PETALING JAYA: The time has come to re-evaluate our education system, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
The Umno deputy president said as Malaysia approaches high-income status, it should pursue a different strategy for the education system.
"Failing to do so would cause unsteady progress as education impacts the pool of skilled talents needed for Malaysia to become a developed nation.
"Malaysia is one of the countries that spends generously on education. However, our students are still not in the top league despite many of them scoring straight As in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM)," he said in a statement on Wednesday (April 14).
He said there must be an explanation as to why there is a gap between student achievements in examinations and the applicability of their skills.
"We are now in the 'skills over degree' era, where skills and experience take precedence in the job market over education certificates.
"There is a need to shift Malaysian higher education towards a policy that emphasises skills," he said, adding that this shift is crucial in confronting the issues of graduates’ unemployability and the mismatch between education and industry demands.
He added “skills over degrees” was not, in this context, just technical or vocational skills.
"It is more wholesome, holistic, and balanced. The current job market is in dire need of more multidimensional talents who are critical, creative, confident, articulate, result-oriented, multilingual, a team player, meticulous, able to take pressure, and capable of reimagination.
"In the January World Economic Forum Report on 'Jobs of Tomorrow', it emphasises the continued importance of human interaction in the new economy, thus placing a greater demand for a workforce that could be at the forefront of people and culture," he said.
Mohamad said considering the abundance of job openings in the digital economy, and the changes to the traditional economy impacted by disruptive technology, the integration of digital skills and soft skills are of unique importance.
"Students should be equipped with skill sets that provide a balance between robust technical know-how and strong human interactions skills.
"This kind of skill set is usually found in the workforce that underwent liberal arts training," he said, adding that Malaysia's education system is far from perfect, and prone to disruption.
He said the education ecosystem requires a new system that can adapt and reform dynamically in this day and age.
"However, undertaking such structural reform is a daunting challenge, and is probably best done by the state," said Mohamad. ENDS