Employability skills among the students of technical and vocational training centers in Malaysia

Tags: European Journal of Social Sciences, employability, employers, employability skills, moderate level, required, interpersonal skills, industrial training, basic skills, personal quality, Respondents, quality workers, Education and Training, electronic field, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Malaysia, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Faculty of Educational Studies Universiti Putra Malaysia, vocational training, Information Skills, informational skills, mean and standard deviation, training institutions, thinking skills, item, items, Universiti Putra Malaysia, technology skills, ERIC Digest, Rahmah Ismail, Johns Hopkins University, Journal of Youth Studies Australia, Economic Value of Education, Journal of European Industrial Training 23, Columbia University., Vocational Education, skill, skills, electronic students, Washington State Employment Security, Standard Deviations, Applying technology, Manusia dan Perolehan Buruh
Content: European Journal of social sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) Employability Skills Among the Students of Technical and Vocational Training Centers in Malaysia Fitrisehara Kazilan Universiti Putra Malaysia Ramlah Hamzah Corresponding Author, Associate Professor, Faculty of Educational Studies Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang Selangor, Malaysia E-mail: [email protected] Tel: 603-89468136; Fax: 603-89468246 Ab. Rahim Bakar Universiti Putra Malaysia Abstract The purpose of this research is to investigate the level of employability skills among the students of a technical and vocational training institutions. There are about 436 final year students from the institution were chosen as a sample of this research. The data was collected by questionnaires which was adapted from Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). Descriptive analysis and inferences such as ANOVA, and t-test were used to analyzed the data. This finding showed that the majority of the respondents are male. Most of them pursuing education in Certificate of Skills in one of these five area of specializations: art and building, electric, electronics, automotive and mechanical. The finding indicated that the employability skills among students were average. The findings also shown that there was a significant difference between employability skills and area of specializations. There were significant difference between employability skills for Basic Skills and informational skills and gender. The study suggests that Technical and vocational educational Department should provide a curriculum which includes employment element skills which are needed by the employers. The institutions and the industry should also create a compact joint-venture for students need in order to produce higher quality workers. Keywords: Employability skills, technical and vocational training, gender, 1. Introduction Employability skill is a group of important skills instilled in each individual in order to produce productive workforce. This is parallel with individuals who have strong characteristics such as a high sense of self, innovative, productive, skillful, competitive, a strong sense of determination, and creative in facing the challenges of the nation as well as globalization in the 21st century. Besides that, employability skill is also crucial in all professions as well as in education (Overtoom, 2000). Lankard (1997) stated that the current working environment differs from the previous one. This is because with global competitions, cultural diversity, latest technologies and the process of new management required workers to have critical thinking, able to solve problems besides excel in 147
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) communication skill. Curriculum that could fulfill the criteria as required in the job market could assist and make it easier for students to face challenges and to secure a place for themselves in employment. Along with that, a few researches had been carried out to determine the employability skill among students. One of the researches was done by De Leon and Borchers (1998) who studied on the skills required by Texas graduates to serve in production industry. De Leon and Borchers used employers as research respondents. This research emphasized on a few skills such as reading, writing, calculating, communicating, critical thinking, interaction in groups, self development, computer skilled, technical system, leadership and employability. This study found that the three most important skills required by employers are interaction in groups, employability and self development. The study done by Smith (2004) regarding the involvement of teenagers in occupations found that employers laid the importance of displayed attitudes in opting for new workers. Smith also discovered that 60% of final year students in colleges and universities in Australia worked part time in order to train themselves as well as to gain experience as new employees. New students who wanted to increase their capabilities and business skills were encouraged to work part time. Employers also felt that one of the key factor that will be given consideration when searching for new employees is their employability skill that is required for development of career path. (Smith, 2004). Employability skill is in fact a skill required in employment. The preparations to acquire employability skill begin when a person is still in the learning process. Thus, a board by the name of Secretary Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) prepared reports on ways of assisting educational institutions and schools in producing younger generations who are willing to work. SCANS (1991) stated that most graduates were yet to have good knowledge on the basic of occupations. In the beginning SCANS's report identified seven skills related to a certain task. However, after the renewal of SCANS's (2000) report, two groups of skills were formed. They are general and efficiencies. SCANS's approach is suitable for institutions in their preparation of producing students to have employability skills to work in industry. SCANS (2001) emphasized that skills and effectiveness are also a part of the measures taken to ensure students to master the criteria required by employers in order to produce high profile workers in various fields and careers. This is because of SCANS mainly highlighted on students' future and to ensure students in getting the right skills during school days. 2. Previous Research This research is based on human capital theory. According to Schultz (1963), human capital is a theory which displayed the role of investment in education in order to boost economic and social achievements. Investment can be seen as a role to prepare facilities or as financial contribution to increase the quality of education. Education on the other hand is a process to create potential and talent. In other words, education is also intended to train, discipline and reveal one's ability. This means that education and the increase of productive workers among students is a form of human investment. Besides that, human capital is also regarded as labor input needed for a country's economic growth and development. Planning, investment and educational development involved economical aspects such as formal and informal education and non-economical aspects such as attitude influential factor and one's reliability. Schultz also stressed out that investment in education is not a waste. In fact it is very useful to increase workers' productivity and a nation's economy. This is because education enhancement among the workforce will produce quality workers besides increasing production of the country. The effect could be seen in term of its economical gain towards the nation. Becker (1962; 1964) believed that the height of workforce production have positive relationship with the educational and training form in which the higher the educational and training form a person gets, the higher the productivity achievement of an individual. This theory will be the basic understanding in choosing the skills required by employees or trainees where in the end of it they will be able to identify the effects of the 148
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) skill selection. Becker (1964) explained that education and training received through knowledge delivery and useful skill presentations would be able to increase employees' productivities and at the same time lead to the increase of incomes which could improve employees' life. Other than that, Becker also stated that motivation and dedication in performing duties is a worker's productivity whereas income becomes the motivation to work hard and aspiration in a career. Human capital is also a determiner for individuals' or employees' income which could be related to certain facts such as individuals who have higher education are easier to get jobs. Besides that, employees' education and training have an important relationship with the level of production. This is because education and training are life long learning process and function as the key to produce qualified and skilled human capital. Education and training are also strategies to prepare source of labor which could develop the socioeconomic (Abdul Rahman, 2006). Apart from that, human capital also influenced one's level of maturity, personality, and steadiness that could bring success in the field that the person is involved (Rahmah Ismail, 1996). According to Lange and Topel (2004), a person with great skills will be able to increase employers or the workplace productivity. Therefore, the application of human capital towards every person will most likely increase economic productivity. This research lays emphasis on the usage of human capital theory in order to constitute soft skills required by current employers and industries. Human capital theory clarifies that the formation and implementation of soft skills or employability skills at this point in time would leave a great impact on students who will soon enter the working world. Employability skill is a non-technical skill. This skill consists of the characteristics required by employers. Another criteria required by employers in employees is the technical ability. The characteristics of employability skill are reading, counting (basic arithmetic), and other skills such as Problem Solving, decision making, broad mind, trustable, good attitude, able to cooperate and effective (Buck and Barrick, 1987). According to Robinson (2000), employability skill is not similar to an occupation or technical skill. This skill derives naturally compared to job specifications and consists of all types of industries, business sizes and phases of occupation. Apart form that, Robinson also stated that employability skill is the basic skill needed for one to get a job and enable him or her to carry out duties well. This skill is closely related with attitudes and actions. For instance, employees must cooperate with senior employees' apart from voicing out their opinions, suggestions and to come up with decisions. Fugate et. al, (2004) provide a conceptual definition of employability skill in which it is a form of an active adjustment of individuals towards certain occupations until they could identify and recognize existing career opportunities in the work place. Employability skill could also assist employees to adjust themselves towards various changes and to increase working abilities which suit the working environmental needs. 2.1. Statement of Problem The rapid development of the current working world needs proficient workers mainly in fields which involved latest technologies. The number of workforce in Malaysia has increased up to 1.3 million where there is an increase from 8.3 million in the year 1995 to 9.6 million in the year 2000 which shows an average of 3.0 percent increase per year. Most of the proficient and non-proficient workforces are produced by public and private training institutions. The unemployment level remains at the average of 3.1% (Malaysian Government, 2001). A research conducted by Nation's Higher Educational Research Institution (2006) stated that the matter which concern employers the most is the industrial training received by the trainees. For employers, the industrial training one received could increase the level of productivity. Nevertheless, employers stated that most trainees took at least six months to build the confidence and skills in their occupations. This could cause loss to the employers as a long period of time is taken up to train and build up confidence and skills among their workers. 149
