Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

World-class medical education available locally

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

NUMed offers students world-class education locally with a global perspective

WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?

Perhaps, this is a question you often encounter during childhood.

Fast forward to today, you are ready to fly the nest to pursue your ambition.

However, choosing a university is one of the biggest challenges and it can be overwhelming if you are not sure how to go about it.

To ease your decision-making, take into consideration the key factors that you would be comfortable with while you study such as distance from home, location of the institution, course content, the institution’s community and facilities, and most importantly, the cost and credibility of the institution.

If a career in medicine or biomedical sciences is what you are working towards, one place to develop your aspirations is Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) in EduCity, Johor Baru, which has a track record of almost two centuries of academic excellence.

Having marked its 10th year in Malaysia in 2019, this international branch campus of NUMed draws on the legacy of Newcastle University in the UK, established in 1834 as

a medical school, and has always been at the forefront of research and teaching, with its reputation externally confirmed as of the highest international quality.

The establishment of NUMed here in Malaysia means that students in Malaysia and the region will now have the advantage of getting the best of both worlds – quality UK medical education in Malaysia at an affordable price.

The programmes of study lead to the award of the same degrees as those who go to the parent campus in the UK.

Additionally, NUMed’s curriculum is also designed to complement curiosity-driven self-study and help students develop learning habits that are beneficial in life-long learning.

Innovative programmes are delivered to students by highly motivated and well-qualified international academics through top-notch facilities.Innovative programmes are delivered to students by highly motivated and well-qualified international academics through top-notch facilities.

The essential factor for Newcastle University’s position as a world-leading medical education provider is the quality of the educational experience it offers.

On top of excellent facilities and vibrant student life, NUMed curates quality-related activities which are inextricably linked to contributing to the overall experience – well-designed innovative programmes are delivered to students by highly motivated and well-qualified academics from around the world, complemented by carefully considered student support strategies and a firm ethic of scholarship.

NUMed offers a pre-undergraduate programme – Foundation in Biological and Biomedical Sciences – and two undergraduate programmes: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences (BMS).

While all five years of the MBBS programme are delivered in Malaysia, students can have the opportunity to study in the UK during the fourth year. In addition, students may also have the opportunity of studying for an extra year in the UK for an intercalated research qualification at either Bachelor or Master level.

As for BMS, the degree programme has two parts – two academic years at NUMed which mirror the programme offered in the UK, and one academic year at the Newcastle campus with research-led teaching and an intensive research project in one of the highly regarded research institutes in Newcastle University Medical School in the UK.

NUMed also offers three highly interactive online postgraduate programmes from Newcastle University UK, delivered online via platforms such as Virtual Learning Environment and Blackboard with face-to-face workshops and short-term on-campus sessions available for selected programmes.

NUMed is currently accepting applications for the September intake for its Foundation

in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences (BMS), and

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programmes.

For details, email, call +607-555 3800, WhatsApp +6011-1231 5411 or +6012-7849456, or visit the NUMed website.

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Work Matters! Gratitude – the missing link

Friday, July 31st, 2020
The writer with Dr. Philip George.The writer with Dr. Philip George.

“To wake at dawn with a winged heart, and give thanks for another day of loving; to rest noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude; and then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.”

These are the beautiful words of Khalil Gibran, the renowned Lebanese writer, poet and visual artist, who is also considered a modern-day philosopher. It is the very essence of gratefulness.

Recently, I wrote about two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, who have done numerous studies on gratitude.

Their research shows that gratefulness is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

If you want to feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve your health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships, you first need to be thankful. Just like Khalil Gibran so elegantly describes it, in the quote above.

However, through experience and the hard knocks life offers up, you know that some people have a more grateful character than others. For some, gratitude just doesn’t come as easy.

I’ve always simply assumed that if a person is schooled properly to be appreciative of everything around them, there is a higher likelihood that they will have a grateful disposition.

But it seems that genetics also plays a role in why some people feel and express gratitude much easier than others. In a study published by the Journal of Research in Personality in 2007, Michael Steger from the University of Louisville and his colleagues, offer evidence of this.

