Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 103–122
Author: Régis Machart (Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia)
The large range of jobs that Malaysian undergraduates of foreign languages are often employed in after completion of their studies (education, tourism, banking, business, management, etc.) is not necessarily related to their major field of study. This situation often makes it difficult for lecturers to develop a comprehensive professional training for their benefit. In the early 2010s, unemployment rates of Malaysian undergraduates were increasing, although the job market was quite flexible. In order to improve students’ employability, Malaysian universities decided to restructure their curricula. Industrial training, or Latihan Industri (LI), became a new mandatory requirement for all future undergraduates of the new programmes from 2011. LI aims to match students’ academic training with the needs of the private sector. However, most companies were not prepared to accept the first influx of trainees from all types of programmes (sciences, social sciences or the humanities) in 2014. Consequently, many students could not find an appropriate LI position in the field they were studying, and were placed in positions for which they were poorly prepared. At the end of their LI, students had to submit a logbook of their activities as well as provide a final report in which they were asked to evaluate their experiences. A content analysis of these reports from four foreign language students who did their LI in different sectors (finance, education, industry and retail) provides interesting insights into the different skills required by Malaysian employers, irrespective of their sector of activity. The analysis of the reports raises the question of the adequacy of the academic training of foreign language students for the Malaysian job market, and the transferability of their acquired language skills to their new work environment.