Gap analysis of Islamic finance education in Malaysia

It is well known that there is currently a shortage of human capital in Islamic finance. Evidently, the Islamic capital market was revealed to be the most affected sector with an identified shortage of 88%, followed by Takaful at 63% and banking at 50%. On the asset management side, the Thomson Reuters Global Islamic Asset Management Outlook 2015 highlighted that Islamic wealth management is expected to pick up speed in the Middle East and one of the challenges identified is the lack of talent development as well as market awareness. Therefore, in this issue I will elaborate on the gaps from the analysis of Islamic finance skills.

Table 1 shows the skills being acquired by Islamic finance students and the expectation level of practitioners on a scale of one to seven. Except for proficiency in the Malay language in which Islamic finance graduates excel, there are negative gaps in other skills such as interpersonal, computing, enterprise and entrepreneurial, communication, thinking, managerial and English and Arabic languages. The results indicate that the skills acquired by the graduates are not meeting the expectations of market requirements satisfactorily. However, these negative gaps are lower than one except for the English and Arabic languages with negative 1.07 and 1.1 respectively.

Table 1: Gap analysis of Islamic finance graduates — skills acquired and market required
No Skills Graduates acquired Market required Gap Level
1 Interpersonal 5.29 5.65 -0.36 Above average
2 Computing 5.16 5.49 -0.34 Above average
3 Enterprise and entrepreneurial 4.99 5.56 -0.57 Above average
4 Communication 5.26 5.75 -0.49 Above average
5 Thinking 5.19 5.77 -0.58 Above average
6 Managerial 5.3 5.82 -0.52 Above average
7 Malay language 6.48 6.13 0.35 Excellent
8 English language 5.11 6.17 -1.07 Above average
9 Arabic language 3.18 4.28 -1.1 Below average
10 All skills 5.14 5.6 -0.14 Above average
11 All skills (besides language) 5.23 5.65 -0.42 Above average
Source: Author’s own

The results indicate that Islamic finance graduates need to improve in enterprise and entrepreneurial skills, thinking skills and managerial skills where the gap is -0.57, -0.58 and -0.52 respectively. The findings also suggest that greater efforts are required to increase Islamic finance graduates’ proficiency in English and Arabic languages.

Overall, the skills analysis provides an important feedback that there is a shortfall of 0.14 between the levels of skills expected by the market compared to what Islamic finance graduates have acquired. Excluding the language gap, Islamic finance graduates are short by 0.42 in terms of the overall managerial, entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills. The fact that it is a managerial negative gap is also evidence that the present Islamic finance curriculum is appropriately designed. This implies that additional enhancements in the content and course delivery of Islamic finance programs would further improve the quality of Islamic finance graduates.

Dr Kamola Bayram is an assistant professor at KTO Karatay University, Turkey as well as a project consultant and advisor for project management at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected]