Friday, January 21

Digital literacy the most sought after competency by employers


KUCHING: At 3.5 percent in July, unemployment in Malaysia is at its highest since 2013 and continues to rise. This issue coupled with weak wages and job-growth has given cause for concern among Malaysians who placed the mounting cost of living as the No.1 priority for Budget 2017.

These rising concerns coupled with the fact that almost 200,000 fresh graduates are unemployed, INTI commissioned a landmark survey between 316 employers and new graduates in Malaysia to better understand the demands of the increasingly competitive job market.

Survey findings revealed several gaps in expectations between employers and new graduates in terms of the competency deemed essential to excel at a job. The most pressing dichotomy in expectation concerned digital literacy, where 30 per cent of employers regarded it as the most essential competency needed for job performance while most graduates rated it as the least important competency at only four per cent.

Speaking on the survey findings, Rohit Sharma, chief executive officer of INTI International Universities and Colleges said, “The nature of knowledge is changing and in this digital age, our definition of basic digital literacy needs expanding.

This stark mismatch is worrying because digital literacy, which allows you to live, learn and work in a digital society, is one that needs to be taken seriously.

If unaddressed, the consequent misguided belief that graduates have of themselves – that they are well prepared for employment despite not being sufficiently digitally literate – will only add onto the already dire unemployment issue in our nation.”

To further deliberate on the findings as well as discuss remedies that could improve the employment scene in Malaysia, a panel discussion was held alongside Sharma and industry partners including Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President, Enterprise Development Consulting, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); Simon Si, Head Regional Communications, SEEK Asia; and Jake Choy Yew Wing, an INTI alumnus who is currently a Business Development Consultant (ASEAN) in Oracle.

Another notable finding from the survey is that most graduates (29.5 per cent) regarded communication skills as the most important differentiator while only 6.3 per cent of employers saw it as a differentiating factor in evaluating an employee’s performance.

Employers are beginning to raise the benchmark with most seeing communication skills as a given attribute rather than a discerning trait.

However,  Choy emphasised that many graduates regard communication skills as important because communicating with people is the basis of our daily work.

“Being good communicators also allows us to build and maintain relationships,” he said during the session. “That said, the need for good communication skills is contextual. For example, communication skills would play a huge role in first impressions during your 45-minutes interview.”

Sharma added, “The gap in expectations between employers and new graduates as revealed by the survey and verified through feedback from the employers has lent us insight into the current needs of the job market as well as a greater understanding of our students’ perspective on career building. As a higher learning institution, our duty is to bridge that gap by empowering our students to meet the demands of the labour market.”

In line with INTI’s unyielding focus in producing outstanding graduate outcomes, INTI and BDO Governance Advisory also launched INTI’s new 2015 employability figures. It is now validated by BDO that 98 per cent of INTI graduates were employed within 6 months upon their graduation while 82 per cent of INTI graduates are paid higher than market average. Additionally, 25 per cent of INTI graduates are offered jobs before they graduate.

Sharma concluded, “This move serves as a testament to how INTI is constantly raising the benchmark for graduate employability. We are also proud to be setting a new standard for transparency and accountability.”