INCHEON: Korean polytechnics are looking forward to work with Malaysia to further develop technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
Korea Polytechnics Education and Training Bureau director-general Cho Sung Hwan said they were ready to help establish TVET schools in Malaysia or develop the system in line with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), among others.
“We hope that we can offer more assistance to your country,” he told the New Straits Times during a visit to the Korean Polytechnics Incheon campus here.
The visit was part of a one-day internship programme under the 2019 Kwanhun-KPF Press Fellowship in Seoul.
The NST had been selected to represent Malaysia in the month-long fellowship this year.
Journalists from Brunei, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Mongolia, the Philippines and Vietnam also participated in the programme.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had often stressed that TVET must be a top national priority.
He had also said that TVET was a game changer in the government’s efforts to produce a more highly-skilled local workforce.
Elaborating, Korean Polytechnics Industrial Partnership Department director/professor Ahn Jongbok said: “We are always ready to help Malaysia”.
He said they organised annual international technology volunteer programmes where their students would visit Malaysian colleges to share Korea’s technical skills.
He added that they were also looking into developing language exchange programmes between the two countries.
“It is good if we can be of help to your country to further develop TVET,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cho said to change the perception that TVET was associated with “low pay and dirty work”, the Korean polytechnics had been focusing more on IR4.0 compared to fundamental industries like they did in the 1960s.
In the past five decades, Korean polytechnics have trained over 66,000 students, promising an 85.8 per cent employment rate upon graduation.
They have 35 campuses throughout South Korea along with a high school and two training centres.
Besides Malaysia, it also has a network with other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
It has also worked with France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
After the recent announcement of Malaysia’s Budget 2020, Dato’ Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, Chairman, Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) has thanked the Federal Government for the budget allocation of RM50 million to the Fund.
“This allocation will empower the Fund to continue its mandate to catalyse the development of a competent local workforce, contributing to the Government’s aspiration to drive growth and equitable outcomes towards shared prosperity,” she said.
She has provided details on how HRDF plans to fulfil this mandate. “With an allocated budget of RM30 million for TVET, the Fund aims to reduce the country’s unemployment rate which currently stands at 3.3%.”
As such, HRDF will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Human Resources, industry players and employers to provide TVET training programmes catered to employ 3,000 youths from low-income households.
The targeted B40 youths will be trained in courses with fast employability rate such as escalator and elevator service and maintenance; housekeeping operation; retail operation; commercial driver training and certification programme; and professional certificate in logistics and supply chain operations.
The Fund will also match the Government’s allocation of RM20 million with an additional RM20 million towards upskilling a further 4,000 Malaysians through professional certification examinations related to IR4.0.
These certifications are aligned to the main pillars of IR4.0, such as internet of things; cybersecurity; big data; and cloud computing. For these, the Fund will collaborate with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
She added: “With the 2020 budget allocation by the Government to the Fund, it will continue its role in supporting the nation’s human capital development towards reducing skills and economic gaps; promote the employability and mobility of Malaysian talent; and encourage job creation and inclusivity for prosperity.”
The Manpower Department under MOHR signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) during the 2019 China-ASEAN Vocational Education Exhibition and Forum.
The MoU will be a concrete platform for both countries to share knowledge and expertise through the exchange programmes. Considering China’s rapid advancement particularly in IR4.0 technologies, Malaysia hope to learn and tap on China’s technologies; especially in areas which China has distinct advantages.
Minister of Human Resources M Kula Segaran who was present explained that one major challenge was meeting the requirement of new technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), as well as embedding the TVET curriculum with soft skills relevant to IR4.0. The Ministry aspires to train the future skilled workforce that are competent in technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4).
Some of the key technologies that are frequently associated with IR4 are Artificial Intelligence (A.I), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), and additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Considering China’s rapid advancement particularly in IR4 technologies, it makes sense for Malaysia to learn from China in some of the areas that China has a distinct advantage.
Underlining the importance of International collaboration, the Minister also said ASEAN and China could work together to uplift the standard and quality of TVET education through the sharing of best practices, expertise, knowledge and joint research.
Even within ASEAN, we should come up with a common standard as a regional benchmark to harmonise TVET education.
He said MoHR puts a strong emphasis on the importance of international cooperation in TVET either at bilateral or multilateral levels. We recognize the importance of having China as a strategic partner in TVET.
The ministry also values the engagement and support of all the key stakeholders for making TVET a success story that will yield great benefits for Malaysia and any international collaborators.
Prepared by: Ministry of Human Resources 25 September 2019
Comment: It’s not only the Germans or Americans that we learn IR4.0 from, advanced Asian countries like Japan & China are equally strong in these areas. It’s good that our country is open to collaborate with any countries that are more advanced than us in these areas.
FOR too long, HR experts around the world have been debating what to do about the pressing skills gap issue.
We are now at a stage where our HR profession needs to take the lead before this issue becomes a full-blown crisis.
About half of employers across the world are reporting difficulties in filling a variety of roles, with the fields of skilled trades and engineering high on the danger list.
The problems are not confined to entry-level roles by any means; the skills that many of us will have developed earlier in our careers can become obsolete a few years later. In highly technical roles, learned skills can have a lifespan of just two-and-a half years.
