Growing gap between employer and grad expectations: INTI study
By Digital News Asia December 22, 2015
- Mismatch of expectations pose a big challenge in tight market conditions
- Significant gap in importance of communication skills, expected salaries
THERE is a growing mismatch of expectations between employers and students who are gearing up for the employment market, according to a study commissioned by INTI International University & Colleges.
This gap will present a greater challenge during tougher economic times, when more stringent recruitment policies are in place, INTI said in a statement.
The INTI Industry Vs Graduates Survey involved 600 respondents across three market centres in Malaysia, and revealed a dichotomy of views in the abilities and marketability of fresh graduates in Malaysia, INTI said.
“INTI commissioned this study to understand the expectations of students upon graduating, and the companies that employ them, as we wanted to have the data points to ensure we are meeting the needs of our key stakeholders,” said its chief executive officer Rohit Sharma.
“We were very surprised by the dichotomy of views as it is clear that the expectations and perceptions of both segments are diametrically opposed.
“Left unchecked, this mismatch in expectations will widen further and result in a strain on the system, with young graduates either unemployed or job-hopping, and employers facing high turnover or unable to secure the right talent for their needs,” he added.
The survey revealed that while 79% of parents and students believe that soft skills have improved amongst present-day graduates, 84% of employers strongly disagree, stating that despite strong academic results, graduates today lack the prerequisite soft skills for workplace success.
Another key finding is the importance placed on soft skills, with students and parents placing equal importance on communications, collaborative skills, critical thinking and creativity, while employers rank communications as the primary and most important skill they seek in the talents they employ and retain.
The adage ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ could not be more relevant in this present day, as academic qualifications alone are not sufficient to secure employment, with employers now seeking well-rounded, enterprising and experienced individuals, INTI said.
The preference for well-rounded graduates with diverse interests stood at 81%, while those with practical experience stood at 65%.
Industry placements and internships were also cited as a deciding factor amongst 57% of the respondents in the employer category.
This appears to be one of the few areas that overlap, with corresponding findings in the parent and student category – 88% acknowledged that soft skills are more important than academic results when seeking employment.
Students also place a premium on institutions of higher learning that emphasise the development of soft skills (87%), a view shared by employers, with 83% stating that there is a clear difference in the quality of graduates from institutions of higher learning that focus on honing and developing soft skills.
Another area of shared expectations is in work experience, with 87% of employers agreeing that students who graduate from institutions that focus on internships tend to perform better, while 90% of the parents and students surveyed concurred that this will result in better employment prospects.
“The ability to understand the issues at hand and address them at the core is essential for academic institutions seeking to develop talent with the relevant skill-set, academic qualifications and the right balance of aptitude and attitude,” said Rohit (pic below).
“Having worked closely with over 400 employer partners, we realise that there is a mismatch in expectations, and we wanted to understand this better to provide the right solutions,” he added.
INTI partners ranging from global multinationals such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft, as well as homegrown giants like Maybank.
Growing concerns about the economy have also prompted students and parents alike to seek employment options far quicker than before, with 81% acknowledging that students need to start earning as soon as possible by joining the workforce immediately after graduation.
However, despite wanting to start earning immediately, the findings revealed a key mismatch in the average starting salary of fresh graduates, with parents and students placing this at RM3,400, while the actual market average ranges between RM2,100 and RM2,500, according to a JobStreet report, INTI said. [RM1 = US$0.23 at current rates]
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