Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

In search of the perfect job

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
An excellent worker is aware that her ability is best judged by her actions and the results she produces.

CONFUCIUS said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I obviously want to be in a career that I love and believe in, and I am lucky enough to be doing exactly that. But not everyone has that privilege. The millennial generation is regarded as entitled and the members (including me) think they deserve it but do not want to put in the effort that our forefathers did.

And to a certain extent, I agree. My parents’ generation did not have the luxury of picking and choosing the careers they wanted; they got a stable job that paid them enough to make ends meet and bring up a family. It did not matter whether they liked the job or not, they just did it because it was expected of them — it was their duty.

Back then, I doubt people took personality tests and went for career counselling to find the perfect job. All they wanted was to be gainfully employed and put food on the table. It was a much simpler and harsher time.

Many young people in the world still face the reality of trying to find whatever job possible to survive. They do not have the luxury that I and many of my friends had of cherry-picking our degree course, then sifting through company profiles and job-hopping to find the right fit.

I understand why the older generation calls us “spoiled brats”. We do not know how good we’ve got it. We constantly complain that our job is not our calling, and our colleagues and bosses just don’t get how we work. We want to chase our dreams and the job is just a stopgap to tide us over. A friend in another company is earning so much more and we can’t wait to quit and move on.

The reality is that at the age of 17 or 18, you may not know your career path. You probably don’t even know yourself very well yet, so how can you be expected to choose a career to dedicate your life to? In your twenties, you may find your calling, but you may not. Even if you know exactly what you want to do, chances are you will have to slog along doing things you do not really want to do, and slowly climb to the top. You may stumble around with no idea of the perfect job for you, and you are just going with the flow till you (hopefully) find it.

A survey in 2016 in Asia found that 60 per cent of millennials, especially those aged 25-34, are constantly seeking another job even if they are employed. Job hoppers also tend to have the lowest job satisfaction. We are constantly dissatisfied with our working life. To make matters worse, we make it a point to let everyone — from our colleagues and our superiors to the random stranger who has the misfortune of conducting business with us — know about our dissatisfaction

Since we hate our jobs, we put in minimal effort and we do not care how well we do, as long as we do not get scolded by the boss and we get our pay at the end of the month. In a lot of workplaces, the 10am or 11am migration to the coffee shop for teh tarik is a common sight. Chatting and gossiping during office hours to the point of decreasing productivity is also part of the norm. “Who cares, we still get paid, right?”

Our predecessors had something we have lost as a generation: pride in their work, regardless of whether they loved their job or not. The two key characteristics that make a good employee are professionalism and pride in work. From the humblest of jobs to the most high powered ones, these two traits distinguish an ineffective worker from a valuable employee.

Let’s say you’re a waiter/waitress at a fast food restaurant. You do not want this job, nor is it a long term career for you. You hate the hours, your colleagues are all right but not that great, and the customers get on your nerves. So you take it out on them. You don’t make eye contact, you can’t even be bothered to say “thank you” or smile at anyone. You are rude and moody because you are miserable, so you make everyone else miserable too!

At the end of the day, you still get your pay, whether you were nice or not. All of us have experienced substandard service and we hate it, yet we probably do the same thing. Contrast that with someone who is professional and has pride in his work. He smiles and welcomes each customer, says “have a nice day” at the end of each encounter, and even the rudest customer does not rattle his professional demeanour because it is the job that he is paid to do. So he does it to the best of his ability, even if he does not like the work. By signing up as an employee, this is what he agreed to do. This is what he should be doing, as part of his job description.


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Unemployed graduates urged to register with Sabah Job Portal

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob

KOTA KINABALU: Graduates who have yet to gain employment are encouraged to register with Sabah Job Portal (SJP) under the Ministry of Education and Innovation, to gain a wider range of job prospects.

Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said companies both local and international could access SJP to scout for potential employees and recruit them based on qualifications and criteria.

This would make it more convenient for employers while at the same time combat graduate unemployment in the state, which is one of the highest nationally.

“Unemployed graduates can create a profile on the SJP platform, which we are working towards linking to government bodies as well as private companies.

“There are currently about 27,000 unemployed people in Sabah so we hope they all register with SJP by the year end,” said Yusof.

The initiative to revive and fortify SJP under the Ministry of Education and Innovation is in line with the target of creating up to 650,000 jobs by the year 2023, said Yusof, which he is optimistic of achieving.

“Given current developments, I can see us achieving that target. With the positive indication of investors looking to set up factories in Sabah, there will surely be job opportunities that come with it.

“It is quite impossible for a country to achieve zero per cent unemployment, but less than five per cent is as good as zero. In the end, we don’t want there to be the issue that there is no place to find a job,” he said

Yusof added that the Ministry was currently focusing on widening the SJP database to provide more options for employers, as well as create a larger platform for graduates.

SJP is not something new but has been under-publicised, said Yusof, which will no longer be the case as the Ministry also plans to link the platform with universities in future.

