Job Outlook

Malaysian University Graduates weak in English, unable to handle stress or work hard

Graduates in Malaysia with Poor English Earn Lower Salaries and Fewer Promotions

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Employers are becoming increasingly dismayed by Malaysian “generation Y” job seekers who generally have a poor command of

After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Because of Eduspiral, I am able to pursue my studies at Asia Pacific University. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and even brought me to visit the university when I went to KL alone. Jeremy Lee, APU scholarship student

After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Because of Eduspiral, I am able to pursue my studies at Asia Pacific University. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and even brought me to visit the university when I went to KL alone. Jeremy Lee, APU scholarship student

the English language and lack communication skills, are too spoiled to handle stress, and in a hurry to climb the corporate ladder yet indifferent to the need for experience.

These Gen Y recruits, when compared with previous generations, are also less impressed with job benefits such as medical insurance and bonuses, preferring instead immediate cash rewards for performance, surveys among employers and trade groups have revealed.

This damning indictment of today’s 20-something job-seekers’ attitudes is in large part due to an education policy in previous years that de-emphasised the importance of the English language, said a school education group.

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In fact, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) believes that these policies have created a “lost generation” of young adults whose command of the English language is weaker than previous generations and who will miss the changes in schools that will benefit future generations.

Malaysian Employers Federation secretary Datuk Shamsudin Bardan said that a survey a few years ago among its members found that 60% of them identified low English proficiency as the main problem with young recruits.

While a similar survey in September last year by online recruitment agency JobStreet.com found that 55% of senior managers and companies who took part said that poor command of the English language was the main reason for unemployment among undergraduates.

School graduates might have SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) English grades of A and B but could not even hold a conversation in

EduSpiral helped Alvin Chai, Jen Hui, Paul Kit, and Wen Hao from Poi Lam High School Ipoh providing course counseling and campus tour. They are now studying in various programmes at UCSI University

EduSpiral helped Alvin Chai, Jen Hui, Paul Kit, and Wen Hao from Poi Lam High School Ipoh providing course counseling and campus tour. They are now studying in various programmes at UCSI University

English, Shamsudin said.

“Which is why we were excited when the government decided to teach mathematics and science in English (PPSMI), as we felt this could boost their command of English.

“Unfortunately it was cancelled after seven years when we should have allowed it to continue for 14 to 15 years to see the results.

“The inability to converse and understand English (among young school leavers) is a constant complaint among our members,” said Shamsudin. The MEF has 4,800 direct members and 21 affiliated trade associations.

It is the largest grouping of employers who collectively employ two-thirds of the 2.2 million people in the formal private sector.

Christopher Raj of the Association of Hotel Employers said that out of 10 job applicants in the hospitality sector, eight or nine could not speak English.

“The problem is bad not only among school leavers but also graduates from our local universities. You ask them in English and they answer in Bahasa Malaysia.

“Private college graduates tend to be better,” said Raj, who is also a council member of MEF.

As immigration laws do not allow hotels to hire English-proficient personnel to man front-line positions where English is critical, major hotels have had to invest in English-language courses for their new employees.

The courses are designed to build confidence in trainees for restaurant and counter staff to converse in the language, Raj said.

EduSpiral analysed my personality and results, subsequently advised me on choosing the right course as well as the best university that fit me. John Lai Wai Hong, Diploma in Mass Comm at KDU University College

EduSpiral analysed my personality and results, subsequently advised me on choosing the right course as well as the best university that fit me.
John Lai Wai Hong, Diploma in Mass Comm at KDU University College

PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the secondary aim of PPSMI was to provide more opportunities to students to practise English – a crucial step in increasing proficiency.

Its first aim was to help science-oriented students make the transition to university and colleges where almost all science texts are in English.

“Proficiency in any language is about practising. PPSMI created more opportunities for students to practise,” said Noor Azimah. PAGE has campaigned for the government to allow schools to continue the policy.

The government discontinued PPSMI in 2011, seven years after it was implemented in primary and secondary schools. The reason given was that it resulted in only a marginal increase in English proficiency among students.

However, Noor Azimah said a study showed that in mathematics and science examinations, where students were given a choice of whether to answer in English or Bahasa Malaysia, more than 90% of Tamil primary school students answered in English.

In national schools, the same studies showed that 60% of students chose to answer in English than in Bahasa Malaysia.

As if weak English was not enough, employers such as Raj complained that young job seekers in their 20s don’t seem able to handle stress well or work themselves up from the bottom.

“Graduates these days come from colleges and immediately want to become managers, without even any experience. You can’t scold them and they can’t handle stress,” said Raj, who has spent 33 years in the hotel business.

MEF’s Shamsuddin says that recruits in their 20s, the so-called generation Y, are “restless” compared with their elders.

“They have their eyes on the now instead of the future. They are less attracted to benefits such as annual bonuses, medical benefits, retirement.

“In fact, they want annual bonuses portioned out on a monthly basis,” he said.

My sister found EduSpiral online. I wanted a college that wasn't expensive with great facilities and a UK degree. EduSpiral just helped us to find the right college. Yen Yong, Business at KBU International College

My sister found EduSpiral online. I wanted a college that wasn’t expensive with great facilities and a UK degree. EduSpiral just helped us to find the right college.
Yen Yong, Business at KBU International College

“I think it is because of the business environment these days. Companies have to be fast-moving to compete so it shapes employee attitudes.”

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also urged students to master the English language as it would benefit them in the long run, adding that it was the universal language in research and would help them gain employment.

For example, he said recently, 333 graduates of higher-learning institutions were called for an information technology job interview.

“However, only seven were recruited as the rest did not have a strong command of English. Some even requested that the questions during the interview, which was conducted in English, to be translated to Bahasa Malaysia.”

To improve communication skills in English, students should choose a university where most of the students communicate in English. If 90% of the students on campus communicate in Mandarin, then it will be difficult for you to improve because you would not be comfortable to speak in English there.

Therefore, although the university that you choose is good and fees are low, if you cannot improve your English there, it will affect your future career forever. Do you want to have an easy 4 years of study in an environment you are comfortable with and have low salary for 60 years of your work life or put yourself in an environment where it will force you to communicate in English and give you opportunities to have high salary for 60 years of your career.

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I am so glad that my mother found EduSpiral online. I used to be quiet and not able to communicate well in English. Now, I am more confident and speak a lot in English because of the great university environment. Zhi Kang, Business at Asia Pacific University

I am so glad that my mother found EduSpiral online. I used to be quiet and not able to communicate well in English. Now, I am more confident and speak a lot in English because of the great university environment.
Zhi Kang, Business at Asia Pacific University

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EduSpiral Consultant Services represents the best colleges and universities in Malaysia offering a wide range of choices for students to choose from. These colleges and universities offer value for money in the quality of education and excellent facilities that you get.

These universities and colleges are chosen by EduSpiral because they represent the best in their fields in Malaysia and affordable. EduSpiral provides in-depth information and counseling on their courses so that students are able to make the right choice.

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