OECD data shows around a third of the global labour force, over a billion people, had the wrong skills needed for their particular jobs. The estimated cost is an annual GDP loss of US$5trillion (RM21.25trillion), bigger than the size of Germany GDP.
As a knowledge-based company, the necessity to have constant access to the right Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills made us come up with a solution: a talent ecosystem that is interconnected and ensures there is a constant supply of talent by nurturing skills as early as the kindergarten and developing those skills throughout school, university and during careers with the company.
However, as we and other emerging market corporations seek to become truly global players, such a talent ecosystem does not automatically ensure that we have the right type of culturally aware staff with an international mindset helping us expand effectively on a global scale.
Against this background, we need a global solution by which we share best practices on how to tackle the skills gap.
One solution could be a “human-centred” approach by which we as HR professionals ensure that nobody is left behind in the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
By human-centred, we mean putting the individual first, tailoring talent and skills development to personal needs of students and employees.
For a human-centred talent development system to work, there should be a set of guiding principles or a framework in place adopted by employers, governments and educational institutions as best practice.
We recently together with our partners identified five such principles which could be summed up as follows:
Skills of the future (everyone should be equipped with future proof basic skills – including cognitive, social, cultural and digital);
Self-sustainability (everyone has the right to follow a unique and individual career path during their entire professional development);
Skills liquidity (information on job vacancies should be easily accessible around the world; employees hired only on skills and experience, regardless of education, gender, race, social status or physical health);
Labour market transparency (labour mobility, flexible and remote ‘virtual’ employment should be available to all, regardless of current place of residence) and
Diversity of values (the workplace and working conditions should support the professional and personal development of each employee, regardless of their values and beliefs).
Not a single company, not a single state, not even the largest one in the world can change the labour market culture on its own.
That is why we believe that such a framework of human-centred principles is a good starting point for bringing about change in the way we see talent and skills development in the workplace.
Let’s start this change today before it’s too late.
A recent International Data Corporation (IDC) whitepaper suggests that existing and future talents are unable to appreciate the significance of digital transformation and its impact on future jobs and competencies in a digitally-enabled workforce.
The study, a collaboration with INTI International University and Colleges, is based on a survey of more than 560 respondents, including students, graduates and parents.
INTI acting chief executive Tan Lin Nah said the study was unique in that it spoke about talents’ perceptions of IR4.0, rather than government and industry experts.
“The findings are a wake-up call that while technological change is taking shape in the country, young people are yet to keep up with its impact on their future.
“It shows that both education and industry still have much to do in building our talent pipelines to be globally competitive in an IR4.0 world,” she said.
While IR4.0 has been a buzzword over the past three years, more than half (63%) of student and graduate respondents were unable to articulate what it entailed.
A total of 54% of parents surveyed admitted they lack a clear definition and ability to discuss IR4.0 and its relevance to organisational transformation.
A panel discussion on the study, however, agreed that the issue was not about whether talents could precisely define IR4.0, but stressed the importance of inculcating the emerging workforce with a combination of skills, critical and design thinking abilities as well as technological skill sets built for the future.
The panel, held at INTI’s Subang campus, was titled “Graduate Readiness vs Industry Advancement Towards IR4.0: Can Graduates Hack it in Tomorrow’s Digital Future?”
It comprised Tan, IDC Asia Pacific research manager Jensen Ooi, PwC Malaysia human capital executive director Salika Suksuwan, Maybank innovation head Amran Hassan and Human Resources Development Fund Malaysia research and development department research unit head Wong Chan Wai.
“There is a gap in skill sets between universities and employers’ needs, but universities can’t equip graduates with all the skills they need.
“The industry does play a role in upskilling and reskilling talents as there are skills that can only be acquired when in an organisation,” said Wong.
Tan concurred that IR4.0 as a term has been “bandied around” but the truth of the matter was whether “you know or don’t, you’re already living it.”
A question that came up was, how do we teach for jobs that aren’t here yet, for tech that hasn’t been introduced yet?
“There’s space for technical skills, but the focus should be on the ability to think through problems and solve them using whatever tools we have – such as ICT – and use it in the most practical way.”
Salika also elaborated on the need for talents to be equipped with soft skills, including adaptability, a growth mindset and agility to embrace change and learning.
“It has to be a combination of human and digital skills. The hard or technical skills are not as vital, although still necessary,” she said.
Meanwhile, Amran offered a different opinion as he stressed the need for technical specialisation.
“It is impossible for universities to produce ‘ready-made’ graduates.
“To prepare students for today’s workplace, they need to understand that being a generalist is no longer possible and that they need focus on technical skills.
“For example, deep skills in technology, finance or accounting and really understanding it will allow them to later disrupt the industry with technology.”
Comment: Much has always been said about graduates not ready for the industry, due to various reasons like out of date syllabus, equipments, insufficient hands-on time etc. Models like training institutions collaborating with industry where students are trained theoretically at institutions & remaining hours at the industry’s workplace (SLDN) is a great way to train students which are industry ready. One of the successful example implementing SLDNis 7-Eleven. Another model that’s under explored is teaching factory, where even the theoretical portion is conducted at workplace/factory. Of course, this would need major commitment from the industry and someone has to enlightened them the cost benefits of investing in such a model, where they do not need to spend time & resources to re-train graduates if they are from the conventional model (graduate 100% from training institutions/universities).