Hard and soft knowledge are both important in the working world but employees who lack the ability to manage their lives, take responsibility for their own success, and follow through on commitments need to learn soft skills along with the hard skills required for a job so they understand how all aspects of their lives connect. Soft skills provide a way to get the highest return on investment when considering human capital. They can build great people. Few individuals are fired because they lack technical knowledge.
Most are fired because of a deficit in soft skill knowledge. This happens most in Malaysia for institution of higher education, especially university students. Many universities worldwide are currently focusing on producing graduates who possess knowledge about their disciplines of study and adequate soft skills. Undoubtedly, the acquisition of soft skills is crucial for Malaysian graduates to enhance their employment marketability. Soft skills complement hard skills, which are the technical requirements of a job.
Today, even positions in task-oriented fields such as accounting and information systems require soft skills, in addition to technical skills. Indeed, a study conducted by the Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon Foundation involving Fortune 500 chief executive officers found that 75% of long-term job success depended on people skills, and only 25% on technical knowledge. In short, technical skills often have little value if one has poor soft skills. Employees that are hardworking and have a strong work ethic are likely to be promoted the fastest within an organisation according to the new employer online poll series conducted by the Middle East’s number one job site, Bayt. com, with 30% of employers agreeing that those committed to their work are likely to be most eligible for promotion. Leadership ability was also found to be a very desirable trait in an employee when it came to deciding which staff members to promote, with 19% of employers agreeing natural leaders are the fastest to move up the organisation’s career ladder.
Surprisingly, possessing a high IQ was considered less important among the employers surveyed – just 6% agreed that the most intelligent employees are promoted fastest, and contrary to popular belief, visibly putting in long hours does not guarantee a promotion; just 8% of employers agreed that those who stay after hours will be promoted faster than those who don’t. ” The above facts showed that soft skills are more important than hard skills. Soft skills are observable, quantifiable and justifiable; it helps to prove a person’s capabilities in communicating, leading, managing and team building.
Soft skills at Malaysia’s institution of higher education is in alarming state, we students are bound to this serious problem and take the responsibilities to possess good soft skills because it facilitates the growth, development, culture and even economic of the country. 1. 0Contents Problem Statement Numerous articles have been written in the Malaysian newspapers and education journals within the last two years on a common matter of grave concern – the declining soft skill of graduates today.
There were allegations that our local Malaysian graduates lack the basic skills and knowledge that they were supposedly trained in local universities and private colleges. The allegations were mostly made by academicians, employers and, more continuously so at the highest level, the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources. This attitude and practice engenders beliefs and attitudes that the “soft skills” are secondary, even unimportant. As a result, university students are often equipped with technical knowledge and hard skills, but a lack of the “soft skills”, leaves them under-prepared for the real world of work.
On the part of academicians, two very much preferred criteria on ensuring the presence of quality could be an ever-flowing stream of research grants and high academic entry requirements. These, and the publication of research articles, could well be in their minds to demonstrate the sufficiency of expertise and existence of quality. However, good academic researchers are not necessary good, dedicated teachers. Additionally, admitting students with excellent academic performance should not be construed as the institution having quality, if the highly qualified professors in their respective expertise do not possess adequate teaching skills.
Further compounding the problem at hand is the government’s original far-sighted objective of making Malaysia an educational hub in the future, hosting the tertiary studies for many foreign students from abroad. The past few years have, unfortunately, recorded an increasing rate of unemployable local graduates and, coincidentally, the inflow of foreign students dwindled almost within the same period. The quality of education received some attention, as it was logically the only possible suspected reason underlying the two problems: unemployable graduates and declining influx of foreign students.
The existence of quality in academic programs at various private tertiary institutions is prominently revered throughout the nation via their respective advertisements and periodic write-ups. Ironically, the employers who receive the graduates at the tail end of the education process aired conflicting views. A deeper insight of the entire process of education reveals that there are several parties involved, each having its own objectives and determinants of quality. The existing alarming phenomenon is the production of thousands of graduates annually by almost 1,000 colleges and education institutions in Malaysia.
However, most of these graduates are not equipped with soft skills. This has formed a severe and common problem for them; to be unemployed by the real working world. As a result of this, coupled with the economic contraction of the country, the options for this group of graduates could only chose to pursue further education, on-the-job training or to take on technical based job position. In other word, they have caused a serious problem for quality employers to employ quality employees. Evidence 4th , February, 2007, The Star reported that about 23. 5% of students from Malaysia did not meet the required English standard.
They might have the required basic English level, but they do not possess the required soft skills. They fail to communicate with others in real world of work, unable to convey their messages and show unexpected incapability in managing projects. According to the study, all graduates tested had enough command of the language to cope in most situations but were still not capable of conducting a sophisticated discourse at a professional level. This showed that most Malaysia students at all levels should take the initiative to not only learn the language but also practice it as frequently as possible.
