The recent article in The Malaysian Insight essentially sums up the hurdles Malaysian companies face in their day-to-day recruitment drive. What this article suggests is that a section of Malaysian graduates are unemployable simply because of their less-than-stellar attitude. The writer further expounded that candidates with the right attitude are far more valuable than those with the right skill set for the job. And from our recruitment experience, this rings true.
Over the years, our clients have consistently specified to us, on top of their quantitative hiring requirements, that they want candidates with good attitude. Just that the definition of what "good attitude" is differs from one client to another. However, we think great attitude fundamentally boils down to this - someone's awareness and willingness. The awareness that we can be better and the willingness to become better.
Yet, this issue exposes something deeper lurking in the fabric of our society. What we are facing is multi-faceted - how we nurture our children, the challenges in our education system, the government's politically willingness to do the right thing, the current narcissistic culture of instant gratification and, yes, the employers themselves in their relentless pursuit of shareholders value. We are all responsible, some form or other.
Building an employable generation free from "bad attitude" begins at the very root of things - the family nucleus. Aside from other critical factors such as building a stable and loving environment, we, as parents, must look at inculcating discipline, industry, grit and the idea that privileges are earned not expected. Even less of digital gadgets is helpful. And I will be the first to admit that fail in this department many a times.
But the question is - what can we do now to address these graduates? After all, Malaysia has a young and growing workforce.
As a start, though a difficult and trying one to some of employers, we must continue to see this "lost generation" without tainted lens. How do we first start to build self-awareness in this group of graduates through a non-threatening discover and understand approach? An approach that speaks with them them instead of speaking to them.
That is why we started a new initiative called Positive (www.positive.asia) that publishes real and moving stories of ordinary people. This acts as a platform to help others discover and understand their very own potential and strength with the hope that they will be inspired to become better. We believe this to be the discover and understand model.
Perhaps then, we can work towards addressing the symptoms of our collective folly. Not all millennials are of the strawberry generation.
By Marcus Koh, PositiveLinks Asia