Friday, April 18, 2008

70% Public University Graduates Jobless (!?)

Whoa! I think even the most cynical amongst us out there would have been shaken by such a staggering number of unemployed graduates. I mean how can more than half of our graduates be unemployed?But that' the headline report from the Sun yesterday.

Some 70% of public universities and institutes of higher learning graduates in the country are unemployed. This is in contrast with 26% for private institutions of higher learning and 34% for foreign graduates.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar revealed the figures yesterday in reply to a question from Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur).

While I'm not surprised that the number of unemployed is large, I believe that the statistics provided above either by Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar, or reported by the Sun is misleading. I suspect that some incompetent statistician somewhere took the total number of unemployed gradautes in the country (who could have graduated in different years) and divided the number by the number of tertiary education students in a year to obtain the silly percentage.

If however, the "70%" statistic is indeed true (which I seriously doubt), then I think we might as well shut down half of our public universities.What was more interesting however, is the additional breakdown of unemployed graduate numbers by universities provided by the Ministry. Note that the following breakdown refers only to the 20,217 who have registered themselves with the Ministry of Human Resources, and does not include those who haven't bothered with the Ministry.

It is most interesting to note that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) contributes by far the most number of unemployed graduates amongst all the universities in Malaysia. The number of unemployed produced (3,278) is more than double the next highest university, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) (1,532). To put it into context, it is hence extremely laughable that UiTM as recently as a months ago, declared itself to be a "world class university" . In its advertisement of self-aggrandisement, UiTM dared to ask:

... why are UiTM graduates highly sought after?They are trained to fill the needs of industry both in the private and public sector, they have strength of character, and they have acquired mastery of the skills needed in today's competitive environment.UiTM's graduates are accepted at the world level because of their ability ot communicate in English and their good communication skills.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary here, UiTM declared its graduates to be highly marketable and are in demand globally. Assuming an intake of 30,000 students per annum and the likelihood that the above number represents UiTM's contribution to the unemployed pool per annum, that's more than a 10% ratio of unemployability, a terrible figure even by Malaysian standards!
The next interesting nugget of information produced is the subjects which seem to be littered with unemployed graduates as compiled in the table below:

The answer as to why the Computer Science faculty seems to be contributing the highest number of unemployed graduates to the market place despite a clear shortage of skilled workers in the industry is fairly obvious.
A survey conducted earlier has indicated that as many as 30% of the umemployed local graduates are computer science and information technology degree holders. These skills are in obvious demand in the country - it is not a mismatch. The clearcut issue in this case is that many of the local institutions of higher learning, both public and private have failed to offer a sufficiently rigourous education to produce the necessary quality in the workforce which the industry requires.

I'm not alone with this opinion. A friend and CEO of another sofware company listed on MESDAQ.

Most importantly, as highlighted by Chris Chan, chief executive offer of The Media Shoppe in the same article:

... some local ICT graduates lacked fundamental technical skills and only had knowledge of basic software such as Microsoft Office (!) *psst-my little bro also can laa..

The problem is largely either the poor ICT curriculum of many of our local universities/colleges that doesn't seem teach anything to our ICT students or these students shouldn't have been taking ICT courses in the first place.

Anyway, I'm glad that the Government has in recent times been a tad more liberal with releasing statistics. We hope however, that the statistics which are released can make a bit more sense and the replies made in Parliament to be a tad more "sensible". I mean "70% of local public university graduates unemployed" - that's almost a national emergency! haha...
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