Beyond Securing Jobs The Lasting Value Of Higher Education


From Syed Alwee AlsagoffMore than 300,000 new graduates have flooded the Malaysian labour market this year, many of them after last week’s convocations; nearly 20,000 of them hold postgraduate degrees.
But one can sense that a wave of anxiety is gripping their minds today. The spectre of unemployment looms large, raising doubts about whether hard-earned qualifications will pave the way for jobs on par with their education any time soon.
Graduates face growing skepticism about the traditional belief that education guarantees a successful career. Critics argue that the link between education and employment has weakened, with rapid technological change and demands for specialised skills making traditional qualifications less relevant.
This transition has led to uncertainty among graduates, who may not find their education a safe path to success. Critics also point to a disconnect between theoretical education and practical skills, leaving graduates ill-equipped for their chosen professions.
This mismatch can lead to unemployment and underutilisation of skills. Although higher education can increase earning potential and open doors to specialised positions, they argue it does not guarantee employment.
The emphasis on university credentials is also exaggerated, critics said.
Although qualifications may indicate education and experience, they do not always reflect actual skills or abilities. Varying standards for credential accreditation make it difficult for employers to accurately assess potentials. Employers often value soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, over hard skills or university credentials, they proposed.
Rethinking the job market
In fact, the notion that education directly provides skills and knowledge that are easily transferable to the job market alone is too simplistic.
The skills and knowledge acquired through education are often the basis for further development and adaptation in future contexts. The term “job market” often conjures up images of a fixed and static entity.
In fact, the job market is constantly evolving, driven by technological advances, economic shifts, and changing consumer demands. This dynamism requires individuals to develop adaptability, critical thinking, requires individuals to continuously learn and adapt and use problem-solving skills to navigate the ever changing work landscape.
The traditional concept of the “job market,” often cited by critics, may be rendered obsolete by the evolving nature of work itself. The rise of the gig economy, part-time work and freelance opportunities have blurred the lines between traditional employment and self-employment.
This new landscape demands that individuals embrace adaptability, proactivity and self-direction in their career development. They must be equipped with the ability to continuously learn and acquire new skills to keep pace with ever-changing workforce demands.
As a result, the skills and knowledge acquired through education become the basis for further development and adjustment in the career context of the graduates.
The skills valued in the workplace are constantly evolving, requiring continuous learning and adaptation from the individual.
More than job preparation
University education is more than just job preparation. It empowers individuals to become informed, engaged and responsible citizens with critical thinking, analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
It fosters the creativity, adaptability and communication skills essential to navigating the modern world and adapting in an ever-changing environment.
A university education provides individuals with the expertise they need to succeed in many areas of life. It helps them become knowledgeable and informed citizens with a deeper understanding of the world around them.
This understanding can be invaluable in both professional and personal settings. For example, an understanding of history can help individuals better understand current events, and an understanding of science can help individuals make informed decisions about their and their families’ future health and well-being.
In conclusion, a university education is a transformative experience that goes beyond immediate employment. It equips individuals with the intellectual, personal and adaptive skills to navigate an ever-changing world and pursue fulfilling and meaningful careers.
It’s not just about earning a particular set of skills or qualifications for a particular job, but more about cultivating the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively and adapt to new challenges with a deeper understanding of the world.
Therefore, university education serves as a foundation for lifelong learning and personal growth, it empowers individuals to make meaningful contributions to society and lead fulfilling lives, far beyond the convocation ceremonies in their university halls last week. - FMT
Syed Alwee Alsagoff is a fellow with the National Council of Professors and an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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