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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Easy to blame picky grads, what about the bosses?

If there are unrealistic expectations and attitude problems among graduates, there are also unreasonable expectations and attitude problems among employers too.
By TK Chua
First I read “It is your attitude, not lack of experience, job seekers told”. Then I read another piece “Unemployed graduates are out of sync”.
Both articles above referred to graduates having “attitude problems” and with unrealistic “expectations”, which in turn caused their unemployment.
Sometimes we could manufacture generalisations simply because we choose to ignore the bell curve and other statistical inferences.
How do we form the conclusion that unemployment among graduates is largely due to attitude problems and high expectations? Is this their “normal” behaviour?
For every graduate having an attitude problem, I think there is another one who is down to earth and willing to start at any level.
If we have high graduate unemployment rates, I think we need to look at explanations beyond attitude and high expectations. I believe reality and circumstances will to some extent mould our attitude and adjust our expectations.
Would graduates prefer to stay unemployed rather than accepting a more realistic salary? Maybe there are some who behave that way, but certainly we can’t generalise.
Is it fair to say most graduates live a pampered and cocooned life? Maybe there are some, but surely not everyone is like that.
When we have persistent high graduate unemployment, it pays to look beyond attitude and high expectation problems.
There are always two sides to a coin.
Have we produced more graduates than what our economy can absorb? Have we produced too many sub-standard graduates unable to meet employment requirements, i.e. they are unemployable, not just unemployed?
What about employers trying to exploit the graduates, just like the way they exploit foreign workers? If the salary offered is not even able to provide a decent living, who would want to work?
What if employers try to get more at the expense of employees? If employers have persistently labelled Malaysian workers as lazy, unproductive and expensive, it should not surprise us if they pay the workers lower than they deserved.
I think the arguments presented work both ways. If there are unrealistic expectations and attitude problems among graduates, there are also unreasonable expectations and attitude problems among employers.
We shouldn’t be too concerned with high salary demanded by graduates. If they can’t get the job, they will eventually lower their expectations and demands. Employers too must pay a realistic salary, failing which graduates will just withhold their services.
I think high graduate unemployment is probably a combination of several factors – too many graduates, lack of quality, economy not transforming fast enough, graduates too demanding, and employers too unreasonable.
It is too simplistic and unfair to dump everything on graduates and not on the economy and the employers.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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