WITH Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the May 9 general election last year, the education landscape saw the merging of the Education Ministry, once the caretaker of school-level matters, with the Higher Education Ministry under the leadership of Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.
The merger is the platform for the planning, implementation and management of strategies and operations, from pre-school to higher education and lifelong learning in a continuum.
Diversity and education for all is the ministry’s mission as evidenced by the June 2018 intake at public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and public skills training institutions.
Out of the intake of 182,409 post-sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidates, 17,338 places were offered to those from the B40 group, 299 to the disabled, 348 to Orang Asli and 1,225 to sports athletes. The trend of offering education opportunities at the tertiary level is expected to continue.
The education Ministry also pledged to make technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as students’ first choice of studies in the next five years.
Maszlee said TVET empowers every level of society towards equitable development, poverty reduction and economic prosperity.
However, several issues must be addressed, including strengthening the governance of TVET for better management, harmonising rating systems across both private and public TVET institutions, and enhancing the quality and delivery of TVET programmes to improve graduates’ employability.
The Budget 2019 speech revealed that the Education Ministry received the lion’s share with an allocation of RM60.2 billion, emphasising the critical importance of education for the nation’s progress.
The 2019 budget made substantial allocations for scholarships including a RM2.1 billion boost to the MARA education scholarships Programme and RM17.5 million over the next five years to the Malaysia Professional Accountancy centre (MyPAC) to produce more qualified bumiputera accountants.
Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera received RM210 million for three of its programmes — Program Peneraju Tunas, Program Peneraju Skil (technical and vocational skills programmes) and Program Peneraju Professional (professional certifications in finance and accounting).
To ensure there are funds for those seeking to pursue tertiary studies, the national Higher Education Fund Corporation is reviewing its repayment mechanism.
Its chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the review is expected to take six months before it is presented to the Cabinet for approval. The entity is actively holding meetings with various parties including community leaders, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to obtain relevant information and input before the draft is prepared.
With the abolishment of section 15(2)(c) of the universities and university colleges Act 1971 last month, students have the freedom to take part in politics on campus. This will further expose undergraduates to the democratic system and foster active participation in the governance of the country. Starting this year, student unions will be set up to develop students’ ability to manage their affairs on campus and empower them to lead the nation.
Enhancing the quality of education
As an education hub, Malaysia is a popular destination for local and international students because of the quality of academic programmes provided by higher education institutions in the country which are accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).
MQA chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed said its accreditation is widely accepted in Asia, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom and Europe.
“We are recognised as a global brand. If a student graduates from a MQA-accredited programme in Malaysia or a Malaysian institution, they can work in any of these countries,” she added.
For this year, MQA plans to train qualifications officers from countries which require accreditation of programmes such as the Pacific Islands and those emerging from war as well as nations which do not have such agencies.
It will also introduce standards for micro-credentials. Micro-credentialing is the process of earning a micro-credential, which is like a mini degree or certification in a specific topic. To earn a microcredential, you need to complete a certain number of activities, assessments or projects related to the topic “We are looking at enabling individuals to earn credits from short courses organised by higher education institutions, accumulating those credits and ending up with a diploma or degree,” added Rahmah.
“In today’s environment, universities cannot work on their own but need to collaborate. If they subscribe to the same set of standards, a course offered by X University for example can be recognised by University Y.
“And University Y can then offer another set of courses to help students accumulate more credits.
“MQA is always looking for academic products that can contribute to the adult environment. Micro-credentials help students learn and earn on they go.”
Micro-cedentials can be offered by both public and private institutions as long as they subscribe to MQA standards.
“We are targeting to have the standards in place within the first quarter of this year followed by a roadshow. I foresee the implementation of micro-credentials will be rolled out six months later.”
The Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning – Qualification (APEL Q) is in the pipeline.
“APEL Q is still at the study stage. A person who has 20 years of work experience will sit a test and his portfolio will be assessed to determine an award of up to a master’s degree, without having to attend classes.”
MQA will conduct a pilot project after carrying out a feasibility study.
“When we roll it out, we will be the most advanced in Asia in terms of such qualifications.”
MQA believes there is a need to enhance the qualification of working adults without the need to be physically at university.
“We need to contribute to the advancement of the country and, to do this, we need to evolve and improve our stature in academics and education.
So, this is what MQA is striving for.”
Focus on skills
More often than not, SPM school-leavers who are not academically inclined are at a loss after getting their exam results.
Their results may not be up to mark to enable them to continue their studies at conventional higher education institutions and they may not even have an interest in academic pursuit. Without training and education, they may not have the skills for a bright future in the working world.