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) Appropriate curriculum content in institutions is also a factor that influences trainers' production quality. Mismatch of skills occurred when there are imbalances in the curriculum content as the produced workforce does not match with industrial needs and the suitability of certain occupations in term of the skills that they are required to have (Mohd Yahya, 2003). Nonetheless, so far, there is no empirical data regarding employability skill of students who have studied in training centers. Thus, this study would like to explore the employability skills of students in skill training centers. 3. Objectives The general objective of this research is to analyze the employability skill in Training Institutions. The specific objectives of this research are as listed below: 1. To identify the level of employability skill among students. 2. To identify the level of employability skill in term of the aspects of basic skills, thinking, resource, information, interpersonal, system/ technology and personal quality. 3. To identify the differences of students' employability skill based on the selected demographics. 4. Methodology A descriptive method was used in this study. The population of this research is final year students from 13 technical and vocational training institutions. There are a total numbers of 2520 final year students. The numbers of samples are determined using the Cochran Sampling Technique (1977). Based on the Cochran Sampling, the sample size of a population of 2520 is equal to 346 people. In view of the fact that each institution has different total numbers of final year students, therefore percentage has been used. In this research a total numbers of 450 students have been randomly selected from each institution according to the percentage gained. This research uses questionnaires to collect the data. The questionnaires consisted of two sections. The first section is related to the demographic of respondents whereas the second section is about the aspects of employability skill. The research instrument has been adapted from Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills or SCANS (1991) and modified according to Malaysia's context. 5. data analysis Data is analyzed using the descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive analysis involves frequencies, percentages, mean and standard deviation whereas inferential analysis involves t-Test and ANOVA. Frequencies and percentages are used to explain the demographic items of respondents whereas mean and standard deviation are used to analyze level of employability skill of respondents. T-test is conducted to identify the differences between employability skills with the demographic variables. ANOVA is used to examine whether there are any differences among the employability skills based on respondents' field of study. A significant level of 0.05 is used by the researcher. 6. Results Upon 450 set of questionnaires sent, 436 (96.89%) set of questionnaires could be used for the analysis. Table 1 presents the frequencies and percentages of respondents' background. Most of the respondents in this study are male students (75.5%) whereas the rest are female students (24.5%). Majority of them are around the age of 18 to 26 years. (Mean = 20.44, SD = 1.38). The level of education shows that most respondents are doing Certificate of Skills (85.6%) whereas 14.4% respondents are students of Diploma in Technology. 150
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) Table 1: Respondents Demographic
Variables
f
Gender
Male
329
Female
107
Age
18 ­ 20
290
21 ­ 23
128
24 ­ 26
18
Level of Education
Certificate of Skills
373
Diploma in Technology
63
Field of Study
Art and building
130
Electrical
122
Mechanical
75
Electronic
68
Automative
41
Working Experience
Yes
280
No
151
Industrial Training
Yes
76
No
276
% 75.52 4.5 66.4 29.3 4.1 85.6 14.4 29.8 28.0 17.2 15.6 9.4 64.2 35.8 21.6 78.4
There are five fields of studies taken up by the respondents. A majority of the respondents is studying Art and Building (29.8%), followed by Electrical (28.0%). A look at the working experiences of respondents before they pursue their studies, the analysis shows that most respondents (64.2%) have working experience before pursuing their studies, whereas 35.8% of respondents do not have working experiences. Other than that, 78.4% of respondents still have not attended industrial training. Table 2 displays respondents' plans after completing their studies. A total numbers of 151 or 34.7 % students chose to work after completing their studies and 258 or 65.4% of students chose to continue with their studies. For those who chose to work, most of them (20.0%) would like to work in industry, 8.7% would like to work in government sector and 6.0% plan to have their own business after completing their studies.
Table 2: Frequencies based on the Plan after Complete Studies
Plan
f
Working with industry
87
Working (n=151, 34.7%) Working with goverment
38
Run a business
26
Study
Pursue studies
285
Total
436
% 20.0 8.7 6.0 65.3 100.0
5.1. Analysis of Mean and Standard Deviations of Respondents' Employability Skill The analysis presented in Table 3 shows the means and standard deviations for all aspects of employability skill. As a whole, the interpretation of respondents' employability skill is at the moderate level with (Mean = 3.86, SD = 0.36) where it is at the "have" level. Observation in every aspects of employability skill shows that most of the aspects are at the moderate level or "have level" and only personal quality is in the high level with the "really have" skill. Other than that, information skills show a mean score of 3.74 and standard deviation of 0.58 where it is the lowest aspect compared to the other aspects of employability skill. The aspect of 151
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) thinking skills which should be given emphasis on is also at the moderate level (Mean = 3.81, SD = 0.47).
