LETTER | Realities and challenges for fresh grads during pandemic

Amirah Samad


LETTER | When the world was hit with the global pandemic in 2020, countless citizens across the globe lost their jobs due to the implementation of lockdowns by their governments to fight the invisible enemy - Covid-19.

Universities, colleges and schools were shut down, students were not allowed to attend schools to help stop the spread of the virus. During the lockdown period, a new culture of virtual meetings and online classes became the new normal.

That was then, the situation has improved slightly and now the businesses, offices and schools are open but with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) imposed by the government.

How about the struggle of the fresh graduates who received their scrolls in 2020 in seeking jobs? Even though there are some jobs on offer currently, most organisations or companies are only hiring those who have the experience, with a caveat “fresh graduates are welcomed to apply”.

Employers require candidates to provide a curriculum vitae (CV) for job applications.

Since Malaysia had gone through several types of movement control orders last year, the graduating students of 2020 were unable to get involved with activities to get recognition and experience for their CV.

In addition, there were fewer job offers because of the battered economy. Even for a top student who graduated with honours, without work experience, the pickings are scarce.

Most companies and organisations searching for potential employees impose a prerequisite of prior work experience. It’s usually one to five years depending on the position offered.

With the increase of unemployment from the pre-Covid workforce, fresh graduates face the inevitable handicap of no work experience in a sea of experienced unemployed candidates.

Traditionally, fresh graduates would be attractive to employers due to the lower expectation in remuneration. However, this pandemic has forced many retrenched workers to settle for lower pay just to put food on the table and the employers have taken advantage of this.

This leaves the fresh graduates who were often told while growing up, that a degree would secure them their dream jobs, utterly left in the dark. Most will get into part-time jobs or even full employment in fields totally unrelated to what they had studied hard for.

The graduates are also left with massive study loans to service while scrambling to make ends meet.

Were the promises of a better life with proper education a mere lip service at the expense of hopeful students and parents? What is the true price of the little scroll that we are so proud of?

The situation we face now may be the result of the false promises embedded in our minds just to turn higher education into a money churning industry.

Luckily, there are organisations out there that acknowledge this problem and offer intensive on-the-job training with pay for fresh graduates to give them a head start and pick them up from where the universities left them stranded.

This gives the graduates the required work experience to move on to their preferred vocation.

The pandemic that has hit the world by storm has taught us a lot in the last 12 months. We hope that the powers that be will take heed of the difficulties fresh graduates face and provide a comprehensive solution to give them a chance to prove themselves in the real world.

Unless the politicians get their act together and concerned about others instead of themselves, we will continue to suffer.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.