In today’s competitive job market, it has become imperative for graduates to have both industry knowledge as well as the right qualification in order to gain an edge over the competition leaving us with the all-important question: What qualities do employers look for in prospect hires?
“We’re looking for bright, talented, enthusiastic employees who can grow and develop… Primarily future leaders,” Donald MacLeod, Amec Foster Wheeler’s country director for Brunei said. Amec Foster Wheeler recently recruited 16 graduates from Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB).
“We’ve been so far impressed with UTB graduates. They not only show technical capabilities, but also teamwork. I find them to be extremely skilled, especially in their presentation and communications skills,” Amec Foster Wheeler’s country director for Brunei said.
Sharing the same sentiments, Hjh Siti Rozana Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos, head of Corporate Services at BAG Networks added that resourcefulness and practicality are also qualities employers look for.
BAG Networks, who has an academic partnership with UTB, already has a number of the university’s graduates under their employment. These include graduates from various disciplines such as communications and computer systems, Internet and multimedia development as well as business and finance.
“We find that UTB is focused in producing industry-ready graduates… Another aspect which we have experienced with hiring UTB graduates is the passion and the drive to deliver as they continue to be open to learning opportunities and keep a consistent pace in terms of their development,” Hjh Siti Rozana said.
She added: “The exposure that they gain as a result of their work attachment also helps them ease into the work environment faster.”
GIVING GRADUATES A HEAD START
While it’s true that fresh graduates are commonly at a disadvantage in terms of experience, UTB have taken measures to ensure their students are well equipped for the reality of work life. UTB also employed credible, experienced, industry-background professionals to provide first-hand knowledge to its students.
Visiting Professor Dr. Morteza Jami, who teaches Petroleum Geology and Engineering at UTB, has over two decades of experience under his belt, and believes that sharing anecdotes with his students can help them develop a way of thinking and solving a problem that is relatable to the field.
Prior to taking up UTB’s offer, he has worked on projects mainly for oil and gas companies all over Southeast Asia, Australia, China and even South America. According to the Australian national, going back into teaching after being out on the industry for so long has changed his views.
“Returning back to being a university lecturer after so many years out in the field has changed my perception. You are no longer repeating other people’s opinions; instead (you are) passing on all the trade, tricks and responsibilities that you cannot learn theoretically,” he shared.
Meanwhile, founder of Singapore-based GM Concepts — who is also UTB’s Visiting Associate Professor, Mr. Bernard Lock, said that practitioners like himself bring to the classroom the realities of the industry.
“They [students] don’t have the years that I have went through [in the financial and investment market], but I can share… I try my best to share in hopes that when they go out to face the real world, they will not be too intimidated as this may delay their learning curve as an employee,” he said.
Sharing industry know-how certainly has an impact in producing work-ready graduates. At UTB, the students are also given the opportunity for work attachment and internship – UTB ExperiencePLUS to further enhance their industrial readiness.
AN EDGE OVER THE COMPETITION
Cynthia Foo Su Xin graduated from UTB with First Class Honors in Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering. Despite the saturated job market, she cinched a position as a civil engineer at a local company, only shortly after her graduation.
“Besides the knowledge gained from lectures and textbooks, I also learned practical skills from laboratory experiments as well as the short term internship assigned during our third year… I found that the lecturers and Professors in UTB are very supportive and helpful,” said the 25-year-old.
Not one to pass up an opportunity, Cynthia applied for a Chinese government scholarship and is currently undergoing a Master degree course in Geotechnical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.
“Before leaving to Shanghai for my study, I worked as a civil engineer for about a year. I was involved in several projects such as structural design and analysis for residential buildings using computer software and design of drainage… Basically, I have applied what I have studied in UTB into the projects that I was involved in.”
Also beating the odds by being offered a job by an international company, Nurhazirah Johari was offered a job before her graduation as she completed her studies at UTB. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering she joined Weatherford International as a field engineer.
According to Nurhazirah, she was able to hone her skills and knowledge whilst at UTB and found the university’s many programmes and activities beneficial for character building.
In line with the Government’s Vision 2035 to achieve Educated, Highly Skilled and Accomplished People through provision of education opportunities, UTB strives to equip its graduates with quality education, industrial experience and other added values to prepare and provide them with a competitive edge in today’s saturated job market not only in the Sultanate but also overseas.
Nurhazirah Johari at Weatherford Training & Technology Centre, Houston, Texas
Associate Professor Mr. Bernard Lock, Visiting Associate Professor at UTB and founder of Singapore-based GM Concepts
Visiting Professor Dr. Morteza Jami during an interview at UTB