Fewer jobs for graduates poor in English: A perennial problem…

English barrier for Bumiputera graduates in job hunt, says MEF

Adam Abu Bakar -September 20, 2020 11:40 AM

PETALING JAYA: Bumiputeras lagging in labour market mobility and educational achievements is not a new problem, says the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

It said the poor command of English among many Bumiputera graduates was the main reason why they found it hard to get jobs in the private sector, which accounts for more than 90% of jobs in the country.

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan believes the perception that employers often discriminated against Bumiputera graduates was wrong because reasonable fluency in English was necessary for those working in the private sector.

He said not having a good command of the language, whether written or spoken, would lead to difficulties in communication internally as well as with outside parties.

“In the private sector, most things are done in English and we understand why. It is because there is an overseas market, hence English is used in emails and other modes of communication, too,” he told FMT.

Shamsuddin said many graduates feared being criticised for their poor command of the English language.

“There’s no need to be afraid or shy because when they improve, they will benefit from it, too. Companies can then teach them other skills,” he said.

Shamsuddin was commenting on a new study on affirmative action policies by economist Lee Hwok-Aun, who found that Bumiputeras were still lagging behind in labour market mobility and educational achievements.



Bumiputeras lagging in market mobility despite affirmative action, says economist

FMT Reporters -September 17, 2020 7:03 PM

PETALING JAYA: A new study on affirmative action policies has suggested that beyond acquiring qualifications, Bumiputeras are still lagging behind in labour market mobility and educational achievements.

Malaysian economist Lee Hwok-Aun, who works at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, in his latest analysis comparing South Africa’s and Malaysia’s affirmative action policies, said “the rapid gains” in tertiary education and steady rise into high-level positions achieved by Bumiputeras as a result of preferential treatment had slowed in the past decades.

He said public institutions had played key roles in both areas, with Bumiputeras predominantly studying in public universities and colleges and then moving up corporate ladders in the public sector and government-linked companies (GLCs).

“However, beyond acquiring qualifications, in which Bumiputeras, especially Malays, have steadily advanced, the community persistently lags in terms of educational achievement and labour market mobility,” he observed.

He said the continuation of programmes offering alternative or easier entry routes into universities did not effectively prepare students for higher learning.

Such programmes, he said, had failed to close achievement gaps and might even be counter-productive.

Lee also said Malaysia had made a lot less progress in creating dynamic, competitive private enterprises as a result of affirmative action.

“GLCs remain flagbearers of affirmative action in business. Bumiputera SMEs continue to be concentrated at micro and small scales and are largely dependent on public procurement and state support,” he said.

Lee said Malaysia’s discourse on affirmative action often overlapped poverty alleviation together with affirmative action policies, adding that it must respond to evidence that the system had not fully reached its end-goal of capability development.

He said Malaysia must also consider the long-term impact of continued preferential policies on a multiracial society.

Lee, however, observed a shift in the education sector, such as an increase in the prioritisation of poor students.

He said this shift would make way for better distribution of opportunity and might move towards more non-race-based targeting in tertiary education programmes.

However, he said this posed operational challenges in Malaysia’s highly centralised education system.



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