DESPITE the government’s many efforts to improve Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the country, stakeholders have often described the sector as a stepchild within the education system due to a lack of funding and problems of unstructured governance.
According to the five-year 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), which was unveiled at the Dewan Rakyat on Sept 27, there were 1,295 TVET institutions – 640 public, 633 private and 22 state – that offer multiple programmes in the country as of December last year.
These institutions, as highlighted by the 2021–2025 report, are governed by various ministries, offering multiple programmes that result in duplication and underutilisation of resources.
Compounding the problem is the absence of an Act to govern the TVET sector. Hence, issues related to the management of TVET institutions by various ministries cannot be effectively addressed.
The report also identified learning and teaching delivery, technology mismatch, knowledge gap among instructors, and outdated equipment which impedes the teaching of current technology relevant to the industries, as among the many challenges TVET institutions face.
The dwindling enrolment rates in these institutions over the last few years has made matters worse.
“Student intake into TVET programmes has recorded a slight decrease in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The number of students enrolled in public skills training institutes in Sabah and Sarawak decreased from 28,624 students in 2015 to 27,347 students in 2020,” the 12MP read.
The reduction in enrolment numbers was also highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report 2019 (Series 2), which stated that “among the weaknesses” in the management of the sector’s programmes included the downward trend in overall student intake between 2016 and 2020.
The former had 139,699 students compared to only 99,589 students in 2020.
The reluctance of companies in accepting students for industrial training or work-based learning added to the predicament.
The number of organisations in several sectors capable of taking students as trainees has declined, the 12MP noted, affecting TVET graduates’ ability to secure jobs.
Published a day after the 12MP was tabled, the Auditor-General’s Report 2019 (Series 2) pointed out that TVET programmes in the country have not even achieved the targets that were set in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).
The report highlighted that valuations on the effectiveness of TVET as a whole were not implemented in the 11MP, apart from the weaknesses in the management of the programme in terms of its delivery and accreditation; accreditation certification; assessment of the competencies of teaching staff and management of student financing.
It also stated that TVET programmes only managed to produce 474,672 (52.8%) graduates from 2016 to 2020, compared to the 900,000 new job opportunity targets set for 2020, according to Bernama.
Additionally, a total of RM1.324bil of student loan repayments under the Skills Development Fund Corporation (PTPK) and RM443.63mil under the Federal Education Loan Revolving Fund have yet to be collected.
Taking these issues into account, the 12MP enumerated several strategies to elevate the country’s TVET sector.
Among them were to address the overlap in TVET governance, revamp the governance systems and strengthen TVET through digital learning.
Having such frameworks and policies to move the sector forward is a must, especially in embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Can the country, however, bridge the gap between achieving what it has yet to accomplish for TVET in the 11MP with the strategies set out in the 12MP?
National TVET Movement vice-chairman Datuk Ahmad Tajudin Jab said the strategies laid down lack institutional reforms in addressing the overlapping and redundancies of government agencies and institutions.
“The same problem will persist and optimisation of resources will not be addressed to reduce cost and efficiency.
“For example, TVET, which should be the game changer to meet new economic demands as stipulated in the 12MP, will not produce extraordinary outcomes because the sector remains fragmented and there is a lack of political will to address these issues,” he told StarEdu.