Empowering Graduates for the Future Workforce: Strategies and Skills

I am sharing insights from the Persidangan Pasaran Kerja Graduan 2023, hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education, where industry professionals discussed the future of higher education and the dynamic of job market at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre on 1 November 2023.

One plenary session and three forum sessions contributed to the wide range of perspectives presented at the conference. Collectively, these sessions resonated with a resounding call to action for universities to embrace the challenge of preparing graduates who are not only well-versed in the fundamentals of their chosen fields but also closely attuned to the ever-changing needs of a competitive labour market. I found this feedback invaluable as we strive to equip our students with the necessary tools to succeed in their chosen fields and contribute meaningfully to the workforce.

One salient message that resonated powerfully throughout the conference was the focus on the quality and attitude of today’s graduates. Representatives from relevant fields shared their hopes for and worries regarding the qualities of future graduates. The importance of a responsible work ethic, the capacity to collaborate effectively in a team, the humility to interact with colleagues, and the ability to articulate ideas and communicate effectively was emphasised in addition to technical competence. This discussion highlighted the significance of teaching students a wide variety of skills to prepare them for the complex difficulties of today’s labour market.

The impact of AI and technology on the job market highlights the urgency of integrating these tools into our curriculum, offering AI-based learning and hands-on experiences. Animonsta Studios, a prominent 3D animation company in Malaysia, emphasizes the rapid technological advancements in their industry and outlines key strategies for fresh graduates. These strategies include continuous learning through professional development courses, mastering essential software, and prioritizing adaptability to swiftly implement evolving technologies. Encouraging students to stay updated with the latest tech developments is crucial for their professional growth, ensuring they are well-prepared and competitive in the dynamic field of 3D animation.

An intriguing point that was highlighted during the conference was the evolving dynamic between educators and students. The representative from Maybank emphasized that educators must upgrade their teaching tools and methods to stay current with the latest trends and requirements. This shift is driven by the observation that today’s students are often more technologically advanced and possess different learning styles compared to previous generations. The message here is clear: educators must continually adapt and improve their teaching strategies to cater to the changing needs of their students.

Skills are the new currency in the talent landscape, an idea that was highlighted by a panel from LinkedIn. Skills are now valued more highly by employers than more conventional measures like CGPA. This shift in thinking highlights the importance of graduates acquiring a varied skill set to increase their marketability to future companies.

Google, another prominent contributor to the conference, emphasized the importance of technical role knowledge, cognitive thinking, and problem-solving abilities in job seekers. Google expects candidates to possess a comprehensive grasp of the specific positions they are applying for, and also a deep familiarity with the practical use of Google tools and features to accomplish a variety of tasks. This underlines the significance of universities and lecturers equipping students with not only the requisite technical skills but also the practical proficiency necessary to excel in certain workplace.

In conclusion, the conference offered a variety of useful insights that should be thoroughly considered by academic institutions and educators. It drove home the importance of improving students’ critical thinking skills, adapting to new technology, and aligning academic programs with the demands of the job market. The fast-paced nature of technological advancements requires universities to keep pace with the changes, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

As the Head of UiTM’s Graduate Marketability Unit and a committed committee member of Majlis Kebolehpasaran Graduan Universiti Awam Malaysia (MyGrad), I am committed to implementing these insights and ensuring that our institution remains at the forefront of producing high-quality graduates ready to excel in the contemporary job market. These revelations from the Graduate Job Market Conference will guide our future strategies and endeavors as we prepare our students for success in a dynamic and competitive employment landscape.

Dr Bibi Intan Suraya Murat
Ketua Unit Kebolehpasaran Gaduan
Pejabat Jaringan Industri, Komuniti dan Alumni (ICAN)
Universiti Teknologi MARA