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DOES a perfect Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) score guarantee a student’s future and his/her ability to face the challenges of the world?

Of course, having a good CGPA score is crucial for students to get an award or a scholarship to further their studies or even to get an exemption for study loan, but does it guarantee a place in this competitive world, which demands more than academic excellence?

The short answer is “no” as there are many skills deemed lacking in graduates once they leave universities to find work.

The hard-and-fast technical and theoretical knowledge students learn in the classroom is only a part of what’s necessary to land them a job.

Today, employers are becoming more concerned with what they call the “skills gap” in graduates. They’re concerned that the young generation does not have the necessary “soft skills” to meet demands in the workplace.

Although a strong background in traditional “hard skills”, such as writing, mathematics and science, will always have its place in academic and career worlds, an increasing number of employers are looking for prospective employees with “soft skills”.

Soft skills include the ability to adapt to changing environments and the willingness to learn through experience. These are applicable across multiple disciplines and careers.

Soft skills cannot be learned through a single subject as many higher education institutions are trying to do; it is something that needs to be exposed at an early age by qualified facilitators, coupled with good parenting.

As such, it is important for our students to develop and master the soft skills in the early years at kindergarten and primary school before they enter secondary school, university or college.

Some of the soft skills that students should have are a pleasant personality, honesty and integrity, teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills, ability and creativity in problem-solving, time management and good leadership qualities.

The new integrated cumulative grading system proposed under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) will assess academic performance, as well as values, community service and leadership qualities.

The integrated grading system is said to be able to create more marketable and competitive graduates.

However, the system is new and it may take some time for the effects to be seen. At the same time, all education sectors and stakeholders need to work together and develop comprehensive and effective plans to produce graduates with enough skills to face the harsh realities and challenges of the working world.

DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW, 
Senior lecturer, Faculty of Syariah
and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Nilai, Negri Sembilan

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