KUALA LUMPUR: The starting salary of vocational and technical graduates at between RM2,000 and RM5,000 a month is comparable to university graduates, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon.
“They are highly sought after by industries – 90% of the cohort in our TVET (technical and vocational education and training) who graduated last year are already employed,” said Chong to reporters after the opening of the third High Officials’ Meeting on South-East Asia TVET here yesterday.
He reiterated his call to parents, particularly from the Chinese community, to change the outdated view that university education was more prestigious, especially when university graduates were struggling to secure jobs.
“Vocational and technical graduates don’t just end up opening beauty salons or bakeries, many of them work for multinational companies like (aircraft manufacturer) Boeing, which has a service centre in Malaysia.
“If your children aren’t interested in academic studies, don’t force them. Let them choose their career paths according to their interests,” he said.
Chong said the country urgently needed vocational graduates to build a skilled workforce which was necessary to support industries in aviation, automobile, manufacturing and oil and gas.
“Only 8% of our secondary students are in TVET.
“This is low compared to advanced countries like Germany and Switzerland, where almost 60% of their students are in TVET,” Chong said, adding that the Government also aimed to increase the percentage to 20% by 2020.
In line with that, Chong said the Government had introduced the “Upper Secondary School Industry Apprenticeship” (Pima) at a national school this year, and planned to roll it out to other interested national schools.
Involving only Form Four and Five students, those who join Pima will spend 70% of their time in industrial training and 30% in academic studies.
At the end of the programme, the students will receive a certificate – Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia.
The Government is also converting unused teachers’ training institutes into polytechnics and vocational colleges.
The High Officials’ Meeting on South-East Asia TVET aims to create a network among leaders in the field and related development agencies in the region.
It also promotes exchange programmes among lecturers and students, joint research programmes and industrial linkages.
Chong said Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia were among the most active in the network.