Can’t blame varsities for rising unemployment, UKM don says

BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaya Vice-Chancellor Datuk Seri Noor Azlan Ghazali speaks during Jobstreet.com’s Graduate Employability & Industrial Transformation Forum 2017 in Bangi May 3, 2017. — Picture by Choo Choy May


BANGI, May 3 — The rising unemployment among local graduates today cannot be taken as a sign of deteriorating quality of public universities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaya Vice-Chancellor Datuk Seri Noor Azlan Ghazali said today.

Speaking at a forum on jobs organised by headhunting firm Jobstreet here, Noor Azlan claimed even graduates from top universities in the world are struggling to find jobs in today’s market.

This indicates that there were other factors contributing to the problem, although he stopped short of detailing them out.

“If we keep using employment as a measure of how good our universities are, then I don’t think we will progress,” he told the forum.

“I have data...if you look at the number of jobless graduates from schools like Harvard, you’d be surprised,” he added.

Youth unemployment reached more than three times the national unemployment rate in 2016, exceeding more than 11 per cent compared to just 3.1 per cent at national level, Bank Negara Malaysia pointed out in its annual report released in March.

In 2015 alone, the unemployment rate among youths was estimated to have reached 10.7 per cent and Bank Negara noted that youths represented more than half of unemployed workers, although it only made up a third of the labour force.

BNM cited the slowing economy as a major cause for the drastic drop in hiring.

Panelists at today’s forum including Noor Azlan agreed, and said rising graduate unemployment was a serious problem that required immediate attention from all stakeholders, including industries.

But while the industry representative concurred, the representative noted that the lack of quality of today’s graduates is also adding to the unemployment problem.

Among the issues turning employers away from hiring many of the local graduates today are the lack of interpersonal skills; they lack the necessary “character” to adapt to the working environment.

Noor Azlan in his response said the solution to this problem was closer cooperation between industries and public universities.

“What we need is more industries attached to universities. The problem is every section only wants to solve their own problems,” he said.