AFTER 11 years of primary and secondary school education, school-leavers have a choice of continuing their pursuit of an academic-based education or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) after their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results are released in March.
TVET, in general and in the Malaysian context, is regarded as the main route in providing highly skilled human resources and also one of the key drivers of the economy for the country to become a high-income nation.
In Malaysia, the quality and skills of human resources are crucial to the success of economic transformation as well as realising Vision 2020 and the Transformasi Nasional 50 agenda of becoming a developed nation and high-income country.
Seven ministries provide TVET programmes — Human Resources; Education; Higher Education; Works; Youth and Sports; Rural and Regional Development; and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.
Under the TVET Malaysia Master Plan, the government aims to harmonise existing TVET systems to drive the performance and quality of this sector with the aspiration of raising the percentage of skilled workers in the country to 35 per cent in 2020 compared to 28 per cent currently.
Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul, who is attached with the Department of Learning and Teaching Innovation (Technical and Vocational Education/Engineering Education) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Education, said: “The country’s investment in human capital in the field of TVET will enable our nation to not only remain competitive but also become more so in the future. For SPM school-leavers, the chance to further their studies at TVET institutions is limitless. TVET provides a good education pathway.”
According to the Economic Planning Unit, the demand for labour — especially in the TVET sector — is expected to increase with the introduction of the National Key Economic Area (NKEA). By 2020, NKEA will require a workforce of 3.3 million of which 1.3 million are to be TVET graduates. The sectors in focus are tourism, retail, Greater Kuala Lumpur Development, healthcare and education. Emphasis will be on Industry 4.0 for a workforce with automation expertise and data exchange in industries technologies including the Internet of Things.
Mohd Sattar added: “TVET provides greater career opportunities for students who are hands-on and not academically inclined. The TVET stream offers diverse courses at colleges, institutions and training centres under the seven ministries.
“It also provides continuous lifelong learning opportunity and access to continuing professional development. With a TVET qualification, school-leavers gain employability.”
INDUSTRY-READY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
One of the earliest TVET programme providers in the country is the Youth Skills Development Division of the Youth and Sports Ministry. From its initial role of providing skills training to dropouts in 1964, the division has transformed to face challenges in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 era.
Its director general Dr Wasitah Mohd Yusof said the division embarked on a transformation programme between 2014 and 2016 that saw a close partnership with the industry as well as Youth and Sports Ministry Skills Training Institutes (ILKBS) — public skills training institutes under its purview — to produce highly skilled youths who can contribute to the development of the country especially to meet its industrial needs.
ILKBS comprises eight National Youth Skills Advanced Institute, 13 National Youth Skills Institute and the Golf Youth Skills Academy, amounting to 22 technical and vocational skills training institutes throughout the nation.
The range of programmes covers 10 areas: Automotive Technology (Car Maintenance, Heavy Machinery Maintenance, Commercial Vehicle Maintenance and Automotive Cat Spray); Hospitality Technology (Food Preparation, Food and Beverage Presentation, Preparation of Bread, Pastry Preparation); Mechanical Technology (Equipment and Mould Designer, Machining and Welding); Public Technology (Buildings, Construction Landscape); and Electronic Technology (Industrial Electronics) (visit http://kemahiran.kbs.gov.my for details).
Wasitah added: “TVET is suitable for everyone because it offers a variety of courses from technical to soft skills. Our TVET training is open to all SPM school-leavers and industry workers can get recognition based on their experience in the workplace.
“We also offer professional certification from the American Welding Society, City & Guilds and Energy Commission. Fees for ILKBS programmes start from RM450.”
The Youth Skills Development Division helps with employment placement such as establishing strategic cooperation with local and international companies, and improving the training curriculum and facilities to enhance ILKBS graduates’ marketability.
Currently, 36 memoranda of understanding have been signed with the Youth and Sports Minsitry’s strategic partners such as Petronas, Samsung SDIEM, Sunway Group, Gamuda Group, Mercedes-Fuso, and DRB Hicom. “Collaboration between the ministry and the industry improves ILKBS’s liaison and workflow in various fields. This is to meet the targets to produce skilled manpower for a high-income nation.”
Through linkages with the industry, ILKBS employs a “bootcamp” delivery training method, a form of intensive training with job guarantee upon its completion. The curriculum focuses on essential core skills by using the format and situation that most closely resemble the workplace environment.
There is also the ILKBS incubator programme which aims to inculcate entrepreneurial values in students. “For TVET graduates, career opportunities are not limited to working in the industry. They can also venture into business, especially technopreneurship, and not only create job opportunities but also become icons or mentors to TVET graduates, which indirectly create a positive chain.”
ILKBS programmes offer the following certifications: Malaysian Skills Certificate (MSC) Level One up to Malaysian Skills Advanced Diploma Level Five and Malaysian Skills Advanced Diploma based on the National Occupational Skills Standard established by the Department of Skills Development under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resources.
Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), embraces the higher TVET (HTVET) concept where unlike the conventional university where the minds-on approach is taken, the hands-on method is emphasised.
UniKL is the only private university among five tertiary institutions in the country that offer technical education. The other four are Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Perlis.
Professor Datuk Dr Azanam Shah Hashim, UniKL deputy president (international, industrial and institutional partnership) said: “We champion HTVET.
Conventional TVET programmes don’t focus on knowledge but on skills, but in HTVET, knowledge is also important. We want to produce a workforce competent in knowledge, skills and attitude.”
UniKL implements HTVET via its engineering technology programmes. “HTVET skills are needed in occupations that require use of body parts such as the hands, legs, eyes and sometimes nose and mouth. In welding, for example, hands skill must be good.”
In such programmes, there is at least 50 per cent hands-on approach with industrial exposure as early as Semester One (two weeks), Semester Four (four weeks), final-year project and a 24-week industrial attachment.
UniKL graduates get three transcripts when they graduate: an academic transcript, the Graduate High Order Critical Skills transcript which recognises student’s achievements and efforts, and either an industrialmanship certificate, professional or an entrepreneurship certification.
All UniKL engineering technology programmes are recognised by ETAC (Engineering Technology Accreditation Council) under the Board Of Engineers Malaysia.
HTVET programmes at UniKL start from the diploma level. The university has 13 institutes, covering Kedah to Johor, with seven in the Klang Valley. These institutes offer 139 diploma and degree programmes, 70 per cent of which are HTVET-based (visit www.unikl.edu.my for details).
“The vocademic (vocational and academic) programmes are open to all. Entry requirement is in accordance with MOHE standards. We currently have 21,000 enrolment and 40,000 have graduated since 2002,” added Azanam.