Industry leaders today highlighted the need to develop Malaysian students with a more well-rounded and holistic education in a bid to better prepare them for the workplace.

Speaking at an exclusive Education New Zealand (ENZ) roundtable discussion ahead of the annual ENZ fair later this week, the leaders outlined how employers of today are looking beyond academic achievements when hiring new employees. They also noted the importance of equipping students with skills such as project management and problem-solving so as to remain relevant in today’s world of work.

Director of Randstad Malaysia, Ryan Carroll, commented that employers in Malaysia now want talented individuals who possess various skills and competencies.

“One of the key things that employers today are looking for is how someone can help the organisation produce productivity gains. They want candidates who have good skills in project management, are competent in the digital and social media space, and are confident communicators. All these can be acquired through internships, part-time work or even working on charity projects.

“While it is still important that potential employees have the relevant skills and workplace experiences, they must also be able to articulate effectively about how they can contribute to the company. For example, if they have worked on a particular case study or project in university, they need to be confident talking about their experiences and what they learnt during that process,” Mr Carroll said.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr John Subritzky, spoke about the New Zealand education system and how institutions there are committed to developing holistic educational experiences that are relevant to the workplace.

“Helping students do well academically while at the same time, developing their inventive thinking skills and obtaining real workplace experiences, are crucial in allowing them to stand out when applying for jobs.

“New Zealand recognises the importance of an all-rounded education to employability, which is why our education system focuses on helping students transition from the academic life into the working world,” Dr Subritzky said. 

Richard Tan, an alumni of Victoria University of Wellington and managing director and co-founder of lelong.com.my, shared his experiences studying in New Zealand.

“What I liked about the New Zealand education system is that it encourages students to pursue and develop their interests. It doesn’t force a student into a particular stream but focuses on teaching him or her how to acquire information and meaningfully apply that knowledge across various situations. This means that even as a pure Science student, I was given the flexibility to explore other areas of interest to me such as accountancy.

“I was also able to work part-time at various places and this helped me pick up softer skills such as communicating effectively with peers and dealing with different types of personalities, which then eventually helped me in my career,” Mr Tan shared.

Highlighting that there has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of first-time Malaysian student visas approved year-to-date in June 2016, Dr Subritzky also shared that students consider New Zealand as an education destination because they believe the education system encourages independent thinking and problem-solving – practical skills which are becoming increasingly crucial to employers.

“Institutions in New Zealand are committed towards producing employable graduates who can contribute to the economic growth and social well-being of their respective countries. All the universities, for example, offer internship opportunities and programmes of support to help students increase their employability skills and realise their career opportunities,” Dr Subritzky said.

Those interested to learn more about holistic education opportunities in New Zealand are invited to visit the ENZ Fair at One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya this weekend on 6 and 7 August. More information can be found on http://www.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz/my/nzfair/.