The Kingsley Strategic Institute organised its first Malaysian TVET Forum on 24th January 2019 to discuss issues faced by Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Experts on the subject matter and stakeholders from the industry spoke extensively of the matter and recommended ways to bring Malaysian TVET forward.
The role of TVET was well recognised as a catalyst of growth for Malaysia to become a developed nation. This has been highlighted since the 11th Malaysia Plan, which identified the need for skilled-workers among the local workforce to be increased from the current 28% to 25% by year 2020. To meet the requirements of the industry, the annual intake of TVET students has to be increased gradually from 164,000 in 2013 to 225,000 by 2020.
Unsurprisingly, the importance of preparing for 4th Industrial Revolution was given high emphasis. Workers in the technical vocation industry will require knowledge and skills in cloud computing, big data analytics, robotics, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other features that engineers requires to perform jobs effectively in an Industry 4.0 environment. Several panel members have warned that these developments may potentially disrupt the jobs related to technical vocation, advising not only those trained in TVET, but all professions to instill the habits of continuous life-long learning. Fundamentally, several panelist have called for a review of how education, as whole, is conducted as the development of TVET begins with the incorporation of STEM in all areas of learning. This needs to begin at an early age.
A common theme emerging throughout the forum was that TVET needs to become industry-driven. There are gaