Time to make TVET work


MAJOR changes are required to improve the nation’s fractured technical and vocational education and training (TVET) implementation, industry players say.

With the passing of Budget 2023 in Parliament just days ago, the country’s TVET sector will receive a much-needed boost.

But whether the RM6.7bil allocation is able to achieve far-reaching transformations and bring real change to the industry hinges on the creation of a new, more effective TVET framework, said Bumiputra Private Skills Training Institution action committee chairman Nordin Abdul Malek.

“We need a new model which minimises the involvement of the ministries managing TVET issues.

“We only need three ministries, instead of the current 11, involved.

“The Human Resources Ministry can tackle issues of upskilling and reskilling our labour force; while the Education and Higher Education Ministries can be responsible for TVET in schools and in higher learning institutions,” said Nordin.

He added that TVET implementation has long suffered from having “too many cooks who spoil the broth”.

“There are just too many ministries and agencies involved. All are doing the same thing so there is redundancy, inefficiency and a waste of resources.

“Programmes and certifications are not synchronised as each group is preoccupied with doing its own thing.

“The TVET sector is very fractured and everyone works in silos,” he said.

Describing the country’s lack of skilled labour as a ticking timebomb, Nordin said the government needs to look into producing more TVET graduates if we are to reduce our reliance on foreign labour.

TVET programmes should be introduced and promoted at secondary schools instead of at the tertiary level, he suggested.

Students, he said, should also be introduced to a more hands-on approach with these important technical and vocational skills at an earlier age, so that their interests can be identified and skills nurtured.

“How are we going to jumpstart the country’s growth towards developed nation status if we don’t have enough properly skilled workers?

“An over-reliance on foreign labour will hurt us in the long run as it will affect our currency exchange and lead to an outflow of billions of ringgit,” he said.

TVET is defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as 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, in addition to general education.

But in the Malaysian context, vocational training is often seen as a skills-based, industry-focused career training alternative to the usual academic education path.

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers can earn a certificate or diploma through TVET programmes, while those who have finished Form Three can sign up for the National Dual Certificate and Training System (SLDN) programme.

In the past, there was widespread stigma against TVET, which saw the government adopting various initiatives to rid the perception that vocational training was a “lower” form of education suited only for those who were not academically inclined.

Nordin said, “There is a pressing need for mass awareness campaigns about TVET to be conducted by the government, as well as initiatives and rewards to encourage the sector’s growth. Everyone from parents to students to employers must realise the value of TVET graduates.”

This, he added, would undoubtedly require resources, which is why, he stressed, it is crucial for everyone in the TVET sector to regroup and restructure their operations.

According to National TVET Movement vice-chairman Datuk Ahmad Tajudin Jab, TVET enrolment is still reeling from challenges brought on by Covid-19.

The pandemic, he said, disrupted many things in our modern environment, and caused a major shift in attitudes when it came to traditional careers and employment.

“Schools were closed and those without gadgets struggled to access education.

“The pandemic also saw the rise of the gig economy and e-hailing. People saw that it was possible to do well there and so decided to work in these sectors, instead of attending university or taking up technical training,” Tajudin said.

While these sectors proved lucrative at the time, he said these have become less so as Covid-19 moves towards the endemic stage here.

“If we do not get the youths back into academic and vocational training centres, we will have many unskilled workers out there. Without any proper certification, it will be difficult for them to find employment,” Tajudin added.

He said TVET would always be relevant, and may even surpass academic courses someday.

This is because TVET allows you to acquire skills quickly to keep up with changing industry demands, he explained.

And once you complete a course, you can join the workforce immediately.

“Its ease of entry and practical nature is of great benefit regardless of which industry you are looking to join,” said Tajuddin.

Federation of JPK Accredited Centres Malaysia president Azizul Mohd Othman called for more engagement between TVET training centres and the various industries to address the mismatch between the skills of graduates and the needs of the market.“Innovative approaches that would expand partnerships with industries beyond student internships should be promoted. Innovations should include project-based learning, guest lectures, and even industry recognition of high achievers to encourage competitiveness among the students,” he said, adding that skills enhancement is important to meet the demand for new technologies in an ever-evolving volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

Reskilling and upskilling programmes, said Azizul, should be encouraged or, if need be, made compulsory to ensure a competent and a ready workforce is available to meet the challenges ahead.


THE VIEWS

Many people are now realising the importance of TVET for work. Quite a number of candidates I’ve interviewed and hired had taken or were taking some form of vocational training. They realised this was the way to move forward, especially as the world recovers from challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem is that many of those who take up TVET programmes are not capable of telling the difference between the good ones and the bad ones. Many of them end up with training in areas that are of little or no real value or those that are not recognised by industry. Some even end up with dodgy courses that sound like scams which they unknowingly include in their resumes. We need to improve digital literacy and equip our youths with the skills to detect the red flags in the questionable course providers.– Lee Yoong Shin, user experience (UX) writer

My youngest son is taking an office administration programme at a TVET college, and he seems to be blossoming well there. It is important to have comprehensive career pathways that equip young people with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to enter the workforce and find employment. TVET programmes should not only focus on imparting technical skills, but also concentrate on teaching students crucial soft skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork and communication. Many Malaysians are also unaware of the career opportunities available through TVET training. It is important to increase public awareness of its benefits. – Prema Subramaniam, manager

Vocational training is the foundation of creating a practical and skilled workforce for various careers. Individuals with vocational training are better at problem-solving, and at effectively using the resources available to them. TVET has really helped me throughout my career, as much of my practical experience in electronics and hardware made it easy for me to dissect, diagnose and resolve complicated issues. It also gave me the confidence to take on tasks and collaborate with people, which was part and parcel of my vocational training. One of the main reasons for the lack of TVET training in Malaysia is insufficient funding. The quality of training needs to be improved, to ensure it is up to date, relevant, and in line with industry needs. Collaboration between industry players and education providers is also greatly needed to help ensure that TVET programmes are able to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to work in specific industries. – Johnson Lam, chief innovation officer


The latest in TVET (2023)

January

> Stressing the importance of technological skills and competency, as well as the importance of learning future-proof skills that would remain relevant and important through time, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said a massive overhaul of the national TVET ecosystem would be conducted.

