PETALING JAYA - Corporate leaders are finding it hard to employ executives with proficiency in English and called for steps to be taken to arrest the decline of the English language among the workforce.
As for suggestions to revive English-medium schools as an option, education group HELP International Corp Bhd executive director Adam Chan Eu-Khin agreed it would be a good move because of the shortage of fluent English-speaking employees in the market these days.
"It has been difficult to employ people with good language skills," he said.
Chan believed that the Govern-ment could gradually increase the number of hours for English lessons as a start to re-implement English-medium teaching.
Westports Malaysia CEO Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said it was not easy to find graduates with a good command of the language although many of them could get by.
"I believe the Government has plans and I hope they can implement it soon. Schools should teach English, Malay and Mandarin with high standards.
"In my opinion, all Malaysian schools should harness the fact that we are a multiracial country. This would make Malaysian students far more competitive in the labour market," said Ruben.
He added employers were willing to pay higher wages for employees who have a good command of the English language.
"In order to give all children a chance, the quality of English should be improved at all levels including primary, secondary and also at college and university level," he said.
Accounting firm SJ Grant Thorton managing partner Datuk Narendra Jasani said competition now was not only from Singapore but also Thailand and Indonesia where the command of the language has greatly improved.
"The proficiency level of English amongst the workforce has decreased over the last 20 years.
"Companies using English therefore spend resources and time training employees in English and that has slowed down the interaction with their overseas companies and comprehending technical matters," he said.
Jasani believed that with better command of the language, the workforce would be able to tap the knowledge available as well as interact better with their overseas counterparts.
Branding and advertising agency Mercatus+ Malaysia managing director Biresh Vrajlal said that standards would need to be raised as they were currently not on par with the private sector's requirements.
He believed that parents must also be more involved in the development of their children's language skills.
"Encouraging their children to not only learn in school, but also speak and read in English outside of school as well. Without home support, skills taught in schools will not be practised," he said.