Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Choosing the wrong course?

In a Malay Mail article yesterday - it was highlighted that a substantial portion of the registered 66,000 unemployed graduates are from some of the most popular courses.
Business administration, computer and information technology, and engineering are the most sought-after courses by many school leavers.

This has resulted in a high number of unemployment among graduates from these disciplines – 19,900 business administration graduates, 9,500 from computer and information technology, and 7,500 engineering graduates.
While it may not have been intended, the article may have inadvertently sent the message to prospective university students that the above courses are to be avoided due to low demand for their skills post-graduation. I'd like to state that this will probably be a wrong "read" of the above statistics.

First of all, while the number of graduates unemployed from these courses are the highest, the article did not give any statistics on proportion of candidates from each of these faculties are unemployed. This information will be key, as given that the above courses are the largest faculties in the universities in Malaysia (or even inclusive of overseas universities), then obviously the likelihood will be the absolute numbers of unemployed from these faculties will be largest is very high. For e.g., the number of students taking B. Sc. Chemistry probably do not exceed 2,000 students in the entire Malaysia per annum, and will hence never make it to the top unemployed list, even *if* possibly up to 50% of them remain unemployed.

Secondly, a point which I will further comment in subsequent blog entries, many of the students of these courses, particularly those in IT and Engineering should not have "qualified" for these courses in the first place. It is my opinion that many of the students from STPM/SPM who have been accepted into these courses in the Malaysian universities, should never have qualified for these courses in the first place. The entry level of the courses in some of the local universities has been set so low, that these poor students will never have a chance to perform credibly in these courses - resulting in their unemployment status. For e.g., I've seen many many graduates will very poor results in Mathematics (and Additional Mathematics) in SPM/STPM but qualified for these courses. With a poor foundation in Mathematics, it would have been better for these candidates to have taken other courses which they may have performed better. Without giving undue disrespect to the weaker candidates, if you don't have at least a B4 for your additional mathematics for SPM, avoid Engineering or Computer Science courses! In Singapore, the requirements are even higher with candidates accepted into these courses only if they have a minimum "B" grade for the Further Mathematics in 'A' Levels.

Further to the second point above, the courses in Computer Science and Engineering in many of the local universities are already very lacking in academic rigour. With a large number of candidates graduating with CGPAs below 3.0, it is unsurprising that this lot becomes "unemployable" in the Malaysian private sector.

The bottomline is, students should pick courses based on their capabilities and not based on what's apparently "in-demand" out there (e.g., IT courses). If you are not cut out for IT or Engineering, putting yourselves through the courses is not going to make you more employable in the IT or Engineering markets. I can testify that there is a shortage of IT candidates in Malaysia, and we need more capable IT staff. However, that does not mean that we'll employ anybody who receives a piece of degree paper (no matter how bad his grades are abilities are).


esk50 said...

"It is my opinion that many of the students from STPM/SPM who have been accepted into these courses in the Malaysian universities, should never have qualified for these courses in the first place. "

it's the same thing at private colleges. the rationale is giving the weak students a second chance. do you agree with that?

Anonymous said...

Everyone deserves a second chance..problem is a proven track record...not just jumpng through hoops..
Some may have to repeat SPM or otherwise to prove those basic skills.
Maybe Vocational School would be a good alternative...say leave after form 3 to polytech graduate as an electrician becomes an electrical engineer..2yrs in vocation + 2 yrs work experience + 2yrs in Uni...double the time but graduating at the same time as those doing pre-u & SPM..

Anonymous said...

2009 : many jobs are looking for candidates with a qualification in Business Administration (Degree).
Source : Star Newspapers Classifields