Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Specialist

About 30 years ago, I was having a debate in the room I shared with my younger brother, Dennis. He was basically a lazy bum and couldn't wait to quit school. He used to score good grades in school, but by form 5, he was among the poorest students in class. I think the SPM was then about half a year away, and he was still not studying. He justified it by saying that too many accountancy and engineering graduates had no job.

It was one of those economic downturns that Malaysia was suffering from; and many people were jobless, including the university graduates. That excuse was perfect for Dennis.

My argument was that—and it still is—during the economic crisis, perhaps university degrees and diplomas mean very little. But when the economy improves, and jobs become available again, who d'you think will be hired first—those with the degrees or those without?

Well, 30 years have since elapsed, and we now have many, many thousands of university graduates in the job market. Degrees and diplomas are no longer as valuable as before. Too many people out there have the so-called university degrees. But all too often they arrive at the job market without any clue of what the job is all about!

A valuation graduate attended her professional interview, and she was asked how to value a satellite. She claimed that the interviewers were deliberately trying to fail her by asking such a "silly" question. All too often, people would like to think that they are the so-called "specialists", but actually they know very little of their stuff to deserve that title.

A priest gave a ride to a beautiful young nun to a nearby town in his car. When they stopped at a traffic light, his hand wandered from the steering wheel to the nun's thigh. The nun showed no emotion; she merely looked at the priest and said, "Father, remember Matthew 7:7?"

The priest felt a little embarrassed; he withdrew his hand, saying, "I'm sorry, I sometimes lose control of myself; the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak!"

They duly arrived at their destination and the priest saw the nun off. But later that night it suddenly occurred to him to look up in the Bible what "Matthew 7:7" was all about.

Matthew 7:7—Ask and it will be given to you...

Sometimes, not knowing one's stuff may lead to loss of opportunities. And sometimes even the loss of a hand.

We have many, many university graduates around, but actually only some of them are Specialists.


Juin Yi Ng said...

I once had such conversation with my friends. And most of us agreed that degrees and diplomas are no longer an advantage when looking for a job. It is now merely a requirement. The competitions have simply moved a rung higher into the masters and PhDs.

But I do agree with you that the quality of current graduates leaves much to ponder upon. Take my course for example: they could've easily reiterated every single managements stated for each diseases on the textbook. Yet most of the time they failed to adapt what they have learned to a similar but slightly different case. When asked to justify their choice of decision they'll simply fall back to "Because the book says so".

Ah yes, the almighty book. It seems like the education system in Malaysia has failed to produce thinking students. Anything that was not mentioned in the book would've caused a major panic state.

Let's just hope that I don't fall into the "Because the books say so" category once I start working.

Cornelius said...

Juin Yi Ng,

I'm guessing you're a new visitor to this blog. But I'm happy to note that you are a repeat visitor. It must have meant you found something interesting here. Thank you for your comment.

I have on several occasions in the past criticized our Malaysian education system in this blog, but it is not something that we can do anything about. In fact, it is a wonder that nobody has come knocking on my door to tell me to keep my mouth shut, "or else..."

Memorization is the order of the day, and it is extremely difficult to change it!

English is still overwhelmingly used in the job market, and our leaders are fully aware of it. After a generation of neglecting the language, they claim that they are putting more emphasis on English now, but of course that is not really true.

I don't really care if they had diplomas and degrees, let alone masters and phDs, but if they can't handle English, their qualifications mean nothing to me, really.

But at least the politicians are happy that they achieved so many straight As every year!