Their research shows that identical twins, who essentially have the same DNA, had similar levels of gratitude when compared to fraternal twins. If you are a twin, but you are not identical, you share only 50 percent of DNA.

Sara B. Algoe another researcher whose work is published by Oxford University Press in 2014 says that specific genes may underlie a person’s grateful or less grateful disposition.

These, together with other similar studies indicate that there may be a genetic component to gratitude.

Aside from your genes, there also personality factors that may hamper you from being appreciative.

Researchers from Washington University published an article titled “Thieves of thankfulness: Traits that inhibit gratitude” in 2016. They studied the individual features of a person, which prevents gratefulness.

The study concludes that narcissism, cynicism, and materialism obstruct feelings of gratitude in you.

Greed and materialism both involve coveting what you do not have, so it’s no surprise that these emotions are the complete opposite to gratitude.

Quite frankly, it is impossible for you to be grateful if you are greedy or materialistic at the same time. You can see this clearly with some people you meet. I have even seen this with some of my extended family!

In the consumerist society that exists right now, you tend to focus on what you lack, or on what other people have that you don’t, whereas gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for all that you already have.

You need to recognise that perhaps your genes don’t predispose thankfulness in you, or your personality traits are a barrier to gratefulness, and that you might be too consumed to get ahead in your career or in life, that you only tend to focus on materialism.

But you cannot deny that all the prevalent research indicates that it is gratitude that encourages joy, tranquility, empathy, awareness, and enthusiasm.

Grateful people engage much more with their surroundings, which simply leads to better personal growth, and feelings of purpose, meaning, and connectedness.

I have a daily segment on Lite Malaysia, a leading English language radio station, where I share a platform with a few other experts in their respective professions.

One of whom is Dr. Philip George, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Addiction Specialist and a Professor.

Recently, Dr. George together with Leong Hui Yen published a paper discussing the effects of the lockdown, and its toll on our mental health. The ongoing uncertainty puts pressure on our emotions and resilience.

In the paper, they suggest that concentrating on things you can be grateful for, helps you cope with anxiety and the negativity that your mind may experience.

For those of you who find it hard to be grateful, maybe you can start by using these techniques.

Dr. George and his associate recommend ways to foster gratitude.

This includes keeping a gratitude journal where you can write down three things that have gone well for you in the day, and identify the cause. And, to also think about people who have inspired you, and what was most noteworthy about them.

Significantly, they suggest that you should engage in “mental subtraction”, which is where you imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.

This is the way to build your gratitude “muscle”.

Hasn’t the Covid-19 pandemic shown you that gratitude is perhaps the missing link in your life? Isn’t this what you should be focusing on?

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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Govt to propose new amendment for flexible working arrangements

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking towards implementing flexible working arrangements between employers and employees for the post-Covid-19 new normal, says Deputy Human Resource Minister Awang Solahudin Hashim.

“The ministry plans on introducing a new amendment that will detail the flexible working arrangement in line with the new normal post-Covid-19.

“This includes the flexibility in working hours, working days and workplace, where it has to be agreed upon by employers and the employees,” he said when answering a question raised by Jugah Anak Muyang (IND-Lubok Antu) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.

He said employees must put in writing to employers to change their existing employment contracts to allow the implementation of the new flexible working arrangements.

He added that the implementation of the flexible working arrangement would help ease the daily expenditure of employees in connection with work.

Awang also informed lawmakers that Cabinet had approved implementation of “floor wage” or minimum wage of RM1,200 for employees at all levels.

At present, he said the RM1,200 floor wage had been implemented in 56 city councils nationwide compared to the previous minimum wage of RM1,100.

“The proposals have been approved by the Cabinet, and God willing, the amendments (the Employment Act 1955) will be tabled in Parliament in this session,” he added.

On weaning the nation’s dependence on foreign labour, he said the government had decided to limit foreign workers in all but three sectors.

“We have decided to allow foreign workers for only three sectors, namely the construction, agriculture and plantations sector.