Table 3: Mean and Standard Deviations for Aspects of Employability Skill
Aspects
Mean
SD
Basic Skills
3.84
0.48
Thinking Skills
3.81
0.47
Resource / Capability Skills
3.79
0.49
Information Skills
3.74
0.58
Interpersonal skills
3.95
0.51
System and Technology Skills
3.78
0.67
Personal Quality Skills
4.13
0.53
Overall Mean=3.86, SD= 0.36
The next table explains further particularly on the means and standard deviations for every items of basic skills, thinking skills, resource or capability skills, information skills, interpersonal skills, system and technology skills and personal quality skills. Table 4 displays five items of basic skills such as reading, writing, mathematics, hearing, and talking. "Listening" as one of the items of the basic skills has the highest mean level (Mean = 4.00, SD = 0.69) followed by "speaking" (Mean = 3.96, SD = 0.71). Whereas, "mathematics" has the lowest mean level with (Mean = 3.67, SD = 0.69). The findings also show that five upon six of the items of basic skills are at the moderate level.
Table 4: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Basic Skills
Basic Skills
Mean
SD
Reading
3.78
0.70
Writing
3.81
0.69
Mathematics
3.67
0.79
Listening
4.00
0.69
Speaking
3.96
0.71
Overall Mean=3.84, SD= 0.48
Table 5 shows that the highest mean item for the aspect of thinking skills is "decision making" with (Mean = 3.97, SD = 0.65). Respondents also have a high skill in term of "seeing Things in the Mind's Eye" (Mean = 3.86, SD = 0.72) and `problem solving' (Mean = 3.85, SD = 0.61). The item `reasoning" has the lowest mean score (Mean = 3.63, SD = 0.73) for the aspect of thinking skills. The findings also show that all items are at the moderate level.
Table 5: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Thinking Skills
Thinking Skills
Mean
SD
Thinking creatively
3.78
0.71
Decision Making
3.97
0.65
Problem Solving
3.85
0.61
Seeing Things in the Mind's Eye
3.86
0.72
Knowing how to learn
3.78
0.68
Reasoning
3.63
0.73
Overall Mean = 3.81, SD = 0.47
Respondents stated that they have a high skill level in term of the skills related to "risk management' (Mean = 3.90, SD = 0.69), `Time management' (Mean = 3.87, SD = 0.67) and `Equipment and facility management' (Mean = 3.80, SD = 0.70). The lowest mean score for resource
152
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) or capability skill is the `financial management' item (M = 3.65, SD = 0.73). All of the items are at the moderate level.
Table 6: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Resource/Capability Skills
Resource/Capability Skills
Mean
SD
Time management
3.87
0.67
Financial management
3.65
0.73
Materials and facility management
3.80
0.70
human resource management
3.72
0.71
Risk management
3.90
0.69
Overall Mean =3.79, SD = 0.49
The item that has the highest mean for information skills is `use computer to process information' (Mean = 3.80, SD = 0.80) as presented in Table 7. The item `Organizes and maintains information' has the lowest mean for the aspects of information skills with (Mean = 3.69, SD = 0.73). The findings also show that means for the four items are at the moderate level.
Table 7: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Information Skills
Information Skills
Mean
SD
Acquires and evaluate information
3.72
0.73
Organizes and maintains information
3.69
0.78
Interprets and Communicates information
3.72
0.72
Uses computers to process information
3.80
0.78
Overall mean =3.74, SD=0.58
Whereas, Table 8 displays a high mean for almost all items of interpersonal skills. The highest item is related to `Teaching others' (Mean = 4.07, SD = 0.67) followed by `Participate as member of a team (Mean = 4.06, SD = 0.67). Four out of the six items are at the moderate level.
Table 8: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal Skills
Mean
SD
Participate as Member of a Team
4.06
0.67
Teaching others
4.07
0.67
Serves customers
3.89
0.76
Use leadership ability
3.86
0.72
Negotiates
3.87
0.70
Work with Diversity
3.97
0.74
Overall mean = 3.95, SD = 0.51
Table 9 displays the highest mean for system or technology skills which is the item `Maintains and troubleshoots Equipment ` (Mean = 4.16, SD = 0.65). This is followed by the item `Observe and improve on the implementation' (Mean = 3.92, SD = 0.72) and `Selects Technology" (Mean = 3.69, SD = 0.67). Whereas the item that has the lowest mean level is `Applying technology to tasks' (Mean = 3.69, SD = 0.88). This skill only displays an item which is at the highest mean level whereas the rest of the items are at the moderate level.
