NOT enough school students are pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
Chow said the supply of students was from the schools before they reached university level.
“They must have their grounding, even as early as primary school if not in secondary school.
“This is why the state government is promoting STEM education with various initiatives through programmes at Penang Science Cluster and Tech Dome.
“We can inculcate their interest in STEM at an early age, so that there is a supply to fill university courses and meet industry demand, ” he said during a press conference in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) after launching the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and USM CEO Forum 2019 on Thursday.
USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail highlighted the shortage of engineering students on the campus.
“We are not producing enough to meet the needs of the industry.
“Additional Mathematics is one of the basic requirements for engineering courses, which could be one of the reasons for the lack of interest.
“This year, we managed to fill our engineering course intake, but we do not know about next year.
“Other universities may be affected by a shortage of students for engineering courses too, ” she said.
Prof Asma said the number of students taking up engineering courses is likely to fall each year and it will be a problem for the industry.
“Here at USM, we are trying to generate interest among secondary school students in STEM through a programme which allows students to be involved in projects directly with manufacturers, ” she said.
FMM Penang branch chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock urged the Education Ministry to introduce computer classes into the primary school syllabus.
“They must introduce computer classes at primary school because there is now a gap between primary school pupils and secondary school students, ” he said.
Earlier, both FMM and USM, which turn 50 respectively, jointly celebrated their milestone before launching the forum.