Employability Skills and Pre-Professional Identity in the Era of IR4.0: A Malaysian Perspective

Employability Skills and Pre-Professional Identity in the Era of IR4.0: A Malaysian Perspective

Adrian Shiew Ming Tang, Teoh Ai Ping, Yashar Salamzadeh
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5914-0.ch007
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The main idea of this chapter is to prepare a conceptual base for the link between employability skills and pre-professional identity of IT graduates in IR4.0 era. This framework and approach can shed light to the issue of lack of readiness in IT graduates in Malaysia to perform to the highest possible level on their jobs after graduating from university. This study uses the social identity theory as a starting point and tries to link it to the above-mentioned issue. This chapter prepares a deep literature review on the main variables related to its research goals, and while recognizing the research gap, proposes an initial framework for further studies in this field to solve the crucial practical issue mentioned above. The novelty of this research is inherent in both the methodology chosen and the approach used to link the constructs, and it can end in useful implications in the Malaysian context to solve this national issue. Of course, the finding of this research can be tested in other contexts as well.
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Malaysians have been discussing on the topic of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) for several years now. However, the country is still a long way from achieving the goal of implementing Industry 4.0. According to the CEO of the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC), only 15-20% of companies in the country are making the transition (Kaur, 2019). This is due to the lack of understanding from the workforce and a visible roadmap or direction from the company. It is clear that the current and future workforces in Malaysia are not prepared for IR4.0 (Rozana Sani, 2019).

The impact of IR4.0 on jobs is unpredictable; some may expect to lose their jobs, while others may believe that, like with past industrial revolutions, new and better jobs will be created instead (Beno, 2019). Regardless, IR4.0 is on its way, and it will almost certainly have an impact on the future of work. According to data provided by the (World Economic Forum, 2016), around 65 percent of primary school students will someday work in a completely new job category compared to the ones that exist today. Both quantitative and qualitative research studies from across the world have been conducted in an attempt to bridge the gap between the skills needed for IT graduates to help in the implementation of IR4.0 in the IT industry. However, based on the results we have today, the gap has not been closed, and if the issues remain unresolved, future IT graduates will face a significant challenge.

Malaysian IT graduates are having a difficult time searching for a job due to the lack of soft skills and the competitive nature of the labour market (Tasneem Nazari, 2020). Furthermore, due to the industry's massive number of job postings in the IT sector, vacancies are rarely filled (Pillai & Amin, 2020). This demonstrates that the demand from the IT sector is extremely strong, and so is the supply. Leaving the question of why are IT graduates finding it so hard to get hired? and why is the IT industry finding it hard to hire someone?

The skills gap between Malaysian IT university graduates and the essential capabilities for the IT sector to proceed to IR4.0 is a well-known issue for companies (Lam, 2021). The IR4.0 offered the industry with opportunities for growth and productive employment of graduates; nevertheless, the challenge is that IR4.0 may raise the unemployment rate of graduates if they are not prepared with the essential skills for the work role.

Although technological skills are essential for progress toward IR4.0, soft skills are becoming more important as well (Fareri et al., 2020). Soft skills are important for future occupations since they exhibit the prospect of social tasks such as teamwork, collaboration, and quick adaptation, which are required for a good outcome in the IR4.0 organization (Flores et al., 2020). As a result, concentrating just on IT abilities is no longer viable; graduates must also grasp all the other skills that are required for IR4.0 needs. To summarize, it is widely accepted that in order for IT graduates to be employed, they must be technically competent as well as have the non-technical capacity to apply their talents and abilities effectively in a variety of different working and social circumstances (Jackson, 2017).

This is seen when graduates are asked to define the job description, requirements, and expectations of the employment for what they are applying. They don't know how to provide an answer to the questions. This is not unusual for most of the graduates; in fact, many of them can relate to the fact that. As undergraduates, they are uncertain of the department they would want to apply. In the end, most of them would just end up applying for any positions that are available in job postings without a clear grasp of the work requirements, job descriptions, what is anticipated from that function, and how they can contribute to the job (Jackson, 2016a).

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