“There has not been much recruitment through SJP as many companies are still unaware of its existence and turn to their own means of recruiting, such as through advertisements. But we will publicise SJP more aggressively to fully benefit from it.

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Students look East for a wider perspective, global viewpoint

Friday, September 21st, 2018
Malaysian students at Wuhan University pose at the Malaysian Booth at the International Culture Festival to promote the nation’s cultures, costumes and cuisine.

STUDY destinations in Japan and China have seen an increasing number of enrolments from Malaysian higher education students these past few years.

Their affordable fees, the similarity in society and culture, as well as excellence in education and research attract students by the hordes.

There is also an opportunity to master languages such as Mandarin or Japanese during their stay in the countries.

High world university rankings also contribute to the trend. Japan, for instance, has nine universities in the top 200 QS World University Rankings 2017.

A large number of Chinese universities in China are also recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. These include Beijing University, Renmin University of China, Tsinghua University, Beijing Jiaotong University and Beijing University of Science and Technology.

Malaysian students who are interested in furthering their higher education studies in Japan are advised to prepare at least nine months to one year in advance.

Embassy of Japan in Malaysia education attache Sentaro Ishikawa said once students decide to pursue their studies in the Land of the Rising Sun, they will need to research into their choice of programme.

“Take note of application dates and the standardised admission tests as well as admission procedures,” added Ishikawa.

The application period for April 2019 intake is from June through November 2018.

“For courses beginning in September, the application period is usually from December of the previous year through February.”

The student selection for university admission in Japan is a process in which universities independently decide the enrolment through the entrance examination uniquely set by each institution.

The process varies depending on the applicant’s school of choice and the entrance exam commonly consists of one test or a combination such as test of academic ability, interview, short essay, competence and aptitude tests, and Examination for Japanese University (EJU) Examination (evaluates international students’ Japanese language and academic abilities to study at a higher education institution in Japan).

“Students sit the entrance exam by applying directly to the university of their choice and they are advised to check the school’s Application Guideline for International Students for the latest update.”


There are three pathways for Malaysian students to further higher education in Japan.

Those with 12 years of formal education and who are proficient in English can apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in English.

Sentaro Ishikawa counselling a potential student on choosing a tertiary institution in Japan.

“They have to submit a certificate of proficiency in English (IELTS/TOEFL), a certificate of academic achievement, scores of a high school graduation standardised examination in the home country and short essays in English in the first round of screening of applications.

“The second round comprises an interview, which will either be conducted in the country or region where applicants live or via an online interview.

“Those who are proficient in Japanese can apply to sit the EJU Examination and apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in Japanese.

“Japanese universities especially the national-type institutions usually conduct their primary assessment of potential international students based on EJU Examination scores,” added Ishikawa.

Malaysian students, who have no knowledge of the Japanese language but wish to apply for a course conducted in Japanese, have to study the language for at least a year in one of the designated Japanese language institutes before applying for admission into higher education institutions in Japan.

“Those who have less than 12 years of formal education are required to do at least a year of University Preparatory Course (or pre-university programme), inclusive of learning the Japanese language at institutes designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, also known as Monbukagakusho) Japan to be eligible to apply for admission into universities in the country.

“Only 25 Japanese language institutes offer the University Preparatory Course. One is located at Kuala Lumpur, the rest are in Japan.”


University of Malaya’s Special Preparatory Programme to Japan is one of the sponsored courses which send students to study in the country, .

Programme coordinator Mohd Norhaswira Hasan said the course aims to equip students with a basic education in Japanese and three core subjects of science — mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Upon completing the programme, they will further their studies at select Japanese universities.

Students are assisted in the selection of university from a list provided by MEXT.

This selection and application process take place in October, and the results are announced in February.

Students will then make their selection (three choices of university and course) in October. In early November, they sit EJU.

The EJU results, which are announced in January, determine the university the student will enrolling in February.

Mohd Norhaswira, who is an alumnus of the Special Preparatory Programme to Japan, said he applied for the course because of his interest in the Japanese language.

He started learning Japanese as his third foreign language from Form One.

“I was motivated by my Japanese language teacher, Zubaidah Ali, during my early years in secondary school,” said Mohd Norhaswira, who studied mechanical engineering at Nagoya University and graduated in March 2007.


As Japanese universities have become more globalised, there are emerging programmes at universities and graduate schools where students can obtain a degree by taking classes entirely in English.

The number of Malaysian students who pursue courses offered in English at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels is increasing over the years.

“Of course, they also have the chance to learn Japanese at the university. Therefore, they gain a significant advantage, especially if they wish to work in Japan after graduation.

“Over the years, more companies in Japan are hiring international students with diverse backgrounds, who understand Japanese language and culture.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Shafie: Don’t be picky with job choices

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal urged the people especially the young generation not to be picky in their jobs.

Shafie assured the youngsters especially the fresh graduates that no matter what job they are doing, despite the difficulty level, the experience that they obtain will come in handy in the future.

He also reminded the people in the state to grab the opportunity in obtaining whatever job it is as long as it helps them earn a living and to provide for their daily necessities.

