PUTRAJAYA - A university degree is not a ticket to get jobs and it may even be a stumbling block at times.
Deputy Education Minister Senator Chong Sin Woon said some graduates had to use their SPM qualifications to apply for jobs after their degrees literally led them nowhere.
"This is very sad but a reality," he said.
He added that they do not even dare to reveal that they were degree holders for fear of being deemed "over qualified", which could reduce their chances of being taken in by prospective employers.
In a interview with The Star yesterday, Chong said there were various factors for graduates failing to get jobs.
Apart from an increasingly competitive job market and a slowing economy, he said other reasons included a mismatch between the supply of the types of graduates and the availability of jobs relevant to their qualifications.
"The trend is to go for prestige-sounding courses like engineering, law and accountancy besides medicine and pharmacy for instance.
"Most parents and their children are either ignorant of the problems of mismatch later or they just follow the trend.
"Some of the graduates also find out later that they just do not make the cut for their chosen field," he said, with many opting to do all sorts of sales jobs to survive.
While many, if not all parents, want their children to have a university degree, Chong advised them to be pragmatic in their choices.
He pointed out that some people were more suited to be a skilled worker and thus vocational or technical training was suitable for them.
"But sad to say, not many people in Malaysia turn to vocational or technical training.
"They do not see such courses as a choice but a last resort," he said, advising Malaysians to review their perception on this.
In fact, Chong said vocational and technical training was already very popular in advanced countries, comprising 70 per cent of students in Germany and 60 per cent of students in Taiwan.
"Those with training in a field they have interest in can go far in their career. Opting for a course just because it was trendy could spell the beginning of many disappointments," he said.