153
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) Table 9: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of System and Technology
System and Technology Skills
Mean
SD
Understanding Systems
3.67
0.69
Observe and improve on the implementation
3.92
0.72
Selects Technology
3.90
0.67
Applying technology to tasks
3.69
0.88
Maintains and troubleshoots Equipment
4.16
0.65
Overall mean = 3.78, SD= 0.67
Table 10 displays the means and standard deviations for the aspect of personal quality skills. The item `Honesty' (Mean = 4.28, SD = 2.01) has the highest mean level. This is followed by `Self Confidence' (Mean = 4.26, SD = 0.62) and `Good work attitude' (Mean = 4.25, SD = 0.65). Means of all the items show that only an item is at the moderate level whereas the other eight items are at the high level.
Table 10: Mean and Standard Deviations for the Aspect of Personal Quality Skills
Personal Quality Skills
Mean
SD
Responsibility
4.17
0.65
Self Confidence
4.26
0.62
Sociability
4.17
0.67
Self Management
4.01
0.67
Honesty
4.28
2.01
punctual and efficient
4.05
0.68
Adaptable and flexible
3.95
0.70
Self control/ self directed
4.01
2.05
Good work attitude
4.25
0.65
Overall Mean = 4.13, SD = 0.53
5.2. Differences of the Employability Skill based on the Selected Demographic Variables Table 11 presents the analysis done to determine the differences of employability skill among students based on their field of studies. The analysis of variance or ANOVA shows significant differences between the mean of employability skill and field of studies F(4,431)=3.041, p<0.05. Whereas the results of Scheffe's test presented in Table 12 shows employability skill of students from different field of studies differ from the significant level. This could be seen in the mean for Electronic students (Mean = 3.98, SD = 0.37) and Art and Building students (Mean = 3.79, SD = 0.41). The analysis revealed that students in the Electronic field have more employability skill compared to students in the Art and Building field.
Table 11: ANOVA of Differences in Employability Skill in relation to the Field Of Studies
Sources
df
Between Groups
4
Within Groups
431
Total
435
F(4,431)=3.041, p<0.05
Sum of Squares 1.853 65.680 67.533
Mean 0.463 0.152
F 3.041
p 0.017
154
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) Table 12: Scheffe's Test of Differences for Employability Skill in relation to the Field of Studies
Fields
n
Mean
SD
Electric
122
3.89
0.36
Electronic
68
3.98*
0.37
Automative
41
3.84
0.35
Mechanical
75
3.86
0.42
Art and Building
130
3.79*
0.41
Table 13 presents the differences between all aspects of the employability skill. The analysis shows significant differences in term of basic skills between male and female students, t(434)=-2.532, p<0.05 where the mean of basic skills for female students is higher (Mean = 3.94, SD = 0.51) than the mean for male students (Mean = 3.81, SD = 0.46). Although the mean for thinking skills is higher for female students (Mean = 3.84, SD = 0.52) than male students (Mean = 3.80, SD = 0.45) but there are significant differences between thinking skills and gender, t(434)=-0.846, p>0.05. Thus, the results clarified that male and female students have the same level of thinking skills.
Table 13: t-Test analysis on Differences Between Aspects of Employability Skill with Gender
Aspects
Gender
n
Mean
SD
Basic Skills
Male
329
3.81
0.46
Female
107
3.94
0.51
Thinking Skills
Male
329
3.80
0.45
Female
107
3.84
0.52
Resource/Capability Skills
Male Female
329 107
3.77 3.84
0.45 0.58
Information Skills
Male
329
3.70
0.52
Female
107
3.84
0.73
Interpersonal Skills
Male
329
3.94
0.46
Female
107
4.00
0.64
System and Technology Skills
Male Female
329 107
3.76 3.87
0.53 0.61
Personal Quality
Male
329
4.12
0.56
Female
107
4.17
0.44
df
t
p
434
-2.532
0.012
434
-0.846
0.398
434
-1.269
0.205
434
-2.127
0.034
434
-0.974
0.331
434
-1.785
0.075
434
-0.835
0.404
Apart from that, there is a significant relationship between information skills and the male and female students, t (434) =-2.127, p<0.05. The findings stated that the level of information skills between male and female students differ with female students to have a higher mean (Mean = 3.84, SD = 0.73) than the male students (Mean = 3.70, SD = 0.52). Table 14 explains the differences between employability skill among students with industrial training status (have or have not). T-test analysis does not show any significant relationship between employability skill and the status of students based on their attendance for the industrial training, t (350) =0.402, p>0.05. Therefore, the employability skill along students who have attended industrial training and those who have not attended industrial training are the same.
