Integrating Soft Skills into Courses in Malaysian Public Universities

(Undergraduates’ Perception)

  • Maya David University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Neda Saeipoor Faculty of Language and Linguistics, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Keywords: Tertiary Education, Soft Skills, Employability, Educational Policy


Malaysian employers demand a high proficiency in soft skills. They are looking beyond academic results when interviewing new staff, hence undergraduates acquiring soft skills is an important issue from different perspectives: the employers, the education system and the students themselves. Despite this emphasis, potential employees, according to employers; lack soft skills. Considering the importance of this issue, this paper’s objective is to comprehend and highlight the perception of undergraduates of the soft skills programs in five research universities in Malaysia. The information presented in this paper is obtained from a survey conducted by distributing 600 questionnaires to undergraduates in Malaysia’s five research universities to determine their understanding of soft skills and how these skills are taught and evaluated in these universities. The initial findings show that there is a strong awareness of the importance of soft skills among undergraduates but the students are not clear about the methods of teaching and evaluating these skills in different courses in different universities. The results illustrate a need for universities in general to develop strategies to enhance soft skills teaching and learning and make undergraduates aware of how these skills are evaluated. The results also suggest that integrating soft skills into university courses does not follow a standard procedure and each university may value and emphasis a different skill. It appears therefore that if universities collaborate their knowledge and experience, they may be able to offer a more practical and beneficial soft skill-training program for undergraduates.


Act of Workers with ‘Soft Skills’ Demands a Shift in Teaching (2017). Retrieved from:
Allen, M., & Yen, W. (2002). Introduction to measurement theory. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. (Original work published 1979).
Bakar, A.R. & Hanafi, I. (2007). Assessing Employability Skills of Technical-Vocational Students in Malaysia. Social Sciences, 3(4), 202-207.
Bland, J.M., Altman, D.G. (1997). Statistics notes: Cronbach's alpha. BMJ.314(7080): 572.doi: 10.1136/bmj.314.7080.572.
Cronbach, L. J., & Shavelson, R. J. (2004). My current thoughts on coefficient alpha and successor procedures. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 37, 827-838.
Dunne, E., & Rawlins, M. (2000). Bridging the gap between industry and higher education: Training academics to promote student teamwork. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37(4), 361-371
Hairuzila Idrus, Hazadiah Mohd Dahan, Normah Abdullah. (2014). Integrating soft skills in the teaching of hard sciences at a private university: a preliminary study.
Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities. Volume 22, Special Issue, 17-32.
Hazmilah, Hasan (2008) Exploring Engineering Employability Competencies Through Interpersonal and Enterprise Skills. PhD thesis, Coventry University.
Idrus, Hairuzila (2013) Integration of soft skills in the teaching of technical courses: An exploratory study of a private university / Hairuzila Idrus. PhD thesis, Universiti Teknologi MARA.
Khairol Mohd Salleh, Nur Lisa Sulaiman, Khairul Nazry Talib. (2010). Globalisation’s Impact on Soft Skills Demand in the Malaysian Workforce and Organisations: What Makes graduates employable? Proceedings of the 1st UPI International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training Bandung, Indonesia, 10-11 November 2010
Krejcie, R.V. & Morgan, D.W. (1970). Determining sample size for research activities. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 30, 607-610.
Kvale, S. & Brinkmann, S. (2009). InterViews: learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Lee Fui Tong (2003). “Identifying essential learning skills in students’ engineering education, Monash University Malaysia. Retrieved from: http://surveys. / Y1111.Pdf
McLarty, R. (2000) Evaluating Graduate Skills in SMEs: the value chain impact, Journal of Management Development, 19, pp. 615-628.
Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia. (2006). Development of soft skills for Institutions of Higher Learning. Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Moss, P. & Tilly, C. (1996). Growing demand for “soft” skills in four industries: Evidence from in-depth employer interviews. (Working Paper No. 93). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Rahmah Ismail, Ishak Yussof and Lai Wei Sieng, 2011. Employers’ Perceptions on Graduates in Malaysian Services Sector. International Business Management, 5: 184-193.
Ramakrishnan, K. & Norizan Mohd Yasin. (2012). Employment issues among Malaysian information and communication technology (ICT) graduates: A case study. African Journal of Business Management 6(16), pp. 5615-5621.
Riam Chau Mai (2012). Developing Soft Skills in Malaysian Polytechnic: Students‟ perspectives of employers and students. Asian Journal of Management Sciences and Education, 1(2): 44- 51.
Roberto M. Fernandez, , Jason Greenberg, (2013), Race, Network Hiring, and Statistical Discrimination, in Steve Mcdonald (ed.) Networks, Work and Inequality Research in the Sociology of Work, Volume 24 Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.81 – 102
Roselina Shakir (2009). Soft skills at the Malaysian institutes of higher learning. Asia Pacific Education Review, 10(3), 309-315.
Shah, N. Z. (2008). Are graduates to be blamed? Unemployment of computer science graduates in Malaysia. Retrieved from, http:// 30
Shirley Ken Tzu Ting, Cheah Yeh Ying (2012). Is There a Gap between Practitioners’ and Academicians’ Perceptions on Business Graduates’ Competencies in Malaysia? Journal of Education and Vocational Research Vol. 3, No. 5, pp. 167-172.
Sidhu, J. S. (2011, Feb 12). The scramble for skills. The Star Online. Retrieved from: asp?file=/2011/2/12/business/8051679 31.
Singh, G. K. G., & Singh, S. K. G. (2008). Malaysian graduates employability skills. UNITAR E-Journal, 4(1), 15-45. 32.
Thanh Nguyen (2016), Employers lament lack of soft skills in graduates Issue No:397. Retrieved from:
Verney, T. P., Holoviak, S. J., & Winter, A. S. (2009). Enhancing the reliability of internship evaluations. Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 9(1), 22-33. 33.
White, Martha C. (2013), The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired. Retrieved from:
Woo, K. Y. (2006). Malaysian private higher education: A need to study the different interpretations of quality. Retrieved from:
Yasmin Mohd Adnan (2012). Importance of Soft Skills for Graduates in the Real Estate Programs. Malaysia.Journal of Surveying, Construction and Property.3(2).
Zaharim A., Md Yusoff Y., Omar M.Z., Mohamed A., Muhamad N., Mustapha R. (2009). Engineering Employability Skills Required By Employers In Asia. 6th WSEAS International Conference on Engineering Education (EE ’09), Rodos, Greece, (pp195 – 201).
How to Cite
David, M., & Saeipoor, N. (2018). Integrating Soft Skills into Courses in Malaysian Public Universities: (Undergraduates’ Perception). IARS’ International Research Journal, 8(1). Retrieved from