the LPE courses focus on acquiring important language skills, the CEL courses emphasise the need in occupational situations. Finally, the LAX assignments are meant to encourage students to speak in English and raise their confidence in using the language.

“It is organised in small groups without the presence of lecturers, and the students are required to discuss in English to complete their tasks.”

As a whole, Arshad said the ELEx provides language-related knowledge and skills needed for academic studies through the LPE courses; skills and abilities needed for the workplace through the CEL courses; and, opportunities to develop confidence in using the language through LAX activities.

ELEx, Arshad said, is intended to hone the students’ English language skills and abilities. It is to make them more confident in using the language so they do not become tongue-tied. Student are encouraged to speak naturally and not feel awkward.

“Not all our students have the opportunity to use the English language in natural and authentic circumstances,” he said.

Arshad believes that language skills remain crucial even when the emphasis seemed to have moved to other soft skills, such as creativity and critical thinking.

“It is through good language ability that the employee will be able to convey ideas more clearly. Hence, even if an employee has ideas and is highly creative, he or she will not be able to express those ideas clearly without a good command of the language.

“Secondly, being proficient in a second language allows one to view relevant issues from a different perspective.

“The more ways we can perceive an issue, the better we can assess the situation and make appropriate decisions.”


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How to kick-start your career path in gaming industry

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
(File pix) Games development students at APU working as a team to produce video games.

THE video gaming industry is one of the fastest growing in the world today. Last year, it made more than RM423 billion worldwide.

There is huge potential in the gaming industry in the country. In 2016, local gaming studios had a part in developing popular games such as Uncharted 4, Terminator Salvation and Mortal Kombat X.

The Malaysian studio Passion Republic has collaborated with international game developer Naughty Dog to develop the final instalment of the video game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It is a testament to Malaysia as a creative hub with the right talent to thrive in the industry.

This joint effort has led to partnerships with big names in the international arena. Since then many Malaysian studios have been creating headlines with their games such as King League 20(Kurechii), No Straight Road and Nightstream

With the growth of the industry, Malaysians are also jumping on the virtual world’s bandwagon to kick-start their careers such as producer, designer, artist, animator, digital media developer, and multimedia and animation tool developer.

Higher Ed looks at the nurturing of successful game developers with a focus on Game Art, Game Design and Game Technology (Programming) and how a degree in these disciplines can contribute to the growing market.


A champion of the gaming industry since 2000, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is optimistic of the nation becoming one of this region’s leading game hubs.

Take for example Multimedia University (MMU) game development graduate Hariz Mustafa, who has successfully published his virtual reality game, namely Deplau, on Steam Store, a digital distribution platform for video games developed by Valve Corporation.

During his final-year project, he experimented with gestures controls for First Person Shooter, a type of computer game in which the player aims and shoots at targets.

During his internship, he helped in developing a game prototype for Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 which led him to venture into virtual reality development.

With the industry on the rise, academicians urged policy makers such as government agencies and companies related to the gaming industry to develop an integrated ecosystem for Malaysian casual gamers and professional eSports players with the aim to create a winning combination for the industry and the economy.

Malaysia is on track to be the gaming industry hub as more international studios are entrusting local gaming studios with developing their intellectual property (IP).

Lecturer Damian Elias Surin at the Faculty of Multimedia Creativity in Limkokwing University of Creative Technology said: “This encourages young developers to venture into game development. With game studios aggressively expanding in both size and project content in recent years, university and industry partnership is vital in providing a balanced ecosystem in the gaming industry.”

The Youth and Sports Ministry is pushing for more development in eSports and the gaming industry in the country.

MMU lecturer Albert Quek said the gaming industry is unique as it is a melting pot of talents with backgrounds in art, and technical and design.

He added that the government has recognised the gaming industry as one of the important for talent development. Government agencies such as MDEC understand the importance of building an ecosystem in the industry for nurturing talents from eSport gamers to game developers.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Department of Game Studies head Kevin Tan Han Keong said the huge growth creates healthy competition, exchange of ideas and ample job opportunities.

Democratisation means game developers are no longer constantly reinventing or creating game engines.

“Instead they use established robust world class game engines such as Unity and Unreal, while focusing on creating quality game content,” added Tan.

Associate Professor Wong Bee Suan, academic director at Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), said the booming gaming industry in Malaysia will translate into more investments and more jobs will be created.