The Education Ministry’s Technical and Vocational Education Division encourages those who are not academically-inclined to pursue TVET as early as 16 years of age.
Division director Zainuren Mohd Nor sees 2019 as the year to strengthen and empower TVET.
The division runs three programmes: Kolej Vokasional (KV), Program Vokasional Menengah Atas (PVMA) and Perantisan Industri Menengah Atas (PIMA).
“The aim of KVs is to produce skilled workers who meet industry need or become entrepreneurs,” he said.
The aim is to get 70 per cent of its graduates employed, 20 per cent to continue studies and the remaining to become entrepreneurs.
“We have signed 775 memoranda of understanding for on-the-job training with the industry. We collaborate with the industry to produce students with skills required by the Industry Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0). We also partner with TVET colleges from, for example, Korea, China and Italy to gain exposure,” he added.
“Diploma Vokasional Malaysia graduates with a 3.5 CGPA can opt for higher studies. Or they can gain work experience and then opt for APEL Q.
“Budding entrepreneurs can enrol in the School Enterprise programme. They can set up their businesses during studies with the help of Companies Commission of Malaysia and relevant cooperatives.”
KV graduates are awarded the diploma as well as Malaysia Skills certificate. Some 96.7 per cent of the 2017 cohort are employed. As of Press time, the statistics for 2018 were unavailable.
As demand for places at vocational colleges is overwhelming, those who opt for TVET education can do so by joining the PVMA programme at day schools. They will be awarded two certificates — SPM and Malaysian Skills Certificate.
“They sit for only three SPM papers — Bahasa Malaysia, English and History — which qualify them to apply for places at vocational institutions.
They will also be awarded the Malaysia Skills Certificate Level 2 which certifies them as partially skilled and they can gain employment or become entrepreneurs.”
Last year, 269 schools ran PVMA programmes with an increase to 350 this year.“PIMA offers potential school dropouts a chance to learn and earn. They are in school for two days to learn SPM Bahasa Malaysia, English and History, and spend three days working in the industry. Some 116 schools were involved in 2018 while the number is increased to 200 this year.”
Students will be awarded a SPM certificate as well as a letter of testimony from employers.
The State Education Department and the District Education Office select the schools which carry out this programme subject to the availability of the industry in the vicinity of the school. Students, who are selected by school counsellors, get an allowance from the industry and will be monitored by it.
In the Sistem Latihan Dual Nasional programme, students learn at school for six months and attend industry training for another six months.
“I urge society to change its perception of TVET and encourage more industry players to partner with us to develop TVET.
“We want the industry to provide student placements, taking on a corporate social responsibility approach. The industry can provide facilities and equipment to ensure training is in line with IR4.0.
“Students too need to change their mindset from just being an employee to that of an entrepreneur.”
The allocation of RM17.5 million over the next five years to MyPAC will go towards its target to produce 600 Bumiputera professional accountants, said its chief executive officer Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan.
There are plans to boost Bumiputera education through sponsorship programmes, including collaborating with institutions which provide scholarships specifically for Bumiputeras, particularly students from B40 families, to pursue professional accountancy qualifications.
MyPAC was established in 2015, in collaboration with Yayasan Peneraju, to increase the number of certified Bumiputera accountants.
It aims to create the opportunity and provide the ecosystem for those with the capability and ambition to obtain a professional accountancy qualification.
Through the scholarship programmes, the number of graduates has risen from only two in 2015 to 141 last year, with 2,154 full-time scholars, and 2,654 current scholars.
Nor Dalina Abdullah, one of the earliest recipients of MyPAC scholarship, said she got to know of MyPAC in 2015, which allowed her to complete her ACCA examinations in the same year.
“The scholarship provided me with the means to continue my ACCA education. Its support was instrumental in my passing the examinations,” said Nor Dalina, who works as an analyst at Baker Hughes, a General Electric Company. Her role requires her to interact with her colleagues of different rank, including those in other countries.
“As a founding member of MyPAC Accountants Club, I hope to contribute back especially to MyPAC’s Outreach programme to inspire potential candidates in the fulfilling career as a professional accountant,” she added.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Shafiq Mohd Yusof, Muhammad Hakimie Mat Hat Hassan and Ahmad Fauzee Mohd Hassan attribute their success to Yayasan Peneraju’s three key thrusts—Peneraju Tunas, Peneraju Skil and Peneraju Profesional programmes.
Muhammad Shafiq, from a B40 family in Perak, pursued studies at a private university with aid from Yayasan Peneraju, and he works at a multinational corporation with an average salary of above RM5,000 a month. Muhammad Hakimie, from Terengganu, is trained and certified as a welder, with a salary of RM9,000 while Ahmad Fauzee, who is pursuing the ACCA qualification, ranked first in the world for a subject he took as part of the professional certification syllabus.
Yayasan Peneraju chief executive Raja Azura Raja Mahayuddin said a structured scholarship and development programme allows individuals to further studies without financial worries.
“Yayasan Peneraju is thankful for the government’s trust in its efforts in empowering the education of youth especially those from lower income households.
“We are committed to strengthening the Bumiputera community in response to the government’s call to sustain and empower education and human capital.”
As at December 2018, the foundation has helped 23,000 people benefit from education, TVET training (and employment) and professional certification funding and development programmes.
With an allocation of RM210 million under the 2019 Budget, the foundation will be offering more than 7,000 new opportunities this year, including focus of existing programmes on certifications in technology-related fields, professional accreditation programmes for accounting and finance, and a new initiative — Khaira Ummah — for those from religious and tahfiz schools.
There is also the Super High-Income Programme to increase the number of Bumiputeras who earn a monthly income of RM20,000 in specialised and niche fields.
The foundation will focus on target groups — 1,500 youths from challenging socio-economic background with average-to-excellent academic results (Peneraju Tunas); 4,000 dropouts, non-academically-inclined, unemployed youths and low skilled/semi-skilled workforce (Peneraju Skil); as well as 1,600 new and existing workforce including SPM and university graduates, who are aspiring to be specialists (Peneraju Profesional).
Out of the 1,600, it will groom 1,000 professional accountants, chartered financial analysts and financial risk managers annually.
A new programme, Peneraju Tunas Kendiri, which provides opportunities for the disabled, will be introduced this year.
Khaira Ummah will start with two programmes — Huffaz Pintar (SPM fast track) and Huffaz Skil.
“We want to open up career pathways to these group of students through academic courses and technical and vocational education or even to those who aspire to be professionals.”
The Health Ministry has an allocation of RM250 million worth of scholarships for medical doctors, paramedics (including medical assistants), nurses and medical students.
Some 40 per cent RM100 million) is allocated for 1,100 doctors per year (compared to 1,000 in the previous years) to pursue master’s degree in various disciplines.
The ministry spokesperson said about 12,000 medical college students will attend basic paramedic courses and 9,000 nurses will continue post-basic nursing programmes.
There are a variety of master’s degree programmes in medicine and health, including Science/Clinical, Research, Education and Public Health at local universities.
In Malaysia, a master’s degree in medicine and healthcare is a stepping stone to a career in medicine (as a doctor) or an alternative career in another aspect of the field.
Looking forward, Raja Azura applauded the government’s efforts in equipping the nation’s future generations with quality education.
The challenge is keeping up with technological advancements and embracing IR4.0 so as not to be left behind.
“Employers’ expectations of employees have moved towards technology-savvy communication skills, which in turn, require tertiary institutions to impart such abilities to students.
“I am hopeful that the higher education can prepare future generations to face IR4.0, which will impact all economies, industries and society at its core.
“It may very well challenge fundamental ideas about what it means to be human as it is slowly blurring the line between the physical, digital and biological, and changing the way we interact with emerging digital technology such as artificial intelligence, analytics and the Internet of Things.”
Raja Azura lauds the spirit of learnability and resilience.
“This is the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt to remain relevant as people who are willing to learn will be agile and are versatile. They will also rank higher on the employability scale in today’s dynamic world.”
Zaiton of MyPAC hopes universities will encourage Bachelor in Accountancy graduates to pursue professional accountancy qualifications as they are only required to pass four ACCA papers, for example.
1) What’s the point that the programs are accredited by MQA, recognised by many countries in the world but many of the local graduates are unemployed, mainly due to poor command of English language & the syllabus is so out of date and not relevant to the industry (same problem with TVET education system as well, most TVET institutions don’t produce graduates that matches the industry’s needs)
2) Introducing micro-credentials in the academic world is a great idea, it’s similar to TVET’s system where students/candidates can just go for certain Competency Units (CU) and upon obtaining all CU in that particular program, they can be awarded a Malaysian Skill Certificate (MSC) or more well known as Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM)
3) Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning – Qualification (APEL Q) is another great system that allows experienced workers that didn’t go through formal education to obtain their Diploma, Degree, Masters or even PhD. However, devils is in the details. It maybe subject to manipulation by certain parties for quick & easy profit.
APEL Q is just like Pengiktirafan Pencapaian Terdahulu (PPT) in our TVET context. Unfortunately, I’ve received feedbacks on how some of these candidates (with the help of CONnsultants created fake evidences & managed to obtain their SKM certificate via the PPT method.