“We want the other sectors to be filled up by locals.

“This will be part of our guidelines to decrease foreign worker intake, ” he added.

Awang said the move was necessary to ensure job opportunities for locals following the economic impact due to Covid-19 global pandemic.

At present, he said that there were some 2.1 million registered foreign workers in the country.

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Pathway to success

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Berjaya University College’s alumni have gone on to be restaurant owners, award-winning mixologists, winner of MICE International events, among others.

IF you received your SPM/STPM results in March this year, read on. This is for you, school-leaver.

Embark now on the next chapter of your life. Instead of sitting at home wondering about what comes next, start researching on what matters most to you.

Berjaya University College’s flagship programmes – Bachelor of Hospitality Management (Hons), Bachelor of Events Management (Hons) and Bachelor of Tourism Management (Hons) – are specially-designed to ensure its graduates of high calibre are employed by top-notch organisations all over the world.

Over the decades, its alumni have proven themselves as well-known restaurant owners, award-winning mixologists, winner of MICE International events, and many more.
Berjaya University College is the only culinary school in Malaysia that offers Diploma in Heritage Cuisine.Berjaya University College is the only culinary school in Malaysia that offers Diploma in Heritage Cuisine.

The Bachelor of Culinary Arts Management (Hons) or Diploma in Culinary Arts are qualifications that get you around the world.

Recognised by the World Chef Association, these qualifications will land you in your dream kitchen. You will see yourself traveling around the world, showcasing your passion, and seeing smiles on faces from all walks of life as they savour your cooking.

To keep our Malaysian heritage alive, Berjaya University College is the only culinary school in the country that offers Diploma in Heritage Cuisine. This certification makes you unique in your own way, and as you travel around the world, it gives you a platform to stand out from the crowd.
‘Our commitment is to ensure our students get well-deserved tertiary education and ensure they are employable in the industry,’ says Berjaya University College chief executive officer Dr See Hoon Peow.‘Our commitment is to ensure our students get well-deserved tertiary education and ensure they are employable in the industry,’ says Berjaya University College chief executive officer Dr See Hoon Peow.

If you think that mass communication is suited for you, consider the Bachelor of Communication (Hons). It opens a multitude of doors to a variety of professional opportunities – from journalism, public relations to media, career opportunities are vast, to say the least.

Berjaya University College is also one of the very few private higher institutions in Malaysia to offer Bachelor of Finance and Investment Management (Hons). With the current trend calling for fintech talents, this degree will surely lead you to greater heights.

Worried about difficulty getting a job after graduation? All these doubts will be cleared once you step into Berjaya University College.

The university college strives to ensure its students are employable and well-informed of all industrial knowledge. It imparts not only academic knowledge but also essential survival skills for the working world.

Berjayans will be a robust workforce in specific industries since they are the product of professional industrial coaching complementing the undivided attention given to every student.

Berjaya Higher Education prepares students to join the workforce as skilled graduates.Berjaya Higher Education prepares students to join the workforce as skilled graduates.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought home the realisation that skills are vital for survival. If you did not make it with SPM, Berjaya TVET College offers an alternative pathway to join the workforce as a skilled graduate.

Berjaya TVET College provides a wide variety of choices from certificates to diplomas in Business and Accounting, Digital Marketing, Web Development, Food Preparation and Production, International Business Leadership, and more.

Make an appointment to see how classes are conducted in these pandemic times – how Berjaya has made social distancing its priority. The classes are small in number, because Berjaya believes that small-sized class = quality + attention.

For more information about courses offered, visit Berjaya Higher Education

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Stimulus injection working, as re-opening gathers pace

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Some analysts have unfairly criticised Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his reluctance to dip into the government’s coffers and introduce more stimulus measures to help in the recovery of the ailing economy. - NST file pic

Some analysts have unfairly criticised Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his reluctance to dip into the government’s coffers and introduce more stimulus measures to help in the recovery of the ailing economy. – NST file pic

THE latest figures released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) in which the unemployment rate for May is increasing at a slower rate is a good sign that the stimulus package announced by the government during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic had worked.

