15-YEAR-OLD Muhammad Amir Isyraq Azman had always been clear of his career aspirations. Leveraging his aptitude in innovation, the SMK Pengerang Utama student aspired to pursue higher education at a local or international institution and become a chemical engineer.
However, after participating in the Discover PETRONAS@Schools (DPS) programme, which focused on Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), Muhammad Amir changed his mind and is now determined to join the oil, gas and energy industry.
DPS is an interactive and experiential programme that engages secondary school students, helping them to realise their academic pursuits and discover future career paths in the oil, gas and energy industry.
Held at the Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara in Bandar Penawar, Johor, on Nov 6, the TVET edition of DPS saw the participation of 22 schools from Kota Tinggi and Pasir Gudang.
The programme was organised in collaboration with the State Education Department and the District Education Office.
Through discussions and sharing sessions conducted by young PETRONAS professionals, the one-day full-board programme focused on nurturing interest and promoting future-forward careers for skilled workers in technical fields.
Muhammad Amir, who was among the 120 students selected to attend the programme, believes that he has gained insights into future job prospects and looks forward to making a sustainable difference in the industry in light of the ongoing energy transition efforts.
"The event gives me a better insight on the oil, gas and energy industry in Pengerang, shedding light on the diverse job opportunities available for those who are interested in joining the industry,” he said when interviewed.
Reflecting on the transformation of Pengerang from a once laidback locale within the Kota Tinggi district to a vibrant integrated petrochemical hub in Johor, Muhammad Amir noted the significant impact on local communities.
"Pengerang is rapidly growing, thanks to the industry creating more job opportunities and bringing in spin-off income for us," he remarked.
Similarly, Lye Yue Thong, 16, from SMK Desa Cemerlang expressed profound gratitude for the wealth of knowledge she gained on the industry through the programme.
“It is an eye opener for me, and I believe students from other schools are also having similar thoughts on the event,’’ she said.
Lye shared on the enjoyable, yet enriching aspects of the event, highlighting particularly the informative booths that provided participants with a glimpse into the diverse career opportunities within the industry.
Among the exhibitors who participated include the Department of Skills Development, Institut Teknologi Petroleum PETRONAS (INSTEP), Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM), TVET@Pengerang Integrated Complex, Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara Bandar Penawar, Akademi Binaan Malaysia Wilayah Selatan and regional vocational colleges.
“In the future, I hope that PETRONAS could also consider organising DPS TVET in schools to reach out to more students,’’ said Lye.
Apart from benefitting students, accompanying teachers also found DPS TVET to be an insightful initiative.
Siti Julia Mohd Shahrol, 42, who teaches computer science, highlighted the importance of broadening the reach of PETRONAS’ programmes beyond just students, advocating for the involvement of local communities, especially parents, in future endeavours.
“Involving parents and local leaders in these programmes provides them with a comprehensive understanding of TVET.
"It's an effective way to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding TVET, particularly among Malaysian parents who often perceive it as a path exclusively for students who did not do well academically in schools,” she noted.
Siti Julia commended the government’s efforts in encouraging students to embrace TVET, recognising its pivotal role in ensuring a sustainable talent pipeline and contributing to the country's economic growth through enhanced technical competency.
“To further this cause, I aim to share the knowledge I've gained about job prospects and career opportunities within the oil, gas and energy industry with students in my school,” said Siti Julia.
Samsul Azri Ahmad, a teacher from SMK Bandar Kota Tinggi, highlighted the significance of emulating Japan’s approach of cultivating a skilled workforce for Malaysia to become a developed nation.
Emphasising the importance of TVET, the 51-year-old teacher expressed optimism about the demand for talent with a background in this field.
"Relying solely on labour-intensive manufacturing practices is no longer sustainable. Our focus needs to shift toward high-technology and capital-intensive investments,” he explained.
Contributing to nation-building initiatives, PETRONAS demonstrates its dedication to investing in, and enriching its talent pool through various available technical opportunities. This includes its continuous collaboration with industry and government stakeholders to co-create technical courses relevant to the sector’s evolving economic landscape.