Published: Wednesday September 19, 2012 MYT 8:11:00 PM
Bosses want grads who can communicate well in English
By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN
PETALING JAYA: Employers want graduates who can speak, read and write well in English, not just those who pass the subject in exams.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said Wednesday of the 28% of students who had received a credit in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) English 2010, only 30%-40% would be employable, as revealed in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
“A credit in SPM English doesn't mean you can communicate well. Even if you increase the number of students who pass with a credit to 90%, it still won't fill up the gaps in the workforce if only 30%-40% of those graduates can communicate well,” he said at The Star's public forum at Menara Star.
He added that the situation was further aggravated by many employers' reluctance to offer English and communication training to employees and prospective employees.
Shamsuddin said most companies would rather use the 1% tax levy for staff training from the Human Resource Development Fund for other endavours.
He also highlighted the discrepancy between the employer's views on the importance of English in hiring versus those of fresh graduates .
“In a survey by JobStreet, 56% of employers viewed poor command of English as a reason for not hiring, while only 23% of fresh graduates shared that view.
“It is a big gap in perception. Only half the number of fresh graduates believe English is important in landing a job,” he said.
British Council English Language Services director Sam Ayton said the inadequacy of English education could potentially create serious gaps in the global job market for both advanced and developing nations.
“But global trends reveal that education systems worldwide are now emphasising English and, as a consequence, children are getting proficient at an earlier age, eventually it will English proficiency will be commonplace globally,” she said.
Another speaker at the forum, TalentCorp Malaysia CEO Johan Mahmood Merican said it was important to change the Malaysian attitude towards English.
“We have to change the youth's outlook on English. The language must be seen as a means of advancement in life, to land a better job or to access a wider range of knowledge,” he said.
He added that English needed to be promoted not just in terms of learning but also for communication.
“Are we really training our children to communicate?” he asked.
“We need our teachers to really engage our children and provide them the soft skills they will need in the working world,” he said.