“You studied (insert parent approved degree here), but you work as a (insert less “honourable” job here)?”
That’s usually the type of questions graduates with mismatched degrees and jobs get. Some graduates even have to look to their SPM results to apply for jobs as their degrees proved to have brought them nowhere. This is alarming, says the deputy education minister, Senator Chong Sin Woon recently.
He mentioned that acquiring a degree—especially one that you didn’t want in the first place—doesn’t guarantee you a job, especially in our competitive job market and stagnant economy. He noted that taking up vocational, technical, or part-time short courses can be a better choice for some.
These courses teach and enhance a specific skill in specialised fields with a very hands-on approach, which is very different from undergoing a full 3-year degree. The best part is that it’ll only take a fraction of the time you would’ve spent in university to finish!
But where can find these courses? Below are some courses and workshops you can sign-up for and learn a new skill.
From wedding pictures to pictures of nature to #foodporn, taking the perfect shot boils down to one thing, technique. If you’re an aspiring photographer but have no idea what ISO stands for, look no further than Nikon School and The Print Room—two well-known photography workshops in Malaysia.
Nikon School has been around inspiring and moulding students with the passion for photography for over 30 years with their selection of classes thought by experts in the field.
Offering smart tips, new techniques, and a joint love for the camera, Nikon School assures you great fun during their short and full day classes. You’ll learn proper lighting, digital photography, and so much more.
The Print Room on the other hand, apart from offering their services to everyone from hobbyist to professionals, they also hold weekend classes to equip photographers with not only basic knowledge handling a camera, but hands-on photoshoots, all broken down to four weekend classes.
Many digital marketing agencies look for skilled photographers and video producers to join their team to craft quality content—check out creative jobs at companies such as 123RF,INKA Digital Agency, and Worthy Book on WOBB.
Another field that is well-known to hire those without proper paper qualification is the ever growing Tech industry. There are courses sprouting all over Malaysia to teach programming or online marketing without enduring a 4-year degree programme.
Next Academy offers a 9-week coding boot camp that’ll train you to be work ready as a world-class junior programmer, focusing on full-stack web development in Ruby on Rails. Teaching its students not only the basics of building fully functional web-apps but also the reality of the job requirement through its many hands-on pair-programming sessions.
Graduates from Next Academy were recently in the international spotlight when they won the MasterCard Master of Code 2015 Hackathon.
If you’re not willing to make the trip and stay in the Klang Valley for 3-months, there’s also The Coding Shophouse in Penang, the brainchild of Curry Khoo and Douglas Khoo (Nope, they’re not related!), which have previously held Ruby on Rails and Python courses taught by seasoned programmers—it’s mentioned that course fees are affordable and can be heavily subsidised.
You can check out their latest Android development course starting in March 2016.
After watching the surprise local hit-movie Ola Bola last week, it suddenly struck me—we actually have pretty decent up-and-coming actors and actresses!
Now we all know how to drama, but do we really know how to act? While some are born naturals, others need a little push, and by little, I mean by taking up FREE acting classes!
Yes, FTalent in APW Bangsar organises bi-weekly acting and communication workshops, 7.30pm on Tuesdays—teaching theatre skills to help polish effective communication skills and creative flow of the mind, body, and spirit.
Even if you’re not dreaming of the limelight, having good soft-skills to make negotiations or even small talk with clients is still an important attribute to have.
Started by Razif Hashim, graduate of the prestigious East 15 acting school in London, he hopes to build a community for people to express themselves, they’ll build their self-worth and confidence.
The FTalent Academy also provide classical training classes for students who are more serious about getting into showbiz—those who’ve completed their training will have the chance showcase what they’ve learned in a short monologue and short sketch done in pairs open to the public for a small fee.
Got the passion for fashion?
Located in the heart of Bangsar, Raksasa Print Studio, founded by the duo Jane Stephanny and Julienne Tan, both graduates from the School of Visual Arts, New York, offers something that not many art centres offer; they’ll teach you Silkscreen Printing.
What is Silkscreen Printing exactly? You’ll learn the art of making your own unique designs and print them on T-shirts, tote bags, skirts, handkerchiefs, textile, or any other type of fabric you can think of—the possibilities are endless!
This might just be your foot into the fashion industry if you’re thinking about being a designer or fashion merchandiser at popular homebred fashion companies such as Pestle and Mortar or Twenty3—hey, having hands-on experience is something employers always look out for.
Even if you’re not too keen on venturing into the exciting world of fashion, you can always side-hustle and set up shop for all your quirky and fun creations on Etsy to sell.
If your interest in good food goes beyond just stuffing your tummy with a whole load of yummy, perhaps you’d want to look into taking up cooking classes to hone the MasterChef in you.
The Chef Academy in Cheras offers culinary and baking courses available full-time (12 months) or part-time (3 months). You will learn practical and theoretical skills which includes menu planning, all sorts of cooking techniques, and even practise your english prowess to prepare for a job interview.
Lessons are available in both English and Mandarin, 3 days a week. By the end of the course, you’ll be presented with a Diploma in Culinary Arts by City & Guilds-International, London.
Another alternative, especially if you’re into delighting people’s sweet tooth, check out Baking Class Malaysia in Bangsar. Conducted by professional chefs, you’ll get to experience how to properly bake everything you can pick up from the bakery, from cupcakes, to croissants, to brioche, to pies!
If you’re opening up your own bakery or just want to get a head-start working your way up as a sous chef, vocational training would set you off faster than a degree in culinary arts. After all, people come back for the food, not for the degrees.
Still Flaunting That Degree?
Now, this doesn’t mean that degrees are no longer a valid ticket to a brighter future, because it still is for many many graduates in Malaysia.
But instead, we’re simply shedding light on alternative ways one can get employed without spending the time and money that they don’t have for a degree. It’s all about equipping yourself with the right knowledge rather than just for the sake of paper qualification.
They may be just short courses, but they can bring you far.
This article was originally written by Diana Sequerah with the title ”A Degree Is Not Your Only Road To Employment” and was first published on Wobb, a job application platform for millennials who value the importance of good working culture.