The unemployment rate in May rose by 0.3 to 5.3 per cent from April 5. In terms of the number of persons out of jobs, there were 826,100 unemployed persons in May compared to 778,800 in April – an increase of 47,300 persons.

This compares favourably with the March to April figures when the 610,000 unemployed persons in March (for a 3.9 per cent jobless rate) ballooned to 778,800 in April for a jobless rate of 5 per cent – a staggering increase of 168,800 jobless people (1.1 per cent) compared to the increase of 47,300 jobless people (0.3 per cent) between April and May.

Of course, going by the absolute number of 826,100, the number of unemployed is quite a high number. The highest was first recorded in 1982 at 7.4 per cent.

The good numbers in May could also be due to the result of the gradual re-opening of the economy, which began on May 4 with the introduction of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). Going by other indicators, there is a case for an optimistic outlook on the unemployment situation and the economy as a whole. This is borne out by the facts that:

The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an indicator of manufacturing performance, rose sharply to 51.0 in June – its highest since Sept 2018, up from 45.6 in May. The Industrial Production Index (IPI) rebounded by 18.2 per cent in May from April; and saw a 19.1 per cent gain in manufacturing sales to RM90.2 billion in May compared to the previous month.

These rapid turnarounds in production since the severe collapse in April suggest a very strong possibility for a V-shaped recovery. Moreover, the Penjana stimulus which was announced in early June would have worked itself into the economy by the time the June unemployment figure is announced in mid-August.

What’s more, on July 7, Bank Negara (BNM) cut benchmark interest rate by another 25 basis-point to a record low of 1.75 per cent – the fourth since January. Malaysian benchmark rates have never been cut below 2 per cent, even at the height of global financial crises of the past.

More optimistic outlooks are on the cards, with the recent announcement of the government’s health accreditation scheme for hotels and the agreement forged between Malaysia and Singapore to gradually relax people-to-people movement by August. - NST file picMore optimistic outlooks are on the cards, with the recent announcement of the government’s health accreditation scheme for hotels and the agreement forged between Malaysia and Singapore to gradually relax people-to-people movement by August. – NST file pic

Hopefully, this combination of fiscal stimulus and monetary policy will stimulate the economy so that even in the worse-case scenario of a W-shaped recovery, the detrimental effect of the pandemic on the economy is greatly cushioned via the judicious use of fiscal and monetary policies.

Some analysts have unfairly criticised Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his reluctance to dip into the government’s coffers and introduce more stimulus measures to help in the recovery of the ailing economy.

However, he is astute enough to know that full recovery is dependent on Malaysia attaining the status of a country that is free from Covid-19 infection, and even if the infection is under control, he is aware that a second wave of infection cannot be ruled out.

That is why he does not metaphorically put all the eggs in one basket through announcing stimulus after stimulus ad infinitum. He leaves some for contingency in case a second wave of attack materialises.

In between stimulus, he allows monetary policy to be tweaked so that if the economy recovers in the short to medium term, there will be more monies for the government which can be used for future stimulus should the situation deteriorate.

More optimistic outlooks are on the cards, with the recent announcement of the government’s health accreditation scheme for hotels and the agreement forged between Malaysia and Singapore to gradually relax people-to-people movement by August. These efforts will definitely boost the tourism sector.

Muhyiddin has already mapped out an exit strategy for the economy through his 6Rs strategies: Resolve, Resilience, Restart, Recovery, Revitalise and Reform. Perhaps the fifth phase of Revitalise will take place once Malaysia is declared Covid-19 free.

By Jamari Mohtar.

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Stay positive: Things will get better

Sunday, July 19th, 2020
IT’S almost eight months into the year and while the Covid-19 situation is improving, the job market – especially for fresh graduates – is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.

Last month, the World Bank in its Malaysia Economic Monitor report said Malaysia’s unemployment rate stood at 5% as of April.