Table 14: T-test Analysis on Differences between Employability Skills with Industrial Training
Aspects
Status
n
Mean
SD
Employability Skill Have
76
3.85
0.38
Have not
276
3.87
0.41
df
t
p
350
0.402
0.688
155
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) 6. Discsussion, Conclusions and Recommendations 6.1. Discussion The findings of the research stated that students' employability skill as a whole is at the moderate level. The results showed that students' skills need to be improved in order to increase their employability skill. In term of basic skills, the `mathematics' item is found to have a low mean score. Mathematics is an important element to carry out duty especially production works and works which involved technological tools. According to De Leon and Borchers (1998), employers in Texas valued mathematic skill as the second most important skill where the skill was not provided by employers yet it is strictly required in occupations. In the other hand, Mitchell (2001) stated that 80.6% of employers pointed out that they needed workers with basic mathematic skills. Besides that, a research done by Northern Virginia Community College (2000) stressed that employer gives priority to mathematical skill and basic calculations when working such as the usage of mathematics in computer and calculator. When it comes to the thinking skills, `reasoning' item has the lowest mean score. Reasoning is truly significant to make quick decisions logically or to interpret something and making conclusion out of them. The conclusion done should be based on thinking as well as other related considerations. Logical thinking is similar to critical thinking where the knowledge gained from reading materials for instance combined with useful information in daily activities (Emery, 1999). The basic of critical thinking is knowledge. Knowledge is important to enable a person to discuss certain topics and to make overall conclusion (Margison, 1999). Aspect of resource or capability skills showed that the `financial management' item has low mean score. Financial management usually involves business. Vocational students are encouraged to get involved in business after completing their studies with the skills attained. For those who choose to get involved in business, aspect of financial management becomes the important feature in management. According to Godfrey (1997) financial management and business studies should be included in vocational program in order to expose students to the business and industrial world. In term of the aspect of informational skills, `organizes and maintains information' item has the lowest mean score. Ability to organizes and maintains information are widely used in management works. According to Zolingen (2000) skillful employees stated that the key to successful work is the ability to protect information with a mean level of 4.54. It could be said that the workplace is a place to develop social skills and a place to learn ways of keeping and protecting information. The next aspect of skill to be looked at is the aspect of interpersonal skills. The item `use leadership ability' has the lowest mean score. The ability to lead is very important in any occupations. This is because, according to the research done by Zirkle (1998), most vocational instructors stated that leadership skill (Mean = 3.05) is very important to develop schools to meet up with careers as this skill is needed as a part of preparation to enter the working world. Other than that, Gabriel (2000) mentioned that 16% of employers stated that the ability to lead is very important, 29% said that it is important, and 41% said it is quite important to practice it in professions. Apart from that, the item that has the lowest mean score in the aspect of system and technology skills is `applying technology to tasks'. The application of technology to perform tasks among employees who serve in the production field is very significant as contemporary industries used various latest technologies from foreign countries to simplified works. Bunn and Stewart (1998) stated that technical board members agreed with the fact that the skills to use technologies are crucial to develop basic skills where 91% of respondents mentioned that the basic skills developed could assist vocational party to prepare skills required in the industry. Other than that, De Leon and Borchers (1998) noted that 80% of employers mentioned that the application of technologies to carry out duties is highly required. In addition, according to Yahya Buntat (2004), the application of technologies, tools and systems in work is considered important and required by the industry. 156
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) As for the aspect of personal quality, the item `adaptable and flexible" has the lowest mean score. The ability to adapt such as to overtly face the working environment is a must in occupations especially in industry as it involved many employees. Clarke (1997) clarified that employers need flexible workers who are able to face any challenges in workplace besides able to motivate themselves to get through those challenges. Verhaar and Smulders (1999) mentioned that working with various races, cultures and languages is challenging as employees must be willing to cooperate. The findings stated that there are significant differences between employability skill and the field of studies. Apart form that, the study also found out the differences between electronic field and the art and building field with employability skill. According to the study done by Council of Ontario Universities (1998), electronic field basically produced many career opportunities in various related fields that the application of employability skill in tasks and careers are really needed. Therefore three quarter of the research respondents stated that they should display employability skill a part from management and technical skills when they are at work. It can be concluded that most likely students in the electronic field are the ones frequently accepting employability skill since there