Besides that, can you imagine someone that has >10 SKM qualifications under his/her belt? And it can be so diverse from each other, eg having SKM in aesthetic, hairdressing, massage, aromatherapy, make-up (this group can be quite related to each other) AND culinary, office management and GOD knows what else!
Last heard the Department of Skill Development (DSD or better known as JPK) is checking on this & will take action. Haizz, always after nasi sudah jadi bubur.
4) Diploma Vokasional Malaysia graduates with a 3.5 CGPA can opt for higher studies
– What about Diploma Kemahiran Malaysia (DKM) & Diploma Lanjutan Kemahiran Malaysia (DLKM) graduates from the TVET stream? My understanding is that thus far, only graduates from selected programs like engineering based programs can further study to selected public local higher institutions (IPTA) which are collectively known as MTUN (Malaysian Technical University Network)
5) With the increase of more & more PVMA, private TVET providers are advised not to run the same program as these PVMA’s, especially if you’re tartgeting the same group of students (mainly the B40). Many private TVET providers are already crying for help due to lower number of students registration from this group of students, coupled with the dwindling funding/financing by Perbadanan Tabung Pembangunan Kemahiran (PTPK)
PETALING JAYA: There are new challenges in the labour market which would require talents who are not necessarily good academically, says an economist.
But Fatimah Kari of Universiti Malaya said Malaysian employers were still heavily dependent on paper qualifications in the recruitment process.
She said many failed to exploit talents and skills among students who don’t perform well academically.
This emphasis on grades has led to a cycle of economic and educational inequality.
“If the kids get higher grades, they’ll have more access to tertiary education opportunities,” she told FMT in a recent interview, adding however that those in rural and indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak were still left behind.
Fatimah said she supported recent calls for reforms of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), long considered an alternative stream for students who do not perform well academically.
Fatimah said a factor in ensuring economic equality in the country was access and affordability of education.
She said rich parents could provide better opportunities for their children.
Citing a government-funded study on rural education conducted in Kemaman, Terengganu, Fatimah said it was found that children in rural areas have their own unique talents that the present labour market fails to exploit.
“Yet, they are the same students who are not going to make it in SPM examinations. I don’t think they would be able to get the A’s and B’s that the existing system prizes so much,” she said.
“Eventually, these children will be another generation which will fall below the poverty line, within poor families, and the inequality in our country will just continue.”
Fatimah acknowledged that there is an emerging trend where companies are becoming more flexible when in evaluating one’s skills.
She said future jobs would be very different.
“We are hoping these changes will narrow the inequality gap,” she said.
She urged the government to set up mechanisms to encourage the trend, saying TVET could be excellent in narrowing the gap.
She said TVET should take into account the inequality and differences in education that were dependent on variables such as parent affordability and access to institutions.
“But having TVET by itself and expecting it to function on its own is not going to work either,” she added.
Fatimah said TVET should not be seen as a “last resort” option for those who are academically poor.
Instead, it should be placed on par with other lines of education.
She said one shortcoming of TVET is the limited accessibility to training centres.
“It is very difficult for poor families because the location of where they can go for TVET is very far away.”
Considering the current target being poor families with limited transportation, most people cannot afford the long travel or accommodation, she said.
“Then, we will be back to the cycle where education is only for those who can afford it,” she said.
Fatimah suggested that TVET be offered in conventional schools, as the facilities were already in place.
“What’s wrong with that?” she asked.
“You don’t need to build another huge infrastructure, because a school has all the infrastructure they would need. It has the staff, teachers, halls and labs. All that is left to do is to offer the appropriate syllabus,” she said.
Fatimah does not agree with having a standard syllabus across all facilities, but instead recommended localising the syllabus to reflect the economic activities.
“The profile of the local economy must be reflected in the TVET syllabus offered in the training centres,” she said.
Giving an example of Semporna in Sabah, which is famous for its tourism industry, she said the TVET offered in a centre there should consist of skills related to tourism and hospitality.
He said TVET students would then be guaranteed a job that suits the local economy.
KUALA LUMPUR: Penyedia perkhidmatan teknologi maklumat (IT), telekomunikasi/Internet dan industri minyak dan gas (O&G) masing-masing mencatat pertumbuhan kukuh sebanyak 35 peratus dan 16 peratus dalam tempoh enam bulan lalu dari segi pengambilan pekerja secara dalam talian.
Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Monster.Com bagi Asia-Pasifik dan Timur Tengah, Abhijeet Mukherjee, berkata berdasarkan Indeks Pekerjaan Monster, sektor perkhidmatan pelanggan mencatatkan pertumbuhan enam peratus tahun ke tahun dalam pengambilan, diikuti perisian, perkakasan, profesional telekomukasi, yang menambah tiga peratus.
Bagaimanapun, sektor lain seperti perbankan, perkhidmatan kewangan dan industri insurans (BFSI) mencatatkan penurunan 12 peratus, manakala permintaan untuk profesional jualan dan pembangunan perniagaan turut merosot pada asas 10 peratus tahun ke tahun pada November.
Pengambilan secara dalam talian dalam industri BFSI di Malaysia mengalami penurunan selama 11 bulan sejak awal tahun ini.
“Menurut firma penyelidikan, ketidaktentuan dasar makro selepas pilihan raya mewujudkan kelembapan kesan terhadap pertumbuhan sektor perbankan, dan penganalisis turut menjangkakan pertumbuhan pendapatan teras juga rendah tahun ini.
“Sektor kewangan yang sebelum ini didorong oleh keputusan manusia dan pembuat keputusan, kini semakin berubah, susulan kemunculan teknologi baharu, khususnya automasi pintar,” katanya.
Beliau berkata bank perlu memberi tumpuan dengan mengambil pekerja yang pakar dalam teknologi tertentu.
“Membangunkan strategi bakat yang menangani latihan semula secara menyeluruh, mengenal pasti kemahiran dan kepakaran yang diperlukan untuk bersaing pada masa depan, selain menarik, mengekalkan bakat yang tepat sangat penting dalam sektor ini,” katanya.
Komen: Bidang IT ni agak meluas, jadi sebelum anda menawarkan program TVET/kursus vokasional bidang IT, kajilah dulu keperluan industri. Begitu juga dengan bidang O&G.
PETALING JAYA: Leaders of Malaysian industries are working with the government to develop a skills standard and syllabus that are of international quality, says Department of Skills Development director-general Nidzam Kamarulzaman.
These industry players, known as Industry Lead Bodies (ILB), want to help ensure Malaysia’s TVET is on par with developed nations like Australia and Canada, he said.
“In the next two years, over 30 major TVET (Technical and Vocational Education Training) ILBs will come together to create their own skills standards based on the practices of developed countries,” he said.
He said they would work together to capitalise on their strengths as leading companies in their respective fields, and come up with a syllabus for TVET training centres under the skills department.
“They assist the government departments in doing so because they are the experts, they would know better,” he said in an interview.
Some of the companies involved, according to Nidzam, are Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association and the Malaysian Association of Hotels.
Nidzam also urged local industries to play a bigger role.
“Come forward to assist the government to overcome prevalent mismatches in skills gap. There is only so much we can do ourselves,” he said.
Since TVET training institutes serve to provide skilled manpower as required by the industry, the industry players should thus visit these institutes and identify the problems, and then work on it with the government.
“They can contribute their expertise and resources, such as sharing equipment and keeping institutes updated on what is relevant to their current needs, rather than having centres blindly churn out graduates, leading to duplication of programmes, oversupply of graduates and mismatch in skills, among other problems.
“This way, we work towards producing graduates according to market needs,” he said.
Nidzam said training agencies under the skills department that prescribe to the System Persijilan Kemahiran Malaysia (SPKM) are guided by industry-set standards known as the National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS).
The SPKM oversees the accreditation and certification of skills training institutes.
He said NOSS is regularly reviewed by the skills department, based on technological changes.
Some of the agencies involved include Institut Latihan Perindustrian, Giat Mara, Federation of JPK Accredited Centres and Institut Kemahiran Tinggi Belia Negara.
INDUSTRIES should work together with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, such as polytechnics, community colleges and vocational schools, to build a new education system.
In a dialogue entitled “Building a brighter talent through TVET”, speakers from the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), MMC Corporation Bhd, Malaysian Federation Employers (MEF), International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and Polytechnic and Community College Education Department (DPCCE) of the Education Ministry concurred that expanding public-private partnerships is crucial in creating a pathway for students to take up TVET courses.
The industry’s role is to provide apprenticeship, while TVET institutions concentrate on teaching and training.
MRCA deputy secretary-general Datuk Bruce Lim Aun Choong said the retail industry should focus on the digital economy and invest in people and technology.
“The success stories are always in startups, which promote entrepreneurship and increase employment. In this new digital economy, TVET graduates can make money if they have the entrepreneur’s mindset.
“For example, they can go into franchising or the food truck business. If two hours of selling food and beverages can generate income, that is good enough.
“They can take pride in ownership and encourage more graduates to join them, thus creating job opportunities.”