It noted that while the movement control order was necessary to curb the virus outbreak, its implementation has weighed heavily on domestic demand, jeopardising the sustainability of many businesses and leading to higher unemployment.

“Graduate unemployment rate will likely increase in the coming months, with new graduates entering the labour market in the second half of the year and many employers reducing or postponing new hiring in the current downturn,” the report said.

The Malaysian Employers Federation had earlier estimated that unemployment could reach up to two million this year, or a staggering rate of 13%.

This may have far reaching effects on youngsters eager to join the workforce and start contributing to the household expenses.

Eventhough organisations are downsizing their operations to survive in a post Covid-19 climate, HELP University Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Education and English dean Dr Gerard Louis reminded students that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Not all companies are adopting a hiring freeze. Certain sectors have even increased their hiring capacity.

“In every crisis, there are still opportunities.

“The question for graduating students, however, is how adaptable they are to the new workplace realities.

“If they have a few months left before graduating, they must reevaluate their skills, see where they fall short and reequip themselves with the necessary competencies required by IR 4.0,” he said.

A counselling psychologist by training, Dr Gerard said it’s easy for students to feel despondent, depressed and anxious in situations like these.

“Those who are resilient, cognitively flexible and have the ability to bounce back are those who know how to make necessary adjustments.

“Look for opportunities, be adaptable and change the way you look at the situation because it will allow you to look at the future with hope and anticipation.

“Talk to people who can point you in the right direction, such as career coaches and counsellors, and spend your time wisely by reading the news or going on social media to find available opportunities.

“Touching base with companies and start-ups by sharing ideas and proposals can also be an advantage and open up opportunities.”

Malaysian Mental Health Association president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said graduates must be realistic and accept that securing their dream job may take a little more time and effort.

“They will undeniably face stress when competing for job opportunities. It is likely that some will succumb to depression.

“The psychological state of fresh graduates and those who lose their jobs could escalate into a crisis if nothing is done to help them deal with the impact of Covid-19,” he said.

While it is expected that young graduates will likely be angry and upset, Dr Andrew said they must be optimistic that things will eventually return to normal.

In the meantime, they can consider opportunities in sectors that would not have been their first choice.

“Others might want to enhance their knowledge by upskilling themselves so they have an edge when things get better.

“They should focus on what they can control rather than being preoccupied with what is out of their hands.

“Identify areas to reduce expenses and continue to look for opportunities despite the gloomy situation,” he advised.

Those who are feeling their mental health deteriorate, should seek professional help, he said, adding that there are non-governmental organisations that offer affordable and free services.

‘Rebrand jobs, reskill workers’

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

Adapt to survive: There must be a willingness among workers to be mobile, learn new skills and adapt to new and more challenging work environments, experts say.

PETALING JAYA: Policies are needed to encourage companies to hire more locals and curb rising unemployment rates in the current recovery period and even when the Covid-19 pandemic is over, say employer groups and workers’ unions.

Long-term planning is essential in changing the perception that the jobs that many foreign workers usually take up are “socially undesirable”.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said in the short-term, tax breaks would be vital in enticing companies to hire locals.

However, it was more important to provide grants for companies to move towards mechanisation so that certain manual tasks would not be as laborious.

“For example, if you go to Thailand, those who are manning and pushing the trolleys are not foreigners but locals – even women.

“They use simple machinery to help them carry out their tasks,” he said.

Shamsuddin said that government assistance would be crucial in encouraging the employment of locals, especially as many companies were in dire financial straits.

However, in the long run, skills in such jobs must be certified in order to shed the false perception that these jobs were socially unacceptable, he said.

“Currently, we have the SKM or Malaysian Skills Certification (a formal, nationally recognised certificate issued by the government), so that is one of the ways we can ‘professionalise’ such jobs.

“We need to show that these jobs are done by skilled people,” he said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor said there should be more policies to encourage employers to hire locals.

He suggested that one way to do so would be to mandate a certain local-foreigner ratio, such as hiring 10 locals to each foreign worker.

Companies, he added, must also consider whether foreign workers were truly a necessity, and only hire them if they are lacking in manpower.

