THE job landscape has changed.
Having paper qualifications alone, isn’t enough, warned the Education Ministry.
Professional certifications endorsing a person’s knowledge and competence, and the ability to adapt to changes, are needed, said the ministry’s technical and vocational education division director Zainuren Mohd Nor.
It’s about what you can do, and the positive changes you can bring to a company, that matters, he said in a press release.
“Vocational education and training is a key driver for economic growth as it produces skilled human capital. Yet, there’s a misconception that it’s second class when compared to mainstream education,” he said.
The negative perception, he explained, started in the 1970s when vocational schools catered for low achievers and was seen as an alternative for those who struggled academically.
“This stigma, coupled with the perception that vocational students have disciplinary problems, have carried on over the years, leading to these institutions being sidelined and seen as inferior,” he said, adding that successful vocational graduates were rarely highlighted, which made things worse.
Since 2012, vocational schools have been upgraded to vocational colleges (KVs), where 36 diploma programmes are offered at 80 KVs for students who have completed their PT3 national examinations.
KVs are among the institutions that provide workers who are ready for Industrial Revolution 4.0, said Zainuren. Selected students undergo a four-and-a-half-year course. They’re awarded diplomas from the ministry, and a Malaysian Skills Certificate from the Department of Skills Development Malaysia.
“Parents needn’t worry as vocational courses prepare their children with the necessary competence, education and attitude, that our future workforce needs.
“The success of over 15,000 vocational college graduates from the first and second cohorts, is proof that vocational training isn’t a dumping ground.
“These holistic graduates are prepared for sustainable career-building and are able to survive in Industrial Revolution 4.0 where industries rely heavily on cyber-physical systems that create new business models, work processes and industrial automation.”
He said the Vocational College Standard Curriculum (KSKV) was also being developed with a technical advisory committee consisting of experts from industries and universities. The curriculum covers 70% hands-on learning, and 30% theory, through academic and vocational courses. The students will undergo on-the-job training for five months.
“Soft skills, innovation and entrepreneurship, are embedded in the curriculum so students are equipped with a wide range of competencies and skill sets.”
He added that engagements with industries and professional bodies - especially for collaborative programmes, innovation competitions and certifications, prepare students with skills and experience that are relevant in the job market and for them to become entrepreneurs.
“The aim of learning is to produce holistic graduates who can apply and innovate technology and accommodate the rapid changes of technology.
“Vocational graduates are ready for social transformation especially in becoming job creators, and they’re able to cope with changing job trends,” he said, adding that these students can also continue their tertiary education at private or public universities later on.
They can enter universities directly after obtaining their diplomas, or they can gain admission via the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).