He said with around half a million companies in the country, there were lots of job opportunities for fresh TVET graduates.
“I think the retail industry is the best fit. Now is the best time for graduates to join the industry.
“We don’t want anyone who is only capable of serving coffee at the workplace, or a researcher with a PhD, but we need someone with skills to do more than those.”
Instead of blaming polytechnics and community colleges for failure to produce enough TVET graduates, Lim suggested finding ways to get companies to change that mindset.
“If only industry players have the ability to look for ways to grow, then the retail industry would not need to hire foreign workers,” he said.
MMC Corporation Group chief financial officer Mohd Shahar Yope said collaboration between the industry and TVET institutions were important because they ensured a constant supply of manpower.
“At MMC, for example, we help TVET students join the industry. In Johor, we contribute machines to Politeknik Ibrahim Sultan. Students learn how to operate them so that once they graduate, they are familiar with the technology.
“We should also do away with the perception that TVET graduates are just ‘second’ choice compared with their university counterparts.
“For us, TVET graduates are skilled workers entrusted to manage and operate machinery worth millions of ringgit. In fact, with their know-how, they can work anywhere.”
Shahar said it was high time for TVET graduates to be accorded the recognition they deserved, so top school leavers would be encouraged to pursue a TVET education.
Meanwhile, MEF council member Zulkifly Abdul Rahman asked how the industry could mould its future talent.
“Which TVET institution will assist us? How do we create the value in terms of competency? The federation can update TVET institutions with the latest industry demand.
“Many companies already have interns. We understand the budget limitations, but if necessary, these companies can share the cost of training trainees.”
Zulkifly said TVET graduates deserved good wages as other graduates.
“The industry needs to review their salary and start profiling trainees on what they want. These will motivate them to come to work as they enjoy doing what they do.
“Another important thing that TVET graduates need to have is communication skills as they need to present themselves well.”
IBM Client Innovation Centre manager Mohamad Asri Ahmad said information technology companies needed employees who could design, think and deliver, and not just troubleshoot when computers break down.
He said up-scaling TVET education was an essential preparation for Industry 4.0.
“It is all about transforming the TVET system and making it the first choice among school leavers.”
DPCEE senior director (academic) Zainab Ahmad said it was time to change the perception on TVET education.
“We want to introduce the culture of research and development to the younger generation, and this is what we need to embrace,” she said.
“Our door is always open for any collaboration and partnership that you want to extend to us. All institutions, including polytechnics and community colleges, need to reach out to the industry.
“We should keep the networking growing, more so with the help of the alumni. We have many graduates venturing into businesses and they have become job creators for their juniors,” said Zainab.
Themed “Living Skills in the 21st Century: TVET Empowerment”, the National Industry Dialogue 2018, held recently at Putrajaya International Convention Centre, was launched by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.
Present was DPCCE director-general Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Ismail Abd Aziz.
Maszlee said TVET education played a huge role in the development of a highly skilled workforce.
He said the government must strive to provide education and training that were in line with global standards.
All this, he said, was to ensure that young Malaysians could find fulfilling jobs and remain competitive.
“The ministry has started the crucial work of creating clear articulation for TVET education in secondary schools, polytechnics and technical universities.
“This is to ensure that students can further their studies in TVET education, or they can work first and return to upgrade themselves later.”
Maszlee said the government planned to conduct a major mapping exercise to ensure that TVET programmes met standards set by the industry and accreditation bodies.
“Most importantly, we are keen to create more smart partnerships and develop stronger platforms for industrial collaborations, including public-private partnerships to ensure the sharing of knowledge, facilities and technology.”
TVET programmes in the country are offered at certificate, diploma and degree levels by seven ministries. There are 36 polytechnics and 102 community colleges nationwide.
THERE is something that ails in the way we deliver our technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Experts say that for a country to be a developed nation, it must arm its human capital with the skills that are needed by industry. But TVET seems to be less loved than it should be.
According to Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) The School-to-Work Transition of Young Malaysians (SWTS) survey, only 13 per cent signed up for the pathway. At the polytechnics stage, TVET kindles even less love: the take-up rate was only nine per cent. A majority—68 per cent who pursued post-secondary school education — found TVET to be not an education pathway of choice.
There are reasons aplenty for our young ones to feel this way. Firstly, TVET graduates are not recognised as professionals. This has a huge impact on the graduates’ future: they are not able to command as good a salary as their academically-inclined former schoolmates do.
While employers are quick to complain about our graduates not being skilled, they rather employ foreign workers who understandably settle for less pay. Not out of choice, though. They are less expensive because the perks that our local workers will rightfully demand are mostly denied them. Non-governmental organisations and media reports have often highlighted their laments.
