It is not the end of the road if students get disappointing results as there are other options to consider
WE are Asian, not “Bsian”. This is a meme that many youngsters laugh at and can relate to.
There is also a joke whereby if a Malaysian student were to score A in an exam, it means its average; B is below average; C is can’t have dinner; D for don’t come home; and F for find a new family.
While one may chuckle upon reading it, try to imagine this.
A disappointed school-leaver trudged towards the parent, saying, “I didn’t do well in SPM” and receives a curt, disdainful, “Didn’t I tell you to study harder? Without good results, you have no future!” response.
Many people believe that the ultimate stepping stone to a bright future is to obtain strings of As during public examinations.
However, times have changed and formal education isn’t the only way to carve out a career, unlike others at a different time.
If one fails to get good grades or satisfying scores in SPM, there are other options that students can consider.
A second chance
Clutching his SPM result slip, Ravichandran Marimuthu was at a loss over what he could do next.
Having passed only three subjects and failed all others in the 2015 SPM, the forlorn lad believed he had nowhere else to go and that he couldn’t do anything about it.
After working odd jobs to earn a living for over a year, Ravichandran was introduced by a relative to a hospitality practical course where the prerequsites did not focus on his previous exam results.
Thanks to his hospitality course, Ravichandran, 21, has gained much industrial experience in housekeeping - the operational department in a hotel responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public areas, back areas and surroundings - after being trained in a hotel in Singapore for about six months.
“I felt like I was given a second chance when I took up the hospitality course,” he said, adding that he would be able to find better jobs as his experience widens.
His advice to school-leavers or dropouts is not to give up hope.
“If you don’t do well, use practical courses to arm yourself with some qualifications so you can build a better life. All is not lost.
“Parents must also believe that there are other ways forward besides entering university right after completing school,” said Ravichandran who was living and working in Singapore.
He added that he has come across parents who doubted the existence of these practical programmes and questioned if they were scams.
Ravichandran, who is an only child, resigned from his job recently to return to Malaysia to care for his elderly parents who are ill.
He plans to go back to his career in the hospitality industry once his parents’ health have improved.
He completed his studies at DHS Hospitality Academy Sdn Bhd (DHS) - a smart partner of the Universiti Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) - that offers a platform for those who want to enter the hospitality field.
UMCCed skills and education enhancement division manager Mohd Zaki Mohd Yaacob said youngsters should always keep in mind the philosophy of lifelong learning.
“Even though you completed or haven’t completed formal education or you fail in between, there are places such as UMCCed where you can continue pursuing your studies.
“There is always a light at the end of tunnel,” he said.
The institution, he added, also offers practical courses for those interested in the oil and gas industry, among others.
He said that parents need to counsel their children, to make sure they do not give up hope even when they fail or do not do as well as expected.
DHS human resources and training group director Dr Sri Kumar Sivakumaran said UMCCed would provide the certificate of completion when the students successfully graduate from its programme, which gives students the opportunity to train in Singapore’s hotel industry.
“The programme offers various courses such as management, hospitality and skills. They will study theory for a month in Malaysia and start a six-month stint in Singapore where they are provided with meals, accommodation and an allowance of RM1,500,” he said.
He stressed that graduates from practical programmes are as capable as others who have gone through the traditional routes, to make a good living. He added that practical programmes are able to produce industry ready employees.
An unconventional choice
While enrolling into college or university is still the go-to choice for young Malaysians, Nur Syafiqah Alias from Taiping, Perak, chose the “practical” route and took up the German Dual Vocational Training (GDVT) in 2015, before her STPM results were released.
Combining 70% practical and 30% theoretical training, GDVT provides a platform for school-leavers to have access to on-the-job training as well as post employment training.
The programme is linked to the Malaysian National Dual Training System (SLDN) and is coordinated by the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC) together with the Malaysian Department of Skills Development (JPK).
After three years of training with Hauni Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Nur Syafiqah is now into her seventh month as a full time staff at the German company’s Malaysian human resource department.
The lass who scored quite well in SPM and STPM said people, in particular parents, need to stop thinking that practical training is only for “weaker” students.
“Going through such practical programmes is like taking an advanced diploma. It isn’t easy, but trainees are exposed to the real working world where they can develop their career, communication skills, build self confidence, and become more mature.
“It also saves time as I’m exactly where I want to be at this juncture, while getting first hand industrial experience,“ said the 23-year-old who became more proficient in the English language thanks to the training she received.
Fellow GDVT graduate Michelle Abu Bakar, 23 who obtained an SPM certificate, also believes that practical training for any school-leavers seeking a non-theory based education was a good option.
The German-born lass whose mother is German, said she took this option as she preferred a hands-on education so that she could learn skills on the job.
“Practical training isn’t a lesser option. It’s just a different option in gaining knowledge and I believe I gain more by having hands-on experiences.
“There is direct knowledge passed onto apprentices. I get to learn directly from the manager, or even the managing director himself,” she said, adding that her confidence level rose after she learnt how to network and mingle with people at the German company she trained in.
Michelle is now working for MGCC.
GDVT project officer and coordinator Kumaran Nair said the GDVT is beneficial to school-leavers who prefer the hands-on approach as it comprises 70% practical training and only 30% theory-based.
“Students who applied for it will be shortlisted by the companies themselves and will be interviewed by them.
“The training is fully funded by the company that hires you, and allowances will be provided,” he said.
He noted that the commercial subjects such as industrial management and logistic operation management take three years to complete, while vocational subjects such as megatronics and electronic automation technology take three-and-a-half years.
“The companies’ minimum requirements include being able to communicate and having some interest in vocational training for the commercial subjects.
“For megatronics and electronic automation, the companies would prefer candidates to have obtained at least a credit in physics or mathematics,” he said.
Kumaran stressed that there would always be opportunities for school-leavers who don’t do well in the SPM, provided they take the initiative and are willing to take opportunities available in the market.
“Choose programmes in the market that are reputable and always make sure that the programme selected enables you to be industry-ready,” he said.
Practical courses, he added, can help reduce the unemployment rate among youngsters.
“About 95% of our graduates are employed by the company they trained under,” he said.