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OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

INTRODUCTION In this era of globalisation, the world economy has witnessed new trends in international trade, investments and technology flows as a results of economic adjustment in the major industrial countries. These changes on the patterns of investments are a global influence. Hence, Malaysia has been influenced by globalisation as we are viewed as developing country. In order for Malaysian to compete in the international market, it should be able to nurture domestic industries at the beginning stage. To become more competitive globally, Malaysia must ensure that it has an increasing supply of highly skilled labours. These highly skilled labours are the graduates that Malaysia will produce or have already produced. However, over the recent two years, numerous articles in local newspapers and educational journals have raised their concern about the declining quality of graduates today (K.Y.Woo, 2006). This issue has cause many graduate to be unemployed and also has worried the future graduates of Malaysian. In the following sections, a detail discussion on the different skills that employers are looking for in future graduates will be discussed. The first is the quality of the future graduates command of English (The Star, 2011). The second is the desire to want to improve oneself and not be ignorant. Next, the lack of communication skills among graduates makes them less appealing to employers (Khoo, 2001). The lack of working experience and exposure is also the cause of employers to be sceptical to employ graduates. Another skill that is lacking is the behaviour and mannerisms of graduates nowadays.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

The quality of command in English. As the new generation face globalisation, their future deals with international standards when it comes to job market. Hence, the English language is perhaps one of the most important criteria needed to venture into the global market (The Star, 2011). As the business community nowadays are venturing into global market, employers not only prefer but demand that their employees can communicated with their global level clients. For this reason in order to communicate with foreign companies and clients from all over the world, English becomes the main language. Various surveys on graduates employability have found that English is their main weakness. Many cannot speak or write proper English when interviewed (Higher Education Ministry Survey 2008). Based on this, we can conclude that to enter the international or even the local market, future graduates need to have a good foundation in their verbal and written skills in English. By having a good foundation in the English language, graduates will be able to communicate with clients and be involved in various aspects of business. Graduates who have good foundation in the English Language will be able to negotiate deals or get contracts sign. Those who are weak in their verbal and written English might not be able to do so and will cause down fall to their employers. Kelly Services, a leading head-hunter in Malaysia, corresponded that six in 10 graduates who attended interviews carried out by their company could not communicate effectively in English (The Star, 2011). This clearly shows that English is the medium of communication when it comes to getting a job. It is the first aspect that is looked into when employers want to appoint an employee. Those who are not able to perform well during their first interview tend to secure jobs in small medium business. Based on these views, it shows that language is definitely an issue when employers look for employees.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

Lack of self development. Employers complain that many graduates when attend interviews, meeting or conferences, they cannot put across their ideas. They tend to look less smart when actually, knowledge wise, they are well equipped. This relates to the English language. When graduates do not have a basic foundation in the language, they tend to have low confident level. They tend to not involve in discussion during meeting because they are afraid to talk. These graduates do not do anything to improve themselves. It is essential that graduates to keep up with the latest development in the job market. This will help them from avoiding being unemployed. One way to do so is through the Internet. As English is the language of Internet, graduates need to be able to communicate in the language. Even though there is translation but it will take some time and time is essential in the business world. Employers, when appoint someone, would expect the new employee to be able to adapt to new environment. They do not want employees that shy away cause their lack of communication. Employers cannot afford to hire someone who is not able to communicate well. Its costs them.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

