According to a survey of executives, local graduates are praised for their creativity and computer skills, but lack general knowledge and loyalty. To understand the expectations that local enterprises have of fresh graduates, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) tapped the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) to do a survey on the market needs for fresh university graduates under the 3-3-4 academic reforms.
In September and October last year, the CMA interviewed 326 managers in trading, retailing, marketing and manufacturing, of whom 75 per cent had hired fresh graduates. Most of the respondents said that a majority of graduates lacked soft skills and loyalty to their employers, had poor multi-tasking management skills, were ill-equipped at solving problems, and were prone to jump from job to job. They noted that graduates should have stronger business sense and global vision.
“The survey concluded that teenagers nowadays lack the direction for growth,” says Paul Lam Kwan-sing, CityU vice-president of student affairs. “If you have 10 jobs within two years on your résumé, it doesn’t mean you are well-rounded. Instead, employers will doubt your sincerity. Students have to realise that they shouldn’t change jobs just because they find them boring.”
CMA executive committee member Stella Lee Wai-fan agrees. “In the past, people didn’t talk about changing jobs until they had worked at a firm for at least a year. Now, people come and go every two to three months,” she says.
To help graduates under the 3-3-4 reforms thrive at work, CityU is launching Gateway Education (GE), so “students can identify courses for their development” and establish “business and common sense”, nurturing their multi-tasking management skills, innovative thinking and communication skills.
“GE can broaden the knowledge base of university students through practical experience and various research processes,” says Lam.
Doctor Emily Cheng Shuk-han, director of CityU’s Office of Education Development and GE, says diverse skills can help one thrive in the job market. “Some of the students have all-too-limited thinking. They define very clearly what they are and are not responsible for. But this is certainly not something that bosses want to see. One has to think more,” she says.
“For example, if you have an excellent product idea, you also need to consider the market and social demand, and how these can bring income to the company,” Cheng adds.
Lee advises students to be more proactive to win over their supervisors. “Work is not about meeting the minimum requirement,” she adds.
“Passionate people always give their best. I think students today are less proactive because they are given too many resources. This makes them less dedicated to work things out on their own,” Cheng adds.