For example, multinational company Streamline has been in the country since 2010 and it has worked on Final Fantasy XV and Street Fighter V with Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology students.


“Students from different backgrounds can leverage on the gaming industry by working together to create games,” said Quek.

“A game consists of visuals and sound, in addition to programming and game rules. Students of game technology with knowledge in programming can work with their peers versed in game art to create games.

“Students trained with good fundamentals in game education can get exposure to best practices in the industry.”

These graduates can explore careers in information technology (IT)-related fields, for example application programming.

There is consistent growth in the user base for digital games in Southeast Asia, Tan added, especially in the online and mobile games market.

With demand for new games in this region, comes the need for games which meet local tastes, localisation services and local content.

“Graduates in the fields of gaming can expect strong demand for their skill sets, whether they be programming, art or game design.”

The country has a healthy game development scene with many homegrown companies and talents that create original IP as well as outsourcing from international and established game studios such as Capcom, Naughty Dog and Blizzard.

“Game studios are looking for new ideas and ways of solving problems. A graduate who enjoys being challenged and tapping into the unique multicultural Malaysian roots can offer new perspectives to the industry.

“Therefore, jobs are aplenty for graduates with the right skill sets and talents.”

Graduates can look forward to potential careers in multimedia, animation, interactive software development, 3D modelling, graphic design, web programming and web page design.

“In the age of Industry 4.0, employers are not only looking for recruits but also creative and innovative individuals who can problem-solve, contribute and offer solutions.”

The gaming industry is not limited to developing games, as there is a wide spectrum of the ecosystem from developing games and games art to playing games.

“You can be a game commentator, who provides commentary during live video game events as well. There are huge opportunities students can leverage on. I see this rapid growth as exciting and encouraging, potentially it will create many jobs.”

Damian said: “Games artist and designers are in most demand but the industry opens up future pathways for high skills-driven graduates to respond and adapt readily to emerging gaming trends and technologies. They will emerge as high-flying graduates with high income careers.”


The local video games industry is always on the lookout for fresh talents to work with on projects and the best way to nurture gaming talents is through education.

In Malaysia, nine universities and colleges offer gaming courses from game development to eSports. There are Management & Science University, KDU University College and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris besides APU, Limkokwing University, MMU and UTAR, which offer game courses at the degree level.

Others include Clazroom College and Selayang Community College, which offer diploma courses, and the Academy of eSports.

The Game Development programme at MMU exposes students to methodology through to pre-production, production and post-production, equipping students with the basics to design games.

“This is to prepare students to be ready for the industry. During their final year, they are involved in an innovative game project that uses game technologies.

“We have also appointed Wan Hazmer Wan Abd Halim, a well-known public figure in the industry with a portfolio as an ex-game designer of Final Fantasy 15, as industry adviser.

“He will review the university’s game syllabus and how we can improve the programme,” said Quek.

To ensure quality in the delivery of programmes, UTAR appoints professors from established foreign universities, who help moderate the courses and ensure the exam questions are in line with international standards.

“The university also appoints industry advisers from the Malaysian games industry to consult on the curriculum, industry trends and matters related to students’ development in the field of games studies.

“Students are exposed to the industry with frequent games studio visits. Industry experts visit the campus to critique students’ works and students enter competitions to flex their creativity.”

Tan said with this holistic education does not only prepare students for a career in games development but it also serves as a foundation for lifelong learning and to embark on related fields of interest.

In the initial stages of introducing the Computer Games Development degree programme 15 years ago at APU, Wong said it was a challenge to convince parents to enrol their children as they have yet to see the potential of the industry compared to the more popular and well-received IT programmes.

The university took the initiative to create awareness by participating in exhibitions and actively arranged talks and games workshops at schools.

With the growth of the industry and job opportunities, gaming courses are now well-recognised as career pathways.

APU is the first institution here to set up an eSports Academy together with eSports Malaysia. The academy focuses on training pro-gamers. Classes are offered during weekends for beginner, intermediate and expert levels, which run three months.

With a wide array of relevant games programmes and mentors from the industry, Limkokwing University provides students with prospects to develop and hone relevant skills within its creative environment.

An important feature is practical problem-solving with multi-disciplinary teams using current and emerging technologies.

“The programme simulates practices in the gaming industry and students develop more specialised skills in their areas of interest.

“From their first day on campus, students have access to the industry through a series of industry talks by experts to provide them with the necessary skills to design their future,” said Damian.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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