Three E’s to employability

Apart from the do’s and don’ts of acing an interview, one needs to be adaptable when on the job.

DRESS up, be confident, make eye contact. These are the common tips featured in “how to ace an interview” articles.

For the jobless fresh graduate, these articles may be a lifeline, to be followed to the letter. However, the results may be unnerving.

During the recent Roundtable on Graduate Employability organised by KDU University College, editor and head Lily Cheah said that she had encountered an interviewee who stared at her, without moving his gaze, the entire time she was talking. It was quite discomforting, she added.

“I know that he was trying to make eye contact but it was not coming across well,” she said, adding that being calm and acting naturally during interviews was an important factor.

“They (interviewers) want to find out what the person really is like,” she said.

Cheah was one of the six panelists during the roundtable that included other individuals from the Government, various industries and an education institution, who gathered to discuss solutions to graduate unemployability.

The Graduate Employability Blueprint 2012-2017, released by the then Higher Education Ministry included employer reports which said that graduates lacked several “key characteristics” — a strong command of English, the right attitude and the ability to solve problems.

Commenting on the current employment situation, Education Ministry senior principal assistant secretary (Planning and Research Division) Dr Guan Eng Chan said 75% of graduates from both the private and public universities were gainfully employed or furthered their studies within six months of graduation.

He congratulated KDU University College on having a 95% graduate employability rate, which was high compared to the national average.

“But to our surprise, the unemployability rate is not that serious because after two years, we conducted longitudinal studies and went back to the old graduates and found that 100% were employed,” he said, adding that this meant that graduates could find jobs if they wanted to.

He said that the other issue contributing to unemployability was institutions not knowing market needs. “Some just jump onto the bandwagon and end up producing too many graduates in the same field,” he said.

Roundtable moderator Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein pointed out that many industries were able to get “the bodies” but were unable to get high quality employees.

by Jeannette Goon.

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