“From what we observed from the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysians are not choosy about jobs – but it remains to be seen whether they are given opportunities,” he said.

Halim added that more companies should invest in technology to increase their productivity and make jobs more attractive.

“We must rebrand jobs and reskill workers – employers must be brave enough to invest so that the workforce can be trained,” he said.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said that manufacturers have been encouraged to fill their vacancies with locals, especially in skilled labour and management positions.

“Foreign workers are usually employed for general operator-level jobs, which employers find difficult to be filled by locals due to the nature of the job and the expectations of locals.

“FMM and its members are cognisant of the fact that the unemployment rate amongst locals is on the rise with the figure reaching 5.3% in May.

“Despite offering higher wages, employers continue to face high turnover and absenteeism among local workers, expectations of better and cleaner work environments, and an unwillingness to work in shifts and do overtime,” he said.

Manufacturers, he said, hire foreign workers out of necessity as they were unable to fill these positions with locals.

It is also not cheap to hire foreign workers, Soh said, adding that on top of the salary, employers also have to bear additional costs such as the recruitment fee at the source country, levy, medical examination, security clearance, accommodation and travel.

He said companies that had been able to maintain their employment levels beyond six months of the first outbreak of Covid-19, including those that continue to hire during the recovery movement control order period, should be given additional tax deductions.

He also called for retrenched workers to be absorbed by manufacturers that are still growing and struggling to meet global orders, particularly manufacturers of personal protective equipment.

“However, there must be a willingness among workers to be mobile, learn new skills and adapt to new and more challenging work environments,” he added.

Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association vice-president Peter Benjamin said that locals were still not interested in working in the plantation sector even though it pays well, with various allowances.

“The sector has not been able to attract local talent for more than a decade now. The stigma of plantation jobs being dirty, difficult and dangerous still turns locals away.

“This is not just for operational jobs but also managerial positions,” he said.

Benjamin said several plantation companies had been advertising in newspapers and media of various languages to hire locals.

“The job listings note that we provide free housing, free utilities and a range of benefits on top of the standard remuneration package.

“But few people enquired,” he said.

Benjamin added that the younger generation preferred jobs in other industries and to work in the city as they had been groomed by their parents who had worked in estates to seek a better future elsewhere.

“The government must realise that Malaysians are not interested in these jobs.

“For the plantation sector’s

survival, we will have no choice but to rely on foreign workers,” he added.

With the Malaysian economy ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of unemployed rose to 826,100 persons in May.

However, there are still jobs available in the country.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan had said that about 40,000 jobs would be created for locals through the Human Resources Development Fund’s National Economic Recovery Plan.

Targeting local workers and jobless graduates, jobs and skills training will also be offered under the initiative.

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Online platforms erase barriers to learning

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020
Online learning will be a new norm for teachers and students, even when the pandemic is over.  - Pic source: freepik.comOnline learning will be a new norm for teachers and students, even when the pandemic is over. – Pic source:

EDUCATION has undergone an abrupt change from physical classroom to online platforms at scale.

In meeting the urgent demand for online learning, the development of digital collaboration and communication tools have accelerated.

According to Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Malaysia general manager Jordy Cao, Alibaba Group has initiated an “Online Classroom” programme for free via DingTalk — a communication and collaboration platform.

The programme has benefited six million teachers from 140,000 schools across China, who are conducting online classes for 130 million students.

“DingTalk can deliver low-latency, high-definition video conferencing involving more than 300 people simultaneously at no cost. It also allows free group live broadcast to up to 45,000 audiences at the same time,” said Cao.

He added that DingTalk has also been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as an effective digital learning solution as schools face closures over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online learning is a great supplement to conventional teaching methods, Cao said.

“It allows students to arrange time flexibly, reduces the cost for textbooks and lowers the threshold for accessing educational resources.

“Schools, universities and students are encouraged to be more open-minded and make better use of digitised tools and resources to make the transformation to online learning easier and more efficient,” he said.

