During my time, it used to be a big deal graduating with a university degree. Nowadays, one degree is not enough anymore. There are those who stay in school up to their late 20s just to get their Masters and PhD. Such intellectual and academic pursuit among the younger generation is indeed a good sign of progress. However, mass quantity does not guarantee quality.

The deteriorating standards of education in Malaysia have been a public concern for many years. The effects are starkly reflected in the tertiary levels. Common complaints about undergraduates among employers especially in the private sector these days include poor language skills (particularly English), lack of problem solving skills and communications skills.

While all these skills can be nurtured to a certain point in school, problem solving and communications skills are better learned through experience. However, the Malaysian education system is still so academically driven that such soft skills are often not prioritised in the school syllabus. The delusion that academic skills are the most important to make it in the working world still grips the general mentality of many parents, and how can they be blamed when there is hardly any alternative that are tried and tested in this country?

There is no denying that knowledge is empowerment but in the real world, it takes more than just knowledge to make things happen, among them are creativity and attitude. Besides the shortcomings mentioned earlier, many undergraduates these days have been cited to take little initiative or have a negative attitude. Some may say that creativity is subjective but they cannot refute that bad attitude is largely due to upbringing. With such lackadaisical attitude, not even a first class in PhD can save you from getting the boot.

The notion that paper qualification is the stepping stone to getting a good start in your career still rings true. However, it does not guarantee success. In essence, there is more to what makes an outstanding employee than just pieces of certificates. The way forward should be aiming to be an all-rounder in having the right qualifications and attitude as well as soft skills. Of course, working hard doesn’t hurt either.

So, perhaps parents who are too hard on their children to score the perfect 10 As might want to relook at their parenting strategy. Are they raising a computer that outputs data or a human being who can think and act on their own to get the job done?

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