> The Human Resources Ministry proposed that the Malaysian Skills Certification System (SPKM), which is based on the National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS), be used as the country’s single certification for TVET. Its minister V. Sivakumar said the move was necessary due to confusion in the implementation of TVET in Malaysia, which was caused by the existence of various TVET certifications accredited by two regulatory agencies, namely the Skills Development Department and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. On Dec 7 last year, Cabinet made a decision to transfer the function of the secretariat of the National TVET Council to his ministry. It was previously placed under the Higher Education Ministry. Following the decision, Sivakumar said his ministry would use the opportunity to improve and dignify the image of TVET in the country so that it is no longer seen as a second or alternative choice.

February

> KerjayaTVET will provide a RM600 incentive for a three-month period to employers hiring TVET graduates through a RM44mil fund, with some 17,000 such graduates to benefit via MYFutureJobs, the Social Security Organisation (Socso) announced.

> Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) will enhance TVET centres’ construction-related programmes and create customised TVET and upskilling programmes, which will focus on modular construction. The engineering and construction group said it would invest in TVET centres and collaborate with industry skills accreditation and development institutions such as the Construction Industry Development Board.

> The revised Budget 2023, announced by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had proposed that leading companies in the private sector to partially or fully take over the operations of TVET institutions such as community colleges, public skills training as well as national youth skills institutes to provide training programmes that meet their needs. He said although the government spends up to RM6.7bil for TVET and 90% of TVET graduates get hired, they earn a meagre salary of about RM2,000 monthly. He said companies such as Intel Corp, Motorola and Inari Amertron Bhd have taken advantage of the Penang Skills Development Centre to organise training programmes based on their needs and the government would pilot this model involving federal TVET institutions with a target of 50 companies mainly from among government-linked companies (GLCs). It was also announced that TVET programmes would be expanded to include TVET Tahfiz, TVET Junior and TVET TechnoUsahawan and that RM50mil would be allocated to benefit over 8,000 TVET trainees under the National Dual Training System (SLDN).

> Deputy Prime Minister and National TVET Council chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said training modules would be put in place for artificial intelligence, as well as sectors and areas related to the 4.0 and 6G industrial revolutions, as they were among the industries that could offer training to ensure students’ employability. He said where the students’ employability rate is lower than 50%, institutes providing the TVET training courses would have to change and provide students with training that can enhance their employability. There were 1,295 centres providing TVET skills training and courses, he said.

March

> VTAR Institute’s new Wireman PW4 training programme is aimed at tackling the national skilled worker shortage. Former deputy education minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who launched the programme, said unlike most developed countries where skilled workers make up about 54% of the total workforce, only 16% of Malaysia’s labour is skilled. This was a worry as investors may find it difficult to carry out their operations here.

> Anwar said 60 local and multinational companies, including the Sunway Group and Berjaya Group, have committed to fund TVET training.

> Ahmad Zahid suggested TVET graduates, who are highly skilled labour, be paid at least RM3,000, double the country’s minimum wage of RM1,500. By increasing their minimum pay, companies could increase productivity and quality.

> Sivakumar said only 5% of youths aged between 15 and 24 were involved in TVET, which was relatively low compared to developed countries. Even among Asean countries, Indonesia has recorded a rate of 12.8% and Brunei 7.5%, he said, adding that collaboration between the government, GLCs and private companies would increase the participation of youth in TVET.

> Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) was looking into expanding programmes aimed at providing opportunities to TVET trainees.

> The National Structured Internship Programme (MySIP), where employers are encouraged to provide meaningful and relevant internships for local students through, was expanded to include TVET students, according to Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad.

> Sivakumar said it would be working with at least 10 companies in the private sector to kick off the government’s new approach to provide TVET programmes that meet the needs of industries. said the companies include would not take over TVET operations of institutions but would work together with the government.

> Community Development Department (Kemas) has enabled the volunteers to attend TVET courses. Besides cooking, there are also classes on sewing, computer literacy, and social media marketing. It could really help us in the long run.

> The government is mulling a review of the RM800 fee to allow more youth, especially those in rural areas and the Orang Asli community, to join TVET programmes, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.


  • Under the 10th Malaysia Plan 2010-2015, TVET was a key component to transform Malaysia into a high-income nation by the year 2020. This was to ensure a constant supply of multi-skilled workers that will able to meet the country’s development.
  • Today, there are over 1,000 centres, both private and public, that offer TVET programmes nationwide. About eleven ministries oversee TVET related programmes, with the major players being the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR), Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). A component of the MOHR, the Department of Skill Development (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) is responsible for the development of training syllabus and modules known as the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS).

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TVET , Covid-19 , education , reskilling , upskilling

   

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