Recently, Xiamen University Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alibaba Cloud to enhance education and cloud computing skills of its staff and students.

Cao said the collaboration between universities and enterprises will benefit both sides and empower future generations.

“Such tie-up allows students and staff of the university to get unparalleled access to resources put together by Alibaba Cloud. Besides, our team plays an advisory role to ensure that the course content remains updated, relevant and focused on the future needs of the industry, so students can better plan their careers in a competitive job market.

“To date, 12 Malaysian universities have joined the community, and over 800 students have benefited from the online training to pursue a professional certification to better prepare them for their future in the digital era.

“Online learning will be a new norm for teachers and students, even when the pandemic is over.

“Meanwhile, developers of online learning tools will strive to improve user experience, thereby increasing their popularity further,” he said.

By Murniati Abu Karim.

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Rough road to jobs for new graduates

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

THE Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped people from travelling and closed businesses for some time, but life still went on for everyone in the world.

In China, June and July are graduation months, and a record high of 8.74 million will be graduating from colleges throughout the country this year.

Due to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, they had to complete the rest of their courses via distance learning and will not be having proper graduation ceremonies like their seniors did.

But just like their seniors, they will be faced with the pressure of looking for and getting a job. And they will be in for greater challenges and tougher times in view of the global recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Given the fact that some 30% of graduates were unable to find jobs during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) period, the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a more devastating impact, could make the situation even worse.

One netizen said she started applying for jobs late last year.

“I went for a few interviews, but now they are saying they have stopped recruiting new employees,” she said.

“Those who were already working were sacked or had their pay

cut by their companies, not talking about us who have zero experience,” another Internet user said.

But there were also youngsters who were optimistic about their future and said they would be more aggressive in sending out job applications.

At a job recruitment drive in Wuhan city, Hubei province, a mother who was collecting information for her son was recorded on video.

“He is studying foreign language in Macau and graduating this year, I hope he can come back here to work.

“Before this (the pandemic), I saw a lot of recruitment ads in his field but now there are fewer,” she said in the video clip, which was posted on Weibo.

Jiang Juntao, who studied broadcasting and hosting art, knows she cannot be too picky about jobs.

Knowing full well that the road ahead will not be easy for a freshman in the working world, she is grabbing whatever opportunity comes her way.

She is lucky as she has secured a position as a TV host with an online television network.

“Let’s start work first and gain some experience,” said the 24-year-old from Shangdong province, adding that job scope, workplace location and company welfare are among her considerations in her search for a job.

“Like many youngsters, we are not worried about employment but rather the inability to find an ideal job. Dreams and reality are contradictory after all,” she added.

To boost employment, the Chinese government has opened up more vacancies for civil servants and army personnel and created extra positions in government-linked companies for fresh graduates.The business sector, especially small and medium enterprises, are also being encouraged to expand their recruitment drive.

More loans will be offered for those who wish to start businesses.

The Education Ministry has also expanded the enrolment of postgraduate and degree top-up programmes for school-leavers, and created more jobs in education and research fields, among others.

Malaysian students who graduated from Chinese universities are also facing the pressure of getting jobs.

For Joey Ng, the pandemic has ruined her plan to remain in China upon completing her broadcasting course.

“Based on my field of study, I think I would have better opportunities in China, given the fact that the country has more than 300 television stations.

“Now that I cannot stay in China, I will try to find a job in Malaysia. This is not entirely bad news for me because I’m happy that I can stay in Malaysia,” said the graduate from the Communication University of China in Beijing.

Like other Malaysian students studying in China, Ng, who returned home for the winter break in early January, has been stranded since the Covid-19 outbreak led to both countries closing their borders.

Although the situation in China has improved, the country has yet to welcome the return of foreign students, who are currently doing their courses via distance learning.

Ryan Lim, who graduated with a degree in Human Geography and Urban-Rural Planning from Beijing Normal University, has started flipping though newspapers and online recruiting sites.

“I’m just doing my own survey on prospective jobs. I cannot send out any applications yet as I have not received my certificate,” he said, adding that the academic credentials would be mailed to him by the university.

