Upskilling yourself: Why furthering education is becoming the new trend in Malaysia

The phrase ‘throw a stone, and you’ll hit a graduate’ pretty much sums up the state of our graduate pool here in Malaysia.

What once was regarded as a considerable achievement is now casually brushed off as a normal part of everyone’s lives. Well, what else is there to expect with the sudden bloom of tertiary institutions in the past few years, turning education into an accessible and affordable entity to local residents today?

With the community of Bachelor degree graduates expanding faster than ever, it only makes sense that to get ahead of the game, you’ll have to aim for something bigger and better. That is what further education, or even a Master’s degree offers its graduates – an edge for them to stand out in the job market.

According to the 2013 Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), globally, 76% of Malaysianswho were interviewed were currently seeking or considering additional education or training to pursue a new field of work. This number is 16% higher than the global average.

With a statistic like that, one can’t help but wonder: What’s with the current surge in pursuing further education?

Jeffry Goh, CEO of INTI International College KL (IICKL) shares his viewpoints with myStarjob.com, on the importance of upskilling oneself, and the reason further education is booming at this point in time.

Raking in the moolah

Perhaps, one of the most popular reasons that the working generation nowadays are looking to upskill themselves is a faster climb up the career ladder, which is most commonly followed by a salary increment.

In fact, at a global scale, 57% of those considering or currently pursuing further education or training were doing so in hopes of gaining a promotion with their current employer.

It’s only rational to expect a decent ROI for the amount spent on equipping oneself with knowledge and qualifications.

Keep up with the market

“So many companies are now looking for Master’s degree holders. It is a fact - if you want to stay ahead, you need to obtain the necessary education,” Jeffry repeatedly mentions throughout our chat.

For most executive positions, a Bachelor’s degree is currently the minimum requirement for the job. However, times are changing.

While a myriad of job listings out there are calling out for degree holders, those who are looking for more articulate applicants who can be groomed for management, are advertising for Master’s holders.

Consequently, those who recognise this fact are quickly jumping on the bandwagon to obtain their qualifications.

Change of career path

This is the time of the Gen-Y.

Falling into this category myself, it is quite apparent that our generation is stereotyped as unfeeling, restless job-hoppers. But because of that, we are also the generation who is willing to venture out of our original qualifications, to find the ideal match between our passions and our career path.

Once upon a time, it might have been unusual to find a graduated engineer or even a qualified doctor working as a marketer. Today, not so much.

Switching careers means having to obtain further qualification to upskill ourselves to our chosen industry. This is another scenario when further education would come into consideration.

Corporate encouragement

Individuals are not the only beneficial party in this upskilling process. Organisations are in dire need of employees who are highly skilled, and who at the same time remain loyal and engaged to the organisation that they work for.

Jeffry mentions that several corporate organisations have approached IICKL to partner up and offer their employees corporate discounts and sponsorships for the available courses. This attitude instils a strong learning culture among the employees, and keeps them highly motivated and engaged to their organisation at the same time.

And then, you have those that get personal encouragement from their superiors too. Business administration part-time student, Quah Guey Tung, 25 has a supportive employer who encourages her knowledge-seeking behaviour.

“My boss has said that he is okay with me completing my coursework or studying in the office, as long as I’ve finished all my duties for the day first,” says Quah.

Governmental encouragement

“In the Malaysian economy, in order for us to grow, the government must be able to deliver a pool of workforce that is competent, knowledgeable, and skilful,” says Jeffry, adding that this will drive foreign investors into the country.

It is not just private institutions that are encouraging citizens to upskill. The Malaysian government is also injecting efforts from their side to train up local talent, as well as attract foreign skilled workers, through their various scholarship and tax incentive programmes.

Now, more than ever, is the right time to pursue tertiary education, according to Jeffry. The opportunities, funding, and priorities have been set in place, and all our citizens need to do is capitalise on the moment.

INTI International University & Colleges (INTI) understands that upskilling is important across the economy, to develop high-potential corporate leaders and employees, who in turn drive high-performing institutions, businesses and industries.

Offering postgraduate courses which centres on business and marketing, INTI caters to working students by offering night time classes taught by qualified and supportive lecturers that cater to the needs of their working students.

For more information on studying while working, visit this link.