Making TVET a relevant choice

  • Education
  • Sunday, 12 Aug 2018

THE Asia Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Forum 2018 recently concluded with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik promising to make it the first choice for students in Malaysia.

Few countries have attracted a majority of their students to join a vocational track as their first choice. An exceptional case is Germany.

I visited Germany last year as a TVET visiting professor. I believe the German students are attracted to TVET due to its first-class infrastructure, industry-driven curriculum and high employability.

When visiting a German Berufsschule (vocational school); it was as if I was at a Technical University with first-class equipment, advanced technology and teachers with Masters’ degrees and craftsman qualifications. No wonder, German students are attracted to making this their first choice.

To make TVET a preferred choice for secondary and post-secondary students here, the government should make it as attractive.

Elite Meister High School in South Korea has attracted high-achievers to choose the vocational track because of its prestige.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the usage of smart robots, autonomous vehicles and Artificial Intelligence should be ubiquitous. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, asserts that the fourth industrial revolution will fundamentally alter the way we live, communicate, work and play.

According to McClean (2018), it is estimated that 75% of future jobs will involve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) knowledge and skills. We will increasingly need workers who have critical thinking and problem-solving skills; have multidisciplinary and cross-cultural competencies; communication skills, and social, emotional, digital and vocational intelligences. In other words, a learner with multiple intelligences should be welcomed to join TVET.

A Korn Ferry recent report shows that a major faux pas is imminent throughout the world. Demand for skilled workers will outstrip supply in most countries. On the global scale, the report has highlighted a global talent shortage of more than 85.2 million people by 2030. In the context of talent crunch, the shortage in Asia Pacific region could reach 12.3 million people and estimated US$4.23 trillion (RM17.46 trillion) of revenue loss by 2030 due to the talent deficit in certain sectors. Even companies that are using Artificial Intelligence and smart robots foresee a growing need for human talent with advance intelligent skills. The Korn Ferry report shows that 67% of CEOs believe that advanced technology is critical for companies’ growth.

The gap between TVET and industry should be reduced. Lack of specific legislation in Malaysia that requires companies to shoulder training hand-in-hand with the public vocational training institutions as in Germany is evident.

Since 1969, Germany’s Federal Legislation makes it compulsory for industry involvement in Vocational Education and Training.

As a TVET expert, I admire the German Vocational Education and Training System because of its focus on quality without any political interference. Excellence in any system requires two things: quality and merit. We need a critical mass of intelligent-workers who are using cutting edge technologies. Malaysia should also become a magnet for attracting the best foreign talent. But more importantly, the government should be mindful of its citizens’ employability in the context of the global talent market.

Adjusting teaching styles

It is essential that TVET institutions and industry invest in intelligent skilled talent, first-class infrastructure and provide continued access to both formal and on-the-job training opportunities. In this sense, the government should embrace more flexible education and training eco-system and labour laws.

Generation Z or millennials will make up 60% of the workforce by 2020. These techno-junkies and Wifi generation prefer an interactive approach to learning, which blends information through a montage of images, icons, sound, video, animation and Artificial Intelligence. Gen Zs take advantage of the enormous resources of the cyberspace by using digital technologies to create something innovative. Unless teachers possess digital intelligence and skills, Gen Zs will get bored. Educators have to adjust their teaching styles to accommodate the psyche of Gen-Tech. A new digital pedagogy is required.

In the digital age, to accommodate the expectations of the Gen Zs, educators need to possess digital intelligence, digital literacy, creative thinking, agility and flexibility. The future of education will be more virtual, mobile, interactive, personalised, dynamic and innovative. Digital learners prefer customised curriculum, instruction, and assessment. To embrace true digital transformation, the need for visionary, creativity, agility, flexibility and esprit de corps among teachers and learners is a must.

SThe intelligent-based TVET model isn’t only about technology, it is about bringing together the power of innovation, a new culture and a new mindset that embraces the change brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

TVET has been rebranded several times in the past. They mostly focused on enhancing the quality of TVET talent and skills. But building “intelligent TVET” is missing from the reform agenda. An intelligent-based TVET model should be developed to bridge its curriculum with the industry’s needs.

Key resolutions from the Asia TVET Forum 2018 are to enhance the 3As: Accessibility, Articulation and Accreditation. But what is lacking is the fourth A – Autonomy for TVET institutions.

American philosopher of education, John Dewey argued that in order for education to flourish, it requires “substantial autonomy” for institutions, teachers and learners.

Public TVET leaders and educators should enjoy autonomy to change the outdated curriculum, dinosaur technology, old equipment and irrelevant didactics. It is critical to recalibrate TVET to align to an intelligent-based approach as a way forward.


Faculty of Technical and Vocational Education

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris

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