Chance for brighter future through skills training


Johor Skills Development Centre in Pasir Gudang has trained over 75,000 people since it was established in 1993. — Photos: THOMAS YONG/The Star

Students grateful for opportunity to further studies, gain vocational qualifications at development centre in Pasir Gudang

WHEN N. Eshanth decided to continue his studies after having left school for over a year, he met with many challenges.

The youngest of three siblings said it took him months to find a place willing to provide him training and upgrade his skills.

ALSO READ: ‘More pathways needed for students without SPM qualifications’

“I left school when I was 17, without sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.

“At that point, I had already been working part-time with a contractor for about a year.

“My job was to assist him in things like painting, cementing and wiring.

Eshanth (left) listening intently during a class at Johor Skills.Eshanth (left) listening intently during a class at Johor Skills.

“I no longer had the interest to study at that time and thought that it was better for me to work.

“However, after working for a while, I started feeling the urge to learn something new and upgrade my skills.

“Sadly, I was not given a chance as I did not have an SPM certificate,” he told StarMetro.

Eshanth, who is now 18, then found out about Johor Skills Development Centre (Johor Skills).

“I was very happy to be told I could undergo training despite not having an SPM certificate.

Theneash entered the workforce as he could not get into a higher education institution.Theneash entered the workforce as he could not get into a higher education institution.

“I enrolled in a two-year electrical course, which I am still pursuing,” he said.

With encouragement from his peers and lecturers, he also decided to sit for the SPM as a private candidate last July.

“Many people have a negative perception towards dropouts, thinking that we have no interest in studying and that we never will.

“In actual fact, there are some of us who want to go back to school later in life but find it difficult to get an opportunity.”

Eshanth is among dozens of dropouts given a chance to pursue their studies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses through Johor Skills, founded three decades ago.

Nur Ninaqarlina is aware of the value of a vocational qualification.Nur Ninaqarlina is aware of the value of a vocational qualification.

The centre, located in Pasir Gudang, offers six mechanical and electrical programmes to school leavers.

Also taking a course at Johor Skills is K. Theneash, 21, who could not get into any higher education institution despite having an SPM certificate.

“My SPM results were not great, but I still wanted to continue my studies.

“However, after months of trying and failing, I decided to work at a warehouse near Senai.”

All fired up: Students at Johor Skills Development Centre in Pasir Gudang getting a hands-on lesson on welding. It is one of six electrical and mechanical programmes available to school leavers. — THOMAS YONG/The StarAll fired up: Students at Johor Skills Development Centre in Pasir Gudang getting a hands-on lesson on welding. It is one of six electrical and mechanical programmes available to school leavers. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

A few months later, the movement control order happened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I could not work so I decided to continue looking for other opportunities online.

“I came across a video online about Johor Skills and decided to apply for a welding course after the pandemic and was accepted.”

Making dreams come true

For some students, taking up a course at Johor Skills is not a last choice but a dream come true.

Nur Ninaqarlina Mazlan, 19, has been passionate about TVET programmes since she was in primary school.

“I received offers to take up degree and diploma courses from a public university and a polytechnic but decided to turn them down to pursue my studies here.

“I found out about this place during an SPM workshop when I was in Form Five.

“I realised that it was a place that focuses more on practical lessons instead of theory.

Forklift training is one of the short courses offered at Johor Skills.Forklift training is one of the short courses offered at Johor Skills.

“That was what made me decide to come here.

“I want to be able to work on things with my hands instead of sitting in a lecture hall,” said Nur Ninaqarlina, who is taking an electrical course.

She hopes to see more women take up TVET courses.

“When I tell people what I’m studying they are quite surprised.

“I hope people will change their perception of vocational programmes as second-class.

“Everyone has different talents and interests and should be allowed to pursue them,” she said.

Sallehhuddin: Apart from school leavers, Johor Skills also trains unemployed graduates and workers wanting to upskill.Sallehhuddin: Apart from school leavers, Johor Skills also trains unemployed graduates and workers wanting to upskill.

Johor Skills deputy general manager Sallehhuddin Mohd Nor said apart from school leavers, the centre also provided training programmes for unemployed graduates and workers wanting to upskill.

“The six programmes that cater to school leavers take two years to complete.

“We also have a two-month programme for graduates who are unable to find employment.

“For both these programmes, we will help them with job placement.

“In most cases, they will get a job in not more than three months,” he said, adding that the employability rate of graduates was almost 100%.

Sallehuddin said since its establishment in 1993, the centre had trained 75,0000 people where about 10% were school leavers and unemployed graduates.

Welding lecturer Mohammad Taufiq Mislan (left) teaching students at Johor Skills.Welding lecturer Mohammad Taufiq Mislan (left) teaching students at Johor Skills.

“Johor Skills also has about 150 short courses, ranging from one day to a few weeks, for those wanting to improve their skills or learn new ones.

“Companies also send their workers to take up these courses, which range from forklift training to computer classes.”

Sallehuddin said school dropouts should be given more opportunities.

“It can be very devastating and demotivating for students who want to learn but are not given the chance to do so.

A lecturer (right) helping Nur Ninaqarlina with an assignment involving a circuit box.A lecturer (right) helping Nur Ninaqarlina with an assignment involving a circuit box.

“Some may not have done well in their SPM while others may have decided to quit school early.

“This does not mean that they are not smart or talented.

“They should be given opportunities to learn if they want to instead of being pushed away.”

The time has come for the public, including parents, to discard the perception that TVET programmes are not good enough, he added.

“These are the kinds of programmes that produce workers that are in high demand, both domestically and internationally,” Sallehuddin said.

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Johor Skills , SPM , school , dropout , talents

   

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