TVET should be seen as a great opportunity for our future generation to become successful in life.
It is sad to know that some, including parents, still see TVET as a path only for those who are not ‘very bright’, don’t have sufficient academic qualifications or don’t have academic interest.
All these misconceptions have resulted in many families forcing their children to study hard and apply for conventional varsity courses.
Times have changed. In today’s world, many jobs require individuals to have special skills and training which can be acquired by enrolling in TVET programmes.
TVET includes formal and informal learning that prepares young people with the knowledge and skills required in the working world.
According to the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco), TVET has been called by many names over the years – apprenticeship training, vocational education, technical education, technical-vocational education, occupational education and others.
Regardless of what it’s called, one common feature, according to Unesco, is that TVET, in addition to general education, is the study of technologies and related sciences as well as the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding, and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economics and social life.
TVET education can take place at post-secondary education, higher education levels and together with the apprenticeship system.
At the post-secondary level, TVET education is often provided by highly specialised trade schools, technical schools, community colleges, colleges of further education, as well as institutes of technology.
There are numerous vocational education centres in the country including vocational schools (high schools to train skilled students), technical schools (high schools to train future engineers, for example) and vocational colleges, all of them under the Education Ministry.
Then there are polytechnics and community colleges under the Higher Education Ministry and the National Youth Skills Institutes under the Youth and Sports Ministry.
The first vocational institute in Malaysia is the Industrial Training Institute of Kuala Lumpur established in 1964 under the Human Resources Ministry’s manpower department.
TVET courses and classes are specifically designed to prepare students for steady jobs in manufacturing, business, creative fields, computer networking, agricultural and farming industries and more.
Candidates who have certified vocational skills and training can also easily find work in various job sectors in the country which are now searching for workers with such skills.
Getting a TVET education will give more room and opportunity to our youth to get jobs and create jobs in the country, which will stop our reliance on foreign workers.
Many job sectors in our country can be filled by local workers especially in the agricultural sector, construction and farming.
Having more jobs for our people will eventually bring down unemployment numbers and the migration of local talents to other countries.
The government must be serious about TVET education.
A bigger budget should be allocated to strengthen its curriculum along with its existing centres and institutions.
Our students and younger generation should be exposed at an early age to the benefits of a TVET education instead of focusing only on conventional courses offered by universities.
The Education Act 1996 (Act 550) should also be amended to make vocational schools and colleges an important part of the country’s education system.
By changing our perception towards TVET as well as giving it our continuous support to the sector, we can increase the number of youth taking it up.
This will create more skillful people, and bring progress and development to our country.
Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
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