The unprecedented global event of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) struck in 2020, creating the worst downturn in Malaysian history since the last decline in 1998. The COVID-19 epidemic has not stopped at national borders only as it has also had a significant impact on higher education in most nations, with universities being forced to shift from physical class to open and distance learning (ODL). Global educational systems have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, leading to disruption in educational institutions all around the world.
An entire generation of students may be negatively affected by the pandemic’s cumulative impacts, particularly in terms of how students develop their soft skills. In addition, career opportunities for newly graduated candidates are challenging at present due to a multitude of variables, and the threat of COVID-19 is said to be among the reasons.
Soft skills play a vital part in a successful career, and fresh graduates with these skills are highly sought after by employers. Nowadays, the phrase “soft skill” is used as an umbrella that refers to a broad category of fundamental competencies that include life skills, social skills, aptitude skills, and attitude (Hyder et al., 2020).
Personality traits such as maintaining a cordial connection with people, being able to work in a team, and establishing and maintaining professionalism at the workplace are also included. Soft skills, in other words, are personal characteristics that enable a person to communicate effectively with others. Thus, this research emphasizes students’ perception regarding the importance of soft skills acquisition for their employability.
University is a place for students not only to gain knowledge but also to be exposed to activities in class that allow them to enhance their soft skills. However, as online education has grown in popularity, students have faced new problems in developing their soft skills. One of the issues is that online classes emphasize technical abilities while neglecting the professional skills
development of students to some extent (Pienaar et al., 2015).
While experts argue that incorporating cooperation into online classrooms might improve students’ teamwork, employers continue to hold unfavorable views of online classes, believing that students lack soft skills when compared to face-to-face classes (Biasutti, 2011). Therefore, this paper aims to study the development of soft skills among LG240 Semester 5 students at UiTM Shah Alam via online learning in order to determine if they possess the soft skills required by employers.