PUTRAJAYA: Graduates should see their degree as a stepping stone to a career, not a guarantee of a job.
MCA Young Professionals Bureau chairman Datuk Chua Tee Yong said it would take more than a degree to get a job in an increasingly competitive job market.
He advised graduates to be creative, versatile and not expect a high salary and working conditions to their liking.
Commenting on reports quoting the Human Resource Ministry's statistics of a rise in unemployment among graduates, from 65,500 in the first quarter of 2010 to 71,600 in the same period last year, Chua said there could be various reasons for this.
For instance, he said, job seekers should make an effort to find out what went wrong during their job interviews.
"Find out from your potential employers (interviewers) how you performed. This is a valuable feedback to help you to do better the next round, apart from showing your commitment to improve," Chua, also the Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, said in an interview yesterday.
Chua said other factors that could affect graduates' employability would include the type of discipline they took up in university.
Citing examples, he said it might be easier for a psychology graduate to get a job in countries where it was normal for people to seek counselling but such opportunities may be scarce here.
He noted the Human Resource Ministry was taking steps to help unemployed graduates and urged them to visit the ministry's website to find out options available to them.
Chua said it was important that job seekers, graduates or non-graduates, persevere, adding that every failed interview should be seen as an experience that could help them at the next interview.
The job market is not so bleak, he said, adding that a survey by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) showed that 97% of its graduates found employment within six months of graduation.
He said he believed that everyone, from school dropouts to graduates, had their own strength.
"There are many options these days, whether one is academically inclined or otherwise. Vocational training in areas like baking, culinary skills and wedding planning are popular."
For instance, he said the MCA had engaged six universities and a college in Taiwan to offer Malaysians aged 40 and below to take up two-year vocational training programmes and 300 scholarships were available.