KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of English as a must-pass subject for students in public universities is seen as a positive step towards ensuring better-qualified graduates.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said having a good command of spoken and written English increased employability.
He said a recent survey by the World Bank and TalentCorp Malaysia found that 81 per cent of respondents said local students lacked communication, criticalthinking and analytical skills.
â€œEmployers are increasingly viewing the ability to communicate as a key factor in hiring entry-level graduates.
So, itâ€™s not just that you have to pass the subject, but you have to be able to understand it enough to speak it.
â€œAt universities, students need to be tested not just in writing, but also oral communication of English.
This will reduce the unemployment rate.
â€œIn 2012, the Education Ministry and Higher Learning Division revealed that of 109,025 graduates, 55.4 per cent were employed within six months, while 24.7 per cent were unemployed and 20.8 per cent continued their studies.
â€œSo, in essence, for every five students, three get employed, one is unemployed and one continues his/her studies.
â€œTherefore, we need to manage employability at a better rate,â€ he said, adding that the government should ensure the implementation was carried out effectively.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced on Tuesday that English would be a must-pass subject in public universities.
However, he said details on the matter would be announced later, adding that basic knowledge was not enough if graduates did not have the ability to communicate and write effectively in English.
Universiti Malaysia Perlis Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kamarudin Hussin said the focus on English was already apparent at the university level, but the new move would help strengthen studentsâ€™ command of the language.
â€œScience and technology subjects are already taught in English. So now, we have to improve their skills in communicating effectively. If we want these students to work in multinational companies, they need to be confident in conversing in English, especially during interview sessions.
â€œWe want to produce exceptionally talented graduates who are skilled technically, have a good command of English and are critical thinkers.â€
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) student Fariza Hanum Burhanuddin, 21, said the move was a good one, as students had to learn subjects in English at universities.
â€œOur lectures, notes and books are mostly in English, so this makes perfect sense. If we are looking for a job, the employers want someone who can speak proper English.
â€œEven for those who want to get a degree, they have to take the Malaysian University English Test (Muet), so the requirement of English as a must-pass subject is valid.â€
Another UiTM student, Nor Hidayah Mohammad Nor, 21, said English was already one of the main mediums used during university lectures, therefore, comprehending the language should be easy.MYNEWSHUB/NST