Lack of communication skills. Employers have also indicated that graduates tend to lack in their communication skills. The basic communication skills deal with written, verbal and ones verbal skill. As English is the global language, these communication skills relate to the usage of English as the medium of communication. Based on a survey done by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) in 2010, 68% of the companies surveyed named communication skills as the top quality required for nearly every job or relationship pursue by graduates. As mention in the previous section, English is the valuable asset that graduates need to focus on in order to enhance their communication skills. Graduates should have the ability to speak clearly and concisely in the English language. This will help them to convey information or articulate an opinion when working. Employers view this as an essential aspect when dealing with local or international clients. It is noted that employees spend more than half of their daily time on communicating through writing, reading, listening and even speaking. Hence, any glitch in communicating through any medium of communication will cause issues. Effective communication is an essential component for organisation success. Some of the issues brought up by employers regarding graduates communication skills are minor details, yet they affect business. It is voiced out that some graduates write well, but they are not able to express themselves orally. There are some who speak fluently, but cannot write without grammatical errors. Adding to that, some are comfortable speaking among themselves in a small group, but are not comfortable facing the audience. This shows that it does not matter if graduates are top of their class or have degrees unless they can communicate well using the English language, they do not attract employers to appoint them.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

The lack of working experience and exposure. The feedback from employers also indicated that fresh graduates lack working experience and exposure. This may seem to be early to evaluate fresh graduates. However, this lack has it importance. As well as qualifications and knowledge, employers want proof that a potential candidate has practical experience and skills to show theres a good chance they can hack it in the workplace. This requires graduates to be exposed to the working style in order to build useful skills and gain some confidence before entering the real job market. When a graduate has working experience even a small percent, it helps to make a better impression. By noting now previous working experiences, graduates can boost their resumes as they have gained hands-on experience. It also helps to impress a potential future employer. Employers would feel that they would not have to deal with teaching employees every single detail regarding a job. Employers can be reluctant to employ a young person with no work experience as they see them as a risk rather than as a productive employee, This work experience can be as simple as apprenticeships and internships done during the graduates are in universities. This work experience is valuable as it is a way to make graduates more employable. It also helps to train graduates to access their talent before being work-ready for their future employers. One of the reasons for this skill to look for by employers is because the competition level that in now growing fiercely. As a result, many companies are turning away graduates however bright they are if they havent had any previous work experience.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

Issues of behaviour and mannerisms. Some employers feel that the current graduates lack in behaviour and mannerism. They indicated that some graduates are able to impress them with their top marks and well balance resumes. However, when it comes to behaviour and mannerism, employers tend to decline such well graduates. Hence, having to successfully manage a secure job interview, it is essential that graduates make a good lasting impression with the people who they meet at any job interview. Showing themselves as qualified for the job is one important element, but they need to win the person over and ensure he or she is also impressed by their personality. Interviewers want people they feel they can work with. Someone who is illmannered or does not follow the correct etiquette will quickly form negative impressions in the interviewers' minds. It also makes the employers wonder if the person they are about to appoint is able to create a positive working environment. A negative environment will affect the productivity of a company.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

Suggestion In order to help future graduates to be well equipped with the skills indicated, there a few suggestions can be followed by future graduates, governments bodies and educational institutions. Future graduates will need to build a basic foundation in their English language. They would have to accept the importance of the English language and learn to tackle it before they face the job world. Future graduates would also need to build on their work experiences in order to capture future employers interest. By being involved in part time jobs or organization, graduates are building on their working style. Graduates will also need to be prone to adapting to different working style. Government bodies can also help to equipped future graduates to develop their skills. Based on research done, various government bodies can enhance training programs that can help future graduates to develop their skills. Better still, such training programs should be a must. This will help graduates to be trained before entering the job market. Whereas, educational institution can do more that educating future graduates. Creating a dynamic setting on campus can encourage critical thinking in graduates. Graduates should be encouraged to look into current issues regarding their job market. Moreover, educational institution can help to expand graduates leadership and make them more appealing to their future employers. Carrying out programs planned by graduates will help to enhance their work experiences. Co curricular activities on and off campus should be a must among graduates.

OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS

Conclusion As a conclusion, it is essential that future graduates to be equipped with the skills mention before being able to survive in an increasingly complex working environment. Graduates ought to think for their future before it is too late for them and it will affect their employment. Graduates should be able to think and try to achieve more than their degrees. Hence, graduates are responsible to prepare for the competition in the global market.