“I was informed that unemployment in Sabah has reached 5 per cent which means that there are approximately 100, 000 unemployed people.

“To combat this kind of problem, the state government and private sector will need to work together to create more job opportunities for the people,” he said during a Job Fair at the Oceanus Shopping Mall here yesterday.

Also present was Sabah Health and People’s Well-being Minister Stephen Wong.

There are more than 2,000 job opportunities offered at the fair which are mostly provided by the private sector. He explained that, the state government needs more skilled workforce which is fully-trained, and well-equipped with the right knowledge and skills.

“We need to produce more Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates so that we can create the human capital that is needed,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shafie said that he will be discussing with Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on the minimum wages in Sabah, adding that other issues will be looked into as well.

“Of course Sabah’s population is smaller said Tun Mahathir, but Sabah is bigger in size and it is important to not deprive our people from having basic necessities like treated water in very remote areas like Long Pasia, better education, better roads, and hospitals.

“I know it is an investment that we want to return, but we also have to save these people. I am also glad that the Prime Minister pledges that change will be done,” he added.

On other matter, Shafie reminded the people not to question the appointment of Datuk Peter Hii as the president of the Sandakan Municipal Council.


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More women needed in maritime sector

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
Women comprise only four per cent of the maritime workforce in Asia and the Middle East, compared with 51 per cent for OECD countries and 24 per cent for Europe.

MARITIME shipping is an integral and vital part of the international trade chain and relies on various components for its smooth and safe functioning.

However, the increasing shortage of maritime talent in both operational and leadership roles threatens the sustainability of the sector. The International Chamber of Shipping’s Manpower Report 2015 estimates a shortage of 147,500 qualified and competent seafarers by 2025.

While women comprise 50 per cent of global talent, the International Transport Workers Federation estimates that they form only two per cent of the 1.25 million seafarers worldwide. Most women seafarers are employed in non-technical positions on passenger ships, while women shipmasters, chief engineers, and other officers are few.

Due to it being a traditionally male-dominated sector, women are either unaware of the diverse and rewarding career prospects within the maritime sector or are discouraged from participating because of entrenched social and cultural biases against them in maritime careers as well as gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Shipping companies are also reluctant to employ female seafarers due to practical obstacles, superstitions, and the perception that they are not as capable as men in handling the rigours of the maritime world. With such obstacles, it is no wonder that women receive little or no support from family and society for a career at sea.

The lack of women role models with long and successful maritime careers, in addition to inadequate access to maritime education and training, also make it more challenging for women to participate in the maritime sector, let alone strive towards leadership positions within it.

For the past 30 years, the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) global programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector has worked to address these challenges.

The programme focuses on improving access to maritime education and training for jobs at sea as well as careers in maritime administration, ports, and maritime training institutes.

It also supports the establishment of regional associations for women in the maritime sector across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands in creating a global platform to discuss gender issues, provide opportunities for mentoring, networking and continued professional development, as well as in spearheading the promotion of maritime careers at sea and onshore.

Currently, women comprise only four per cent of the maritime workforce in Asia and the Middle East compared to 51 per cent for OECD countries and 24 per cent for Europe.

The Marine Department Malaysia, with the support of the Ministry of Transport and the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, established the Women in Maritime Association (MyWIMA) in 2017 in response to the IMO’s call have stronger representation of women in the maritime sector in Asia.

MyWIMA serves as the National Chapter of Women in Maritime Associations to implement the IMO Integration of Women in Maritime programme in Malaysia. It also collaborates with regional associations for women in maritime through Women in Maritime Association for Asia (WIMA-Asia).

MyWIMA seeks to enhance the role of women in this sector by allowing greater access to a global network of support, sharing of experiences and expertise, and contribute to continued professional development.

It serves as a vehicle to harness their collective expertise and experience in contributing to the formulation of more effective maritime policies and in promoting Malaysia as a maritime nation. MyWIMA is open to Malaysian women involved in the maritime and marine sectors and encourages their participation in areas such as the marine environment and resources, administration, training, and in regulatory and decision-making roles.

Towards this end, MyWIMA will be hosting a Regional Conference on Women in Maritime Asia in Kuala Lumpur in November 2018. The conference aims to strengthen regional linkages among WIMA-Asia chapters and harmonise a regional work programme. It will be a platform for discussions on how women in maritime Asia can contribute towards better ocean governance in the region and globally.

More importantly, the conference offers the opportunity for women in the maritime world to identify role models and to establish support networks that are essential for realising their full potential.

MyWIMA, in collaboration with the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, is also developing a database of women in the maritime sector aimed at determining their demographics in the sector and in compiling a professional directory of women for promotion and networking.

By Amy Aai Sheau Ye.

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Addressing critical shortage of Chinese speaking tourist guides

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Of student internship, its process and benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The faculty does not require students be given an allowance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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Qualities of a credible chief secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Connected mobility industry to generate one million jobs

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Multi-disciplinary degree to prepare for working world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noor Azlan Ghazali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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