In Malaysia, English language would be the most important and critical language should be learned before a good soft skill can be developed. Even the best English teachers on earth could not help students who do not have little interest and refuse to use the language themselves, in particular, in their daily activities. However, teachers as well as parents should also motivate and guide the students to communicate with proper language and thus develop proper soft skills. One report of The Star at 23rd, September, 2007 revealed that soft skills is essential in today’s work place.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) in its survey on ICT workers in manufacturing companies in 2004, as reported in the Third Industrial Master Plan, found that employees are weak in English, unable to perform despite having good academic grades and are poor at problem solving. Research done by Dr Parmjit Singh of Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) in 2004 showed that the top three complaints were that graduates have poor communication skills, lack initiative and lack creativity, which bring negative impact to the development and growth of the country.
This report showed the attitude of Malaysians that they are cold against soft skills, they should accept the fact that soft skills are essential for success and take the one-track focus off academic performance. 25th , May, 2010, NST reported that most of our diplomatic officials, whether from the foreign ministry or other ministries, are too shy to speak up or make representations, especially at multilateral diplomacy and their command of English is poor. Although they belong to institution of high education, they could not communicate in professional manner.
It is a hard truth that Malaysia people do not possess basic level of soft skills which reduce their position in competitive international domain and influence Malaysia diplomatic strategy. In this case, the government should be the driving force in creating the interest in the use of English as a ‘strong’ second language in Malaysia. The policy and International attitude toward English must be as transparent and as observable as in its implementation. In Malaysia, English language and soft skills have strongest bond to each other.
The government could inculcate the use of English language particularly in the teaching of Science and Mathematics as early as at the primary educational level. This is the least minimum effort that the government should implement in order to improve the soft skills of Malaysian’s institution of high education, not just the problem solving skill of students but also the teaching skills of teachers. In fact, universities worldwide have adopted one or more of these approaches. An integrated approach, involving two or all of the bove-mentioned approaches, makes the most sense. Undergraduates should first be provided with a theoretical framework pertaining to soft skills. Such a framework will guide the undergraduates to effectively practice the soft skills that have been embedded across the curriculum rather than learn them haphazardly through the trial-and-error method. More importantly, a systematic and step-by-step experiential approach is needed to assist individuals to develop positive personal attributes and to take charge of their lives.
One of the latest The Star’s report about soft skill at 7th , March, 2010, revealed that employers were no longer looking for graduates armed only with good grades, but were seeking those with effective soft skills such as the ability to communicate well and work in a team. This was said by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin. The main role played by universities was to impart knowledge and it was up to undergraduates to acquire the soft skills, he said at the Career Day 2010.
It was jointly organised by the Institution of Surveyors Malaysia, Johor Education Department and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for Form Four and Five students. Khaled also called on undergraduates to enrich their campus life with studies and extra-curricular activities, such as participating in sports events, joining societies and doing volunteer work. He added companies or employers did not necessarily hire graduates who passed with flying colours, adding those with average academic qualification but better soft skills had a better chance of being hired.
This report showed the responsibilities and roles of parents, public and students themselves in order to possess good soft skills. Cooperation from the public to increase the practice of soft skills such as communication and interaction in business and social ordinary life engagements are vital. Clearly, soft skills are also the language of progress in many aspects of life. Soft skill is a must to allow effective communication occurs, to convey powerful messages and to solve critical problem in our daily life.
It is an undeniable fact that soft skills increase the chance of university students being employed in nowadays real world of work. This proven the importance of soft skills than hard skills, where soft skills complement hard skills. Further news about the declining of soft skills in Malaysia is found at one of the report of BERNAMA (Berita Agency Malaysia) at 14th , July, 2007, where there are more than 5,500 university graduates are unemployed per year ecause they do not possess the soft skills required by employers in the country. Apart from their weak command of the English language, the graduates were found to be narrow-minded, lacking leadership, espirit de corps and unable to communicate well. Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said that students should enhance your employability by being global- minded, able to work in a team, having excellent communication skill, active and able to make friends easily.
They must have a sense of belonging to the university and always try to uplift its good name. The report revealed that the alarming state of declining soft skills at Malaysia’s institution of higher education was arisen since 2007. It is still a hot topic in education, business and economic domain in Malaysia, and also an unsolved problem even until today. One possibly cause is the untested intelligence of the graduates, where the students are lack of knowledge and expertise in their own area of study.
Another possible contributing factor could be the falling standards of delivery, where most of academic lecturers are lack of soft skills themselves. When they are unable to conduct proper manner of soft skills to students, students are expected to fail to do so. Another cause may be the fast-track degrees offered by private institutions in the market, shortening of programmes and semesters, elimination of electives and closet-sized libraries. Students should also be active in co-curriculum activities in order to improve their soft skills.