Thursday, July 3, 2008

Soft skills important for our graduates

‘Finishing schools’ for undergrads
At the Dewan Rakyat

ALL public universities have been asked to set up “finishing schools” to conduct courses in soft skills for their graduates to enhance their employability.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Khaled Nordin said the universities usually required their students to join an internship course at various companies a year before they graduated.

“The students will work for the companies for a few months and then, it’s up to the firms on whether to keep them on their payroll or not. This is one way of increasing our graduates’ employability.

“However, not all graduates will have a chance to join an internship. So, the ministry has encouraged all public universities to introduce or have ready finishing schools for this purpose.

“The finishing school will provide courses such as the mastery of the English language, entrepreneurship and other personal skills to enhance their employability,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Loke Siew Fook (DAP – Rasah).

Later at the Parliament lobby, Khaled said that the “finishing schools” referred to soft skills courses, and not a separate entity within the public universities.

“However, attendance is not compulsory. Students who feel they are lacking in this area and want to enhance their employability will be given the option to attend these courses.

“It was a ministry directive for all public universities to conduct such courses,” he said, adding that almost all the universities were now holding these courses.

It is understood that although the soft skills courses had been offered by the universities before, they were held on an ad hoc basis.

It is believed that the directive was given to public universities when Datuk Mustapa Mohamed was the Higher Education Minister.

Earlier, in the Dewan, Khaled said the ministry encouraged a close partnership between public universities and industries through internship programmes.

“The ministry has worked together with private companies and government-linked corporations as well as agencies to provide such internship programmes,” he told Ismail Mohamed Said (BN – Kuala Krau).

Khaled said the ministry had also set up an academic industry advisory board for this purpose.

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