TVET grads also have little to no access to higher education institutions should they decide to pursue post-TVET education. There is also a national prejudice that crosses ethnic lines: TVET is seen as the last choice for people who have no academic qualifications. Only one per cent of all Chinese and four per cent of Indian secondary students found TVET worth pursuing.
As for Bumiputeras, the take-up rate was 15 per cent. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will prove this prejudice wrong, but 4IR seems to be slow in arriving at our shores. Also, the prejudice is too deep-seated for it to vanish as quickly as we would wish it to.
But Malaysia is not without a cure, as KRI suggests in its SWTS. As expected, Germany points the way with its dual training system. KRI puts it thus: “The dual system is highly recognised worldwide due to its combination of theory and practice embedded in a real-life work environment, enabling young people to make the transition from the world of education to the world of work.” The dual system is no accident; a lot of thought and planning has gone into making it work. It is often touted as a panacea for youth unemployment. We must do the same to make TVET an education path of choice for our youth. Mere tweaking of the existing system will just result in a fillip for TVET; what it requires is salvation. According to one estimate, there are close to 1,000 providers of technical and vocational training and education, and many of them are facing issues of financing and recognition. If Malaysia paid enough attention to governance, quality and industry partnership as Germany does, our TVET may just be the path of choice for our youth.
Report finds there’s a need to focus on soft skills and the ability of students to learn new skills
TODAY’S youths represent the country’s best educated generation, yet they face many challenges transitioning from school-to-work.
Launched on Wednesday, the Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) “school-to-work transition survey” (SWTS) found that education and training institutions aren’t producing graduates employers want.
Bosses prefer soft skills and work experience above academic or professional qualifications that are emphasised by schools and varsities. And, the supply of young workers with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) qualifications, is far short of employer demands.
There’s a need to focus on soft skills and the ability of students to learn new skills, she said.
“There must be more work-based learning,” she said, adding that to promote STEM, policy makers could make these subjects more attractive and widely available to students from a young age; equip and train teachers well; and integrate STEM with Arts subjects (STEAM) to enhance student understanding and application of the sciences.
From the end of 2017 to early this year, education and labour market information on Malaysians aged between 15 and 29 was collected from some 24,000 students, job seekers, workers, and employers.
Here’s an excerpt of the SWTS report on youths in upper secondary and tertiary education.
STEM isn’t popular
TVET is not a popular education pathway, and neither is STEM. Only a third of all upper secondary students are taking science subjects and another 44% additional mathematics, and only 32% of all tertiary students are enrolled for STEM courses. Although girls greatly outnumbered boys in tertiary education, a higher proportion of total males than total females are registered for STEM subjects. The proportion of students taking STEM subjects is the highest for international and private schools. Surprisingly, the proportion of students in religious schools enrolled in science subjects and additional maths is higher than students of other national schools. Two-fifths of tertiary students are working towards degrees in social sciences, business, or law.
Students choose their own courses
Contrary to common perception that courses students take up is decided upon by their parents or school, some 80% say they make their own choices. But almost all receive advice on the education or training they need to get a ‘good job’.
Aspirations and job expectations
Girls are more driven than boys. They give greater importance to a clear career path, with good promotion prospects and success at work. Boys value good family life more. The main sector students prefer is education. The girls, especially, prefer professional occupations like teachers, engineers, and medical and health professionals. Few want to do the work of their parents, namely, in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing. It’s more important to the boys to have interesting jobs and high income. They’re less concerned about job security.
All students prioritise professional qualifications. Upper secondary students are aware of the importance of TVET but would rather pursue academic education. They also identify communication skills as the most important competency for getting a job. They expect greater opportunities because of the Internet of Things (IoT). The majority want to further their education or training, with girls being more academically inclined.
Youth in tertiary education
There are 15% more girls than boys in upper secondary education. The gender imbalance increases in the transition from upper secondary to tertiary level. The growing cohort of boys who either leave school early or with low education attainment, is worrying. Almost half of all students are in private tertiary institutions. Their main funding sources are loans and their parents.
There’s a clear generational improvement in educational levels. Their preferred employment sectors are education, finance and insurance, health and social work, and IT-related work. Job preferences shift between upper secondary and tertiary level of education. Tertiary students aren’t as keen on public sector work and have a higher preference of starting their own business compared to upper secondary youth. The most likely reason is that young men and women tend to have clearer choices linked to their field of study in higher education and would be more aware of labour market opportunities.