are many career fields which enable them to learn employability skill from any other careers. Besides that, the numbers of electronic students is less compared to students in the art and building field. This also has became the reason for students in the electronic field to accept employability skill more easily during learning process and to apply the skill in every tasks given as well as to gain instructors' attention. The results of the research found no significant relationship between employability skills and the plan after studies. However the findings also signified that most students who chose to work and study have moderate level of employability skill. It can be noted that even though students have their own plans of what they wanted to do after completing their studies, the employability skill that they have are still at the moderate level. According to Cassidy (2006), students will choose to continue their studies if they are not prepared enough to work. Whereas, according to Velde and Cooper (2000) the experiences gained through programs of employability skill are also important to provide students with confidence so that they could decide on their futures. As a whole, there are only significant differences seen between basic skills and information skills with gender where the female students have more of those skills compared to the male students. Conversely, the findings contradicted with the research done by Mitchell (2001) who stated that there were only significant differences between system and technology and gender where the perceptions of the female students towards the skill are more important compared to the male students in order to enter the working world. This may differ from the research objective as it evaluates obtain level as well as the research by Mitchell who evaluated perception about employability skill. Based on the test carried out, there are no significant differences between employability skill and students' status based on their attendance for industrial training where students who attended as well as students who do not attend industrial training have similar employability skill. In the research done by Washington State Employability Security (1998) it is stated that 85% of students have to undergo industrial training as an employment preparation program. Other than that, students could gain employability skill by focusing on training and skills that they gain as if they were in an occupational situation. Students' knowledge regarding the working world should also be expanded by providing information about industries and type of occupations that they may have to go through (Lawson, 2004). Beside that, tools, facilities and technologies used by students during training period should be up to date so that students would not be left out. The same goes for the received skills (Council of Ontario Universities, 1998). 6.2. Conclusions Based on the research done regarding the employability skill of students, a summary could be drawn as listed below: 1. As a whole, the level of employability skill among students is at the moderate level. 157
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) 2. Six out of the seven aspects of employability skill stressed are at the medium level whereas only the aspect of personal quality is in the high level. The aspect that has the lowest score is the aspect of information skill while the aspect that has the highest score is the aspect of personal quality. 3. The findings of the research also stated that there are significant differences between employability skill and the students' field of studies. The outcome of this research showed that employability skill of students from different line or field of studies such as in art and building, electric, electronic, mechanical, and automotive varied from the significant level. The analysis discovered that students in the electronic field have more employability skill than students in the art and building field. 4. Analysis of the differences between employability skill and gender found that only basic skills and information skills have significant differences. Both aspects of the skills showed that the female students are found to have more of those skills than the male students. Besides that, the aspects of other skills showed that both male and female students have the same level of employability skill. 5. The findings also found out that there are no significant differences with employability skill in relation to students' status in term of their attendance for industrial training. This means that students who have and have not attended industrial training are the same. 6.3. Recommendations This research has identified a few weaknesses of employability skill among students in training centers in which most aspects of the skills are at the moderate level. Therefore, the weaknesses should be given attention to avoid them from leaving impacts on graduates who will be entering the working world soon. As a regard to the matter, other parties such as the industries, parents as well as instructors in the institutions will have to work together to shape employability skill in students regardless of gender or students' field of studies. This is because the skills learned through daily social activities, civil realizations of one towards the environment as well as behaviors and positive mentality are encouraged for both male and female. Both groups deserve to learn the same skills when they are still studying. Basically, students need to be given guidance. Hence, it has been the responsibility of institutions to provide relevant education which fulfils the requirement of current industrial market. Educational curriculum needs to be examined from time to time in order to ensure that the education received by students is relevant and up to date. Industrial training received by students need to be looked into and revised in term of its effectiveness to assured that students are clear with their job scopes later on. Besides that, instructors should practice employability skill during teaching and learning session so that it could assist students to understand ways of applying the skills by themselves. Motivators and counselors have to cooperate with institutions in the process of giving guidance and inspirations to students regarding the ways to increase employability skill from time to time in order to be excellent workers. Apart form that, apprentice programs are suggested to be carried out so that students will be able to understand employability skill better. This program will also serve the purpose to make students realized that employability skill is as important as technical skills. 158