He is trying his luck in the freight forwarding or media industry.

The Selangor-born Lim, who did in-depth research and analysis on the East Coast Rail Link project, a 640km-railway link connecting different parts of the east coast with the west coast region in Malaysia for his thesis, believes he can contribute his knowledge in the field.But he is also interested in working as a reporter and would like to explore more options.

“Before this, I planned to work in Beijing or Shenzhen, but things have changed,” said Lim, who prefers to be optimistic about his future.Welcome to the working world and good luck, youngsters!

By Beh Yuen Hui.

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Jobs are available out there

Friday, June 26th, 2020

AT the end of March, the Department of Statistics conducted an online survey to gauge the impact of the movement control order (MCO).

The results were pretty depressing. Almost 50% of self-employed Malaysians were out of work after the MCO was imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The online survey, conducted from March 23–31, recorded responses from a total of 168,182 respondents aged 15 and above.

I believe these figures would have increased after more than two months of layoffs and job cuts.

Adapting to the new normal is proving hard for a lot of Malaysians, but for some, adversity has not stopped them from earning a living.

Personal fitness trainer Shahril Nizam Abdul Aziz turned to his hobby to sustain his family when his income was affected during the three months of the MCO.

Even though he kept his job at a local gym, he was hit hard because the bulk of his income came from private training sessions.

“I turned to fishing to take care of my wife and daughter,” Shahril told me.

The 36-year-old now heads to Sungai Besar once or twice a week. He rents a boat from the locals there and goes out to sea with two helpers.

He sells his catch – fish, crabs and prawns – to his fitness clients and friends and this has helped him supplement his basic salary from the gym.

Now that his gym has reopened, Shahril has resumed his private training sessions and will slowly cut back on his fishing trips.

“It’s hard work and takes me the whole day, but I’m glad I was able to earn enough to tide me over during these tough times,” he said.

Another friend of mine, who lost her job at an advertising agency, has started work at a real estate company selling auction property.

She told me there was a spike in properties for auction as the pandemic took its toll on businesses.

“I’m not earning as much as I used to, but at least my account servicing skills are being put to use, dealing with potential clients and agents,” she said.

Since the conditional MCO was initiated on May 4 and the economy started its gradual recovery, I have been getting requests for recommendations for a number of jobs such as restaurant manager, public relations executive and personal assistant.

I am not really surprised because although it is true that many people have lost their jobs, if you peruse social media, you find vacancies in food and beverage, real estate, marketing and many other sectors.

On Monday, it was announced that as many as 40,000 jobs will be created for Malaysians who are jobless following the Covid-19 pandemic, through the Human Resources Development Fund’s National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).

“Job opportunities will be opened up in stages within six months from now,” Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan was quoted as saying.

This is coupled with the fact that the government has stopped any new intake of foreign workers in all sectors until the end of 2020 to allow Malaysians to be given priority to fill up vacancies.

Saravanan said the ministry would evaluate the move by year-end to see if it was effective. He advised job seekers not to be choosy to help the country reduce its dependence on foreign workers.

“Don’t think about waiting for a suitable job because the right job might not exist in the immediate future,” he said. It is not only about securing the right job for your particular skill set or qualification. Jobs that did not exist 10 years ago are now available to millennials, especially on social media.

The example of the “Sugu Pavithra” couple is a great lesson.

S. Pavithra, a homemaker from Sungai Siput, started posting videos of herself cooking on YouTube in January and quickly garnered a huge following, thanks in part to her humble personality and flawless command of Bahasa Malaysia.

Her cooking channel has paid off and has allowed her husband (M. Sugu) to quit his job and assist her to produce more content.

The moral of this story is that there are jobs available out there. Don’t despair if you have lost your job or are in the process of being laid off. Fall back on your savings and hopefully your severance pay would be enough to tide you over for the short term, but this is when you should start scanning for job vacancies.

And if you have a hidden talent, social media could just be the ticket for you to start your own business.

By Brian Martin.

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