Work-life balance is the most important characteristic of a job they would want. The job must be interesting, not just secure. And to get a good job, they do not consider tertiary academic qualifications adequate. They rate communication skills and creative and
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — The technical and vocational education training (TVET) programme requires an urgent update to arm graduates with the required skills for employment, the National Association of Skilled Workers (PKPB) said today.
Its secretary-general Mohammad Rizan Hassan, in responding to a survey that found government vocational programme undervalued both by students and parents, said the current TVET programmes lagged far behind.
“Students are studying ‘history in technology’ instead of the latest technology,” he said in a statement.
“This is because the training given at vocational institutions (ILK) are still based on old technology.”
Yesterday, Khazanah Research Institute released its school-to-work transition survey (SWTS) that found TVET to be undervalued despite the strong demand for vocational and technical graduates both in the private and public sectors.
Data gathered by the survey showed a prevalent misconception about TVET being an inferior educational pathway, and that its graduates continue to be underpaid even in the civil service, data that strongly pointed to disconnect policies.
PKPB, on the other hand, said the perception that TVET graduates get quick employment is inaccurate.
Mohammad said TVET graduates are forced to compete for skilled jobs with upskilled migrant workers, which drives salaries lower.
“They are also affected by the influx of migrant workers,” he said.
“In the end, their pay is ultimately hurt,” he added.
The SWTS, held between late 2017 to earlier this year, polled over 27,000 students, job seekers, young workers and employers.
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Malaysia-based multinational companies offer the lowest starting salaries, a far cry from that offered by the civil service, a survey conducted by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) found.
Salary data compiled for the School To Work Transition Survey (SWTS) showed that the maximum median income offered by multinationals to a postgraduate is RM1,250, a meagre sum when put next to popular views about the kind of pay expected from foreign companies.
The quantum is similar to that offered to undergraduates or those with, a qualification considered to be inferior to university degrees, KRI said.
That is over RM4,000 less than the starting pay offered by the civil service or government agencies and RM600 less by public-listed companies.
The SWTS also found that even the starting salary offered by small family-run enterprises was higher, at RM450 more.
This may partially explain why civil service jobs are the main choice for employment for most young job seekers, KRI said in its report that aims to give policymakers, employers and job seekers a better picture of the labour market.
“Public sector agencies offer the highest salaries for each educational level — this would partly explain why it is the preferred employment sector for young people,” the report said.
The finding, which KRI described as “unexpected”, underscores the deeper structural problem beleaguering the job market today.
Supply of graduates now far exceeds demand and employers continue their preference for cheap labour as skills and requirements are mostly mismatched thanks to an education policy that over-emphasises paper qualifications.
This problem is best captured in the large salary gap offered to fresh job seekers with different sets of skills within the civil service itself, namely in the low pay offered to applicants with TVET qualifications, skills heavily promoted as useful even by the government.
The SWTS showed that TVET graduates are paid RM3,000 less than those with a degree and just RM500 more than for school leavers, who tend to take up most of the low-skilled manual jobs.
Despite publicity promoting vocational training as a gateway to good jobs, TVET qualification is still seen as inferior and better-suited for low-paying jobs.
KRI noted parents or students continue to shun vocational training, only to learn later that most employers value TVET skills today. Only 13 per cent of all upper secondary students are pursuing technical or vocational courses at the secondary level, and just 9 per cent at polytechnics.
“It has often been noted that students and their parents regard TVET as an inferior educational pathway, ‘dead end’ and for the academically challenged,” the report said.
“But, in fact, the SWTS found that both young job seekers and young workers consider TVET as the most useful qualification for getting a good job the salary differential could be an important reason.”
Demand for TVET graduates is proportionally high in the private sector among sole proprietors, private limited companies and particularly private contractors, the SWTS showed.
Even for low-skilled or manual jobs, public listed companies and the civil service indicated a preference for TVET graduates.
Yet only government agencies have offered TVET graduates the highest starting pay, at a median maximum of RM4,052 followed by private contractors at RM1,700.
The difference in salaries offered in other enterprises categorised in the report — private limited companies, family business, sole proprietorship, public listed and multinational companies — are more or less around the RM200 median average.
All this points to a disconnect and skewed labour market that is overcrowded with job seekers who mostly have skills that are low in demand, resulting in high graduate unemployment, KRI said.
“The shortage is not in terms of numbers but mismatch is evident employers rate soft skills and work experience above the academic and professional qualifications that are emphasised by Malaysian education and training institutions,” the report noted.
The SWTS, conducted at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, was intended to collect education and labour market information on youth, defined as ages between 15 to 29.
The survey was based on five structured, mainly pre-coded questionnaires targeting youth in upper secondary schools, in tertiary education, young job seekers, young workers and employers.