Dr Ummi Salwa Ahmad Bustamam
Dr Ummi Salwa Ahmad BustamamDirector of Centre of Student Entrepreneurship Development

Industry has assisted in conducting activities
There are many activities that have been successfully conducted under the cooperation between USIM and the industry. For instance, Hands-On Programme of Entrepreneurship (HOPE), which is a university synergy with seven industrial partners who are also acting as mentors, led by the Perfect Triangle Company.

HOPE is a uniquely structured entrepreneurship programme,, to increase the students’ marketability in the industry. It is holistic, comprehensive and designed by the entrepreneurs themselves in which, business world has been their bread and butter. Some entrepreneurs have experience of more than 10 years in the industry. Therefore, the theoretical and practical inputs are mostly contributed by them, as industrial players, with the help from industrial leaders, academicians and human resource experts.

USIM has started offering such programme to the first year student of 2015/2016 academic session intake and this programme is well accepted by the students. Up to the date of this writing, it is reported that 468 students are registered under this programme. HOPE is a 6-hours credited curriculum and students’ achievement is measured by an industrial-based system. 12 criteria of Key Result Area (KRA) and 8 criteria of Behaviourial Competencies (BC) are simultaneously measured throughout the programme. On the assessment, HOPE emphasizes 80% aspect of practical and the rest is on the theoretical.

The implementation of HOPE in USIM is aimed at achieving these four objectives. First, it is to train students to be entrepreneurs as highlighted by the Blueprint of Malaysian Higher Education 2015-2025. Next, it is also hoped that students can be revealed and exposed with necessary experience in the industry. Third, it is to rebrand the image of ‘graduand’ after their graduation in the future as they have proven themselves that they have undergone some sort of industrial training during their studies. Lastly, it is aimed that through this programme, students’ human capital is to be enhanced and increased in order to face the ever challenging career world outside the campus.

The benefits of HOPE
HOPE has been very beneficial to students in many ways. Firstly, since the programme is very interactive, the students get to learn the skills in real business setting. They learn the hands-on skills of business, talk to the mentors to solve issues and present their business strategy. Secondly, students gain a lot of experience in handling and managing their own business from scratch. They need to do documentation, marketing and financial management on their own. They are challenged to make important decisions of their business although they are still young. They also gain experience in owning their own business, and receive the right guidance for their business.

Besides that, students can gain income from their business. There are students who passively gain RM 2,000.00 of monthly income through their online business. The best thing about this programme is, the students will get to be in touch with their respective mentors even after long graduating from the university. They are opened to the opportunity to expand their business through a number of support system, agencies and corporations available. At the end of the programme, each student will be given a certificate as an acknowledgement of their participation in this programme and this certificate will be definitely priceless when they apply for job after graduating.

HOPE is indeed a great initiative from USIM to produce high quality graduands who are able generate their own income. It is hoped that such programme can help in reducing the number of unemployed in Malaysia. Graduands with HOPE background will be identified not only as ex-USIM students per se, but they are also young entrepreneurs, through this six-semesters of entrepreneurship programme.

In order to increase students’ marketability and credibility, the relation between industry and higher learning institution is very much crucial. It is hoped that this synergy will be continued in the future and such programme will significantly benefit the students.

The increase of unemployment has been at an alarming rate and a major problem of the nation since past decades. According to an annual report released by Bank Negara, a number of 405,000 Malaysians are unemployed, in which 15.3% of them surprisingly are college and university graduands. The report has reiterated the research conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education that in 2015 alone, 53% from 273,373 youths are still jobless after six months of graduating from colleges and universities. It is also estimated that this figure keeps rising each year due to the increase number of graduands.

One of the factors that lead to unemployment is the lack of industrial skills among graduands. Therefore, the Ministry of Higher Education, strongly encourages active involvement from the industry through synergy and joint venture with higher education institutions in providing trainings to students. It is also reported that less than 10% industry has been involved in developing the necessary curriculum with the university.

In this case, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) has taken extra initiative to be actively involved with the industry in order to produce graduands who are well rounded and equipped with entrepreneurship skills.