KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 (Bernama) — It’s high time Malaysians shed the perception that technical and vocational education training (TVET) is only appropriate for academic underachievers.
If they don’t, Malaysia may have to source for suitably qualified workers from other countries to fill the thousands of vacancies to be created over the next five years as it heads towards attaining developed-nation status, say analysts.
Some 1.3 million technical and vocational jobs are expected to be created by 2020 but the analysts are doubtful there will be enough qualified Malaysians to fill the posts if the current mindset prevails.
German-Malaysian Institute (GMI) Managing Director Yusoff Md Sahir said the time has come for the people to recognise the potentials of TVET, simply because the scope for jobs was vast in the technical and vocational fields. Most of these jobs are in the services, manufacturing, and information and communications technology (ICT) fields.
Even Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim had, earlier this month, highlighted the necessity for more Malaysians to take up TVET courses in order to meet the nation’s manpower needs in the related sectors.
“Our country needs the services of people who possess technical and vocational skills… (unfortunately) there’s this stigma attached to technical courses, so students seem more inclined to go for the professional fields,” he said.
How long will parents and students continue to ignore the career opportunities available in the TVET fields, which for years have been relegated to those who were underachievers in school?
Citing statistics from the Institute for Labour Market Information and Analysis, Yusoff said there were about 3.3 million Malaysian workers aged between 15 and 34 who only possess UPSR, PMR or SPM qualifications.
“Clearly, these school-leavers are the ones who should be targeted for TVET courses that are tailored to meet labour market requirements,” he told Bernama.
Stressing that TVET programmes should be designed to meet the needs of both local and global industries and demand for quality and skilled human capital, Yusoff said under the government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), an estimated 3.3 million additional workers would be required by 2020.
Out of this number, 1.3 million were expected to be TVET workers in the 12 National Key Economic Areas identified under the ETP, according to the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education).
“The mindsets of the people, in general, are still in transition from (the emphasis on) professional qualifications to (acquiring) high-tech and skills proficiency.
“However, in the transition towards (creating a pool of) technological and skilled expertise, it’s important to ensure that the training programmes concerned are well structured or are carried out through smart collaborations,” Yusoff said.
On salary scales across all industries and sectors, he said remuneration has not changed much since the 1990s and it did not commensurate with productivity which has been on the rise since 1992.
“Certainly, the existing low-pay, high-profit model is not suitable for a country on its way to attaining industrialised status, where human capital or talent is the driving force. By right, our nation should strive for a high-pay, greater-profit model,” he stressed.
Universiti Putra Malaysia Faculty of Educational Studies senior lecturer Dr Wan Marzuki Wan Jaafar, meanwhile, said early exposure to technical and vocational fields, as well as their bright prospects, would entice students to opt for TVET when they leave school.
Although currently professional courses remained their main choice, technical and vocational jobs also offered reasonably high salaries, he pointed out.
“I can see that people in suburban or rural areas don’t seem to be aware of TVET, so they can’t be blamed for thinking that professional qualifications are better for their children.
“Workers in the oil and gas industry, for example, are paid high salaries but the industry is not popular (with school-leavers) although its scope is wide,” he said.
Wan Marzuki said the availability of many TVET courses at public and private institutions of higher learning reflected the local job market’s sizeable demand for people with technical and vocational skills.
He also called on all parties, including non-governmental organisations, to cooperate and promote TVET as a viable option for school-leavers and, at the same time, help raise its profile among the public.
Malaysian Youth Council Secretary-General Ahmad Saparudin Yusup, while acknowledging the importance of TVET, highlighted the need for the government to identify, from time to time over the long term, core industries and the type of skills and expertise they required.
This, he said, would prevent a glut of trainees in any specific technical or vocational field.
“Looking back during the 1990s, there was an oversupply of ICT graduates and many of them had problems securing employment. We don’t want such a thing to recur.
“Hence, it would be wise to only offer (TVET) courses that are in line with current industry requirements and the nation’s economic growth,” he said.
Advising youths to be amenable to changes, Ahmad Saparudin said they should also be open-minded and rational in their outlook if they wanted to progress.
“If they can’t get the opportunities they want in this country, then why not go overseas to gain experience and knowledge. This way, they also become more mature and independent, and are forced out of their comfort zones,” he added.
— BERNAMA (Nur Aimidiyana Zuher)
Photo – afterschool.my