Oh my England!

Yesterday, The Star published a report on the declining standard of English, particularly among fresh graduates in the country.

According to Star Publications' human resources and administration senior manager Henry Asokan, he has heard phrases such as "I were studying communications" and "I no study thesis in my degree programme" from candidates.

"Some wrote ‘I were applying for the above positioned' and they want to apply for public relations, communications and journalism positions. How do you expect us to hire them?" Asokan added.

This all sounds too familiar. Having been in publishing most of my career, I've interviewed a fair number of candidates, most of whom can't string a sentence together to save their lives, let alone write an article.

And I'm very sure I'm not alone in this.

"The ability to communicate in a persuasive and convincing manner in English seems to be a challenge with them. This basic skill will put them in a back foot from the start of making the right impressions in the selection phase of any organisation that requires that skill especially in a marketing or advertising area of expertise," said Ari Krishnan, head of human resources, consumer banking, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia.

"This is due to our education system and institutions," he added.

According to Priya Bala, country manager at Font Talent, which specialises in recruitment for the digital, marketing and creative industries, "This is definitely a key requirement for all our client, in business communications. It is important for candidates to speak well and write well. In areas like social media, you cannot have a manager who can't write well."

Bala added that she has even come across candidates who write in the same way they would in a text message. "They seem to be unclear of what's professional and what's not when it comes to business," she said, adding that that is not the only challenge she faces with fresh graduates.

"Let's not forget the attitude some have. And you'd be lucky if they actually turn up for interviews," Bala added.

"We find that the ones who have studied abroad have better command of English and they're easier to place," she said.

"It's definitely a problem for the public relations industry. The Malaysian market is definitely not as mature. Even in places like Indonesia, you'll find that most would have better command of  English,' said a PR manager who requested to remain anonymous.

We would like to find out what you think. Email me at eelainew@marketing-interactive.com and share your challenges in hiring and thoughts on how we can improve this situation.