BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH
In February 2006, the Berita Harian, a local newspaper, reported that every year Malaysia produces 60,000 graduates. 20,217 jobless graduates registered themselves with the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia in June 2006. Tables 1 and 2 show the rate of unemployment among graduates according to universities and courses in Malaysia. Table 1: Unemployment among graduates according to universities
In general, there are common perceived reasons as to why graduates are unemployed in Malaysia. Graduates lack skills they are not able to impress employers during interviews because they do not have the right skills like presentation and communication skills which include proficiency in English. In addition, they cannot perform to contribute to the company once they start work because they are not “work-ready”. Malaysian universities are not producing “work-ready” graduates because the country’s education system is too exam-oriented. They produce graduates who are competent theory-wise but have no sufficient practical exposure. Finally, another common relevant reason is related to the mismatch between what the universities are producing and what the Malaysian job-market seeks. Finally, This unemployment dilemma might also be the result of the nature of computer science where skills are always changing and dynamic or, as Hesketh (2000) terms, as ‘converging’.
This phenomenon has caused a commotion in Malaysia where local society is starting to accept that there is no guarantee of employment after a degree. This has made graduates automatically enroll themselves for postgraduate programmes; parents become more concerned about the courses their children are signing up for - or are it their child employment at the end of the study period - and educators no longer stress educational excellence only but have started to recognize that skills need to be taught. Reacting to the problem, the Malaysian Government has taken crucial steps to face this problem. Examples of three such steps taken by the Government are the training scheme for unemployed graduates, teaching more subjects in English at school level, and the introduction of the Electronic Labour Exchange System (ELX) which are detailed below:
1. The training scheme for unemployed graduates:
The objective of the Graduate Training Scheme 2005 is to assist and equip unemployed graduates with specialized skills to enhance employability, including English Language. It is targeted at degree or diploma graduates from 2002 onwards. The Government sponsors the programme fee, which is a generous monthly allowance of RM500.
2. More subjects at school level taught in English:
In 2002, the Government announced that from 2003 onwards, the teaching of Science and Mathematics would be carried out in English, in order to ensure that Malaysia will not be left behind in a world that was rapidly becoming globalized. In addition, this programme aims to arrest the declining command of the language among students. All public universities were urged to change the medium of instruction from Malay to English in science and technology subjects in 2005.
3. The Electronic Labour Exchange (ELX) project:
This project was officially launched by the Minister of Human Resources, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn on 30 May 2006....