By MENG YEW CHOONG, [email protected]

TRADITIONAL or conventional industrial attachments do play their part in exposing undergraduates to the intricacies of the industry, while affording employers a chance to "talent spot" potential recruits. However, a mere three to four weeks in a company before someone graduates may not afford the opportunity for that process to take place under optimal conditions, or achieve the desired outcome for both parties.

Iconix Consulting Sdn Bhd, a five-year-old outfit, intends to change all that by taking the industry-student interface to another level. It recently launched Talent Ready 101, billed as a "unique hiring programme" that bridges the gap between industries and undergraduates. This initiative has received the blessing of the Higher Education Ministry, which sent Assoc Prof Dr Arham Abdullah, director of its Industrial Relations Division, to Talent Ready 101's recent launch ceremony at the Infrastructure University of Kuala Lumpur (IUKL).

Talent 101 is best described as a unique platform for introducing companies in the tech sector and undergraduates to each other way ahead of the job hunt process. "Often, companies complain they could not find the right talent. And sifting through resumes alone is no longer sufficient nowadays," said Kevin Tan, managing director for the consultancy. The consultancy was established by a group of professionals keen on serving the education and consultancy scene by delivering high quality training programmes in Malaysia that complements the needs of corporate and training providers. "We specialise in the provision of professional and training services focusing on human capital development. "Our highly qualified subject matter experts offer their expertise in the area of information and communication technology, software engineering, electronic technology, and big data analytics," said Tan on this pilot project that brings about a new era in cooperation between the academia and the industry.

In his speech congratulating the chosen universities and thanking the various participating employers, Dr Arham said Talent Ready 101 holds great promise in boosting employability. "It is my humble wish that this programme would bring a change to graduate employability," he said of the pilot project that features Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Taylor's University, INTI International University, Nilai University, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak campus, Universiti Putra Malaysia, International Islamic University Malaysia and IUKL.

On the reason behind Talent Ready 101, Tan said there is a mismatch between what employers and potential employees are looking out for. "We realise employers have difficulty in finding the talents they want. At the same time, graduates also want to know whether they could contribute to a company in a meaningful way, or whether the company's value and direction are in alignment with their aspirations. "There is a mismatch here. You can say the talents are selective - at the same time, employers are also selective.

"But then, they are not communicating with each other. So we provide them a platform to showcase each other's capabilities, so that they can get to know each other even before the job hunt starts," Tan argued that Iconix's role is beyond job matching. "It is not just about submitting a resume. Evaluating someone from just taking a glance at the resume is no longer valid.

"And in today's connected world, if a graduate does not like what he sees here, he can always go work elsewhere, even out of the country," said Tan, who added that as far as the tech sector is concerned, it is no longer about being book smart. "It is about elevating the level of learning, and it is not through books or lectures. No matter how good your skill set is, it must be according to what the market requires so that you can contribute to revenue. The emphasis is on the end result," he said.

To get undergraduates "market ready", Iconix facilitates lectures for the targetted students at universities by arranging for speakers from participating employers. "It is at these lecture hours that industry consultants would be able to share their experience and knowledge on the required skills and latest trends. People from the industry talk about what the company can do, what it has done, and provide glimpses of what it does. This kind of sharing is priceless. "For undergraduates, this will allow them to know the skills they need to acquire before they start their job search. They will get a hint of where the industry is heading, and this will lead them to ask whether they are being trained or prepared for them.

"And when the industry sets the 'standard of acceptance', indirectly, there is pressure on educational institutions to upgrade themselves as well. Lecturers are being pressured to ensure they prepare their students." A Human Resources Development Fund-approved training provider, Iconix's own team members are also actively involved in the research and development of solutions.

Talent Ready 101 is supported by myStarJob.com, which will give guidance on resume writing, personal branding, and conduct psychometric tests to help the candidate discern the best career path.

For more information, go to iconixconsulting.com and mystarjob.com.