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Friday, December 31, 2021

English language among top 5 job skills needed, say employers


Malaysia is popular with overseas students and businesses because of the use of English, says a former MP who describes English as a national asset. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Proficiency in English is among the top 5 skills to be hired and to progress in a career, says the Malaysian Employers Federation.

MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the association’s 2021 survey of salaries of executives and non-executives showed that the top five skills needed to be hired were critical thinking, English proficiency, interpersonal skills, flexibility and adaptability skills.

“For recruitment and advancement in careers, English is emphasised and those with a good command of the language receive better starting salaries, faster progression, global postings and assignments,” he told FMT.

He said the private sector needed staff with a good command of English to be able to competently perform their tasks in a globalised marketplace.

Johari Ghani.

His comments come in the wake of former second finance minister Johari Ghani stating that a good command of English was important for youths from B40 low-income households to progress in their working life.

“English will help employees to better communicate with their colleagues,” he had said. He added that fresh graduates with poor English were finding it hard to secure jobs now as bosses wanted staff who could communicate across borders.

Blame politicians

Outspoken school principal V Chakaravathy said the decline in English proficiency among Malaysians started in the late 1970s as the focus shifted to Malay as the medium of instruction in schools.

“I am for Bahasa as a unifying factor but we started slacking on English, the language of mathematics and science,” he said. Some politicians had pushed the Malay agenda in the 80s without considering the consequences of neglecting English.

V Chakaravarthy.

Chakaravathy, who is in his mid-80s, said: “English has been sacrificed and poor English is now an obstacle to one’s progress in life.”

He noted that a lack of English proficiency had resulted in Malaysian officials attending international conferences becoming “wallflowers”, afraid to speak. “It is those from Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Pakistan who speak up at such conferences,” he said.

Even most English teachers, he said, wrote “rotten reports in the language”.

English a national asset

Tawfik Ismail.

Former MP Tawfik Ismail, the son of second deputy prime minister Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said being proficient or having a desire to learn another language did not make one less patriotic.

“English is a universal language and no longer seen as the language of colonisers or imperialists.

“Countries that have been at war with Britain and lost have not boycotted the English language,” he said, referring to remarks by PAS MP Awang Hashim that a loyal Malaysian must speak Malay in whatever sector he worked in.

Tawfik, a Gerak Movement candidate for GE15, said: “Knowledge of English is needed for well-paid employment, and sound education.

“The reason Malaysia is popular with overseas students and businesses is the use of the English language. So, ironically, it is a national asset which many are unaware of,” he added.- FMT

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