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) References [1] Abdul Rahman Ahmad, 2006. "Pembangunan Modal Insan: Apa Dan Kenapa Perlu Dalam Konteks Organisasi Di Malaysia", Malaysia: Human Resource Academy. Siri Pengurusan Hadhari. [2] Becker, G.S., 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis. Columbia University and NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH"' Journal Political Economy 5, pp. 949. [3] Becker, G.S., 1964. Human Capital. A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education. Columbia University. National Bureau of Economic Research New York. [4] Buck, L.L. and R.K., Barrick, 1987. "They're Trained, but are They Employable?". Vocational Education Journal 67, pp. 24-47. [5] Bunn, P.C. and.L., Stewart, 1998. ,,Perceptions of Technical Committee Members Regarding the Adoption of Skill Standards in Vocational Education Programs", Journal of Vocational and Technical Education 14, pp. 1-14. [6] Cassidy, S., 2006. "Developing Employability Skills: Peer Assessment in Higher Education", Journal of Education and Training 48, pp. 508-517. [7] Cassidy, S., 2006. "Learning Style and Student Self-Assessment Skills"' Journal of Education and Training, 48 (2/3), 170-177. [8] Clarke, A., 1997, "Survey on employability", Industrial and Commercial Training 29, pp. 177183. [9] Council of Ontario Universities. (1998). Sectoral Skill Needs and The Role of Universities. Task Force on labour market Issues, Ontario Ministry of Education and Training. [10] De Leon, J.E. dan Borchers, R.E. (1998). "High School Graduate Employment Trends and the Skills Graduates Need to Enter Texas Manufacturing Industries", Journal of Vocational and Technical Education 15, pp. 1-19. [11] Emery, J.H., 1999, "The Employability Skills Discourse: A Conceptual Analysis of the Career and Personal Planning Curriculum", Conceptual Analyses of CAPP. [12] Fugate, M., A.J., Kinicki, and B.E., Ashforth, 2004, "Employability: A Psychosocial Construct, Its Dimension, and Applications", Journal of Vocational Behavior 65, pp. 14-38. [13] Gabriel, G. E., 2000, "Employee Characteristics and Skills Valued by Northern Virginia Employers", Office of Institutional Research, Northern Virginia Community College. [14] Godfrey, M., 1997, "Planning for Vocational Education, Training and Employment: A Minimalist Approach", International Journal of Manpower 18, pp. 206-227. [15] Institut Penyelidikan Pendidikan Tinggi Negara, 2006, "Kurikulum Universiti dan Literasi Tempat Kerja", Research Report, Retrieved 23rd June 2007 from www.usm.my/ipptn [16] Lange, F., and R., Topel, 2004, "The Social Value of Education and Human Capital", Retrieved September 6th 2006 from http://www.econ.yale.edu/~fl88/Handbook_Chapter.pdf [17] Lawson, R., 2004, "Work futures: Employability Skills and Attributes", Queensland Government, Department of Employment and Training. [18] Margison, H.E.J., 1999, "The Employability Skills Discourse: A Conceptual Analysis of the Career and Personal Planning Curriculum". ERIC Document ED435826. [19] Mitchell, M.L., 2001, "Importance of Workplace Skills Needs for Entry-Level Employment as Perceived by Secondary Vocational Students and Employers", Thesis, Doctor of Education. Graduate School of Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. [20] Mohd Yahya Nordin, 2003, " Isu dan Cabaran dalam Penyediaan Tenaga Kerja dalam Era Perubahan Teknologi dan Globalisasi". Working paper presented at National Seminar on Vocational Education and Training 2003, Kolej Tun Hussein Onn. 159
European Journal of Social Sciences ­ Volume 9, Number 1 (2009) [21] Overtoom, C., 2000, "Employability Skills: An Update", Center on Education and Training for Employment. ERIC Digest no. 220. Retrieved Oct 15th 2006 http://www.cete.org/acve/docgen.asp?tbl=digests&ID=105 [22] Rahmah Ismail, 1996, "Modal Manusia dan Perolehan Buruh", Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. [23] Robinson, J.P., 2000, "What are Employability Skills?" Alabama Cooperative Extension System. [24] SCANS, 1991, "What Work Requires of Schools. A Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)", Report for America 2000. U.S Department of Labor. [25] SCANS (2001), "About SCANS", Baltimore, Maryland: SCANS2000 Center, Johns Hopkins University. [26] Schultz, T.W., 1963, The Economic Value of Education. New York and London: Columbia University. [27] Smith, E. (2004). "Teenage Employability (Views of Employers)", Journal of Youth Studies Australia 23, pp. 47-53. [28] Velde, C., and T., Cooper, 2000, "Student's Perspectives of Workplace Learning and Training in Vocational Education". Journal of Education and Training 42, pp. 83-92. [29] Verhaar, C.H.A., and H.R.M, Smulders, (1999), "Employability in Practice", Journal of European Industrial Training 23, pp. 268-274. [30] Washington State Employment Security, 1998, "Studies in Industry and Employment. Apprenticeship in Washington: Effective, Underutilized". Labor Market and Economic Analysis Branch Carver Gayton, Commissioner. [31] Yahya Buntat, 2004, "Integrasi Kemahiran `Employability' dalam Program Pendidikan Vokasional Pertanian dan Industri Malaysia". Ph.D. Thesis. Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. [32] Zirkle, C., 1998. "Perceptions of Vocational Educators and Human Resource/Training and Development Professionals Regarding Skill Dimensions of School-to-Work Transition Programs", Journal of Vocational and Technical Education 15, pp. 1-20. 160

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