KUALA LUMPUR: To keep up with future workforce demands, the government want 60% of students to get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) compared to 44% currently, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic).
Global developments, especially Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) demands a technical workforce equipped with the latest skills, he said.
Modern nations such as Japan, the United States and Germany emphasised STEM learning and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as the main agenda of their education system to produce more technical professions, he said.
"We are also not behind in ensuring that STEM and TVET is being prioritised.
"The latest statistics showed that 44% of students in Malaysia made STEM their choice while the government has targeted for this percentage to be increased to 60% in the future.
"History has shown that this nation successfully managed to change from a country dependent on agriculture to one centred on industries.
"The main contributor to this success is the technical profession," he said in a recorded video speech played at the inaugural National Technical Profession Day celebration here on Tuesday (Dec 3).
Dr Mahathir added in advanced nations, the technical professions greatly contributed to nation-building.
As an example, he said, seven out of 10 biggest firms in Germany valued at €170bil (RM785.4bil) were companies based on the technical sector such as ICT, telecommunications and automotive.
He said that Malaysia had no choice but to work more aggressively to raise the technical professions in this country to a higher level to meet the challenges of IR4.0.
"In line with it (IR 4.0), we have to ensure our technical workers are equipped with the latest skills, upgraded and upscaled based on the technological developments and future industry needs.
"This effort will ensure that dependency on foreign workers in the technical sector can be controlled and reduced," he said.
At the same time, Dr Mahathir praised the expertise of the Malaysian workforce, saying that those working overseas had been recognised as having high knowledge in their own fields especially in the technical professions.
"This was proven through the success of Petronas, which is now operating all over the world with staff who have mastered knowledge and expertise in the technical field of the oil and gas industry," he said.
Earlier, Works Minister Baru Bian said that one of the important elements to make the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030 a success was the country's ability to produce technical professions in various disciplines.
"A country cannot attain success without a workforce that is competitive, skilled and equipped with the latest abilities.
"I trust and believe that the government will continue to prepare incentives for the people to upgrade their skills in order to achieve better productivity and increase marketability," he said in his speech.
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