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Experts Meeting: The Employability of University IT Graduates

“When we were not trying to make our graduates more employable, they were more employable. But now that we are trying to make them more employable, they are not,” noted Professor Rosni Abdullah at an Expert Meeting on Graduate Employability held in Penang, Malaysia, on 11-12 February 2009.

Professor Rosni’s comment, based on her up close and personal experience as the Dean of the School of Computer Sciences in the Universiti Sains Malaysia, provided some food for thought among participants at the Expert Meeting.

Organized by UNESCO, the two-day event sought to develop a framework for a research study on graduate unemployment and graduate employability in Asia. This topic is of particular relevance and interest to many governments in view of the current economic downturn in the first instance. However, of even greater concern is the underlying responsibility placed on universities as the repositories of valuable human capital to enable countries to compete successfully in the global economy. The phenomena of unemployed and underemployed graduates are common in countries such as India, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. In India, Indonesia and Philippines, this has led to the extensive export of professional workers to the United States and the Middle East.

The study aims to understand these issues – in relation to the programmes, curriculum, content, capacities and skills – better and to formulate policies for governments and HEIs to address them effectively. Particular attention will be placed on the employability of IT graduates in view of the rapid developments in technology and their associated changing requirements. The study will investigate how HEIs prepare their IT graduates to meet labour market demands in selected countries: China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The results of the study will be presented at a regional seminar, tentatively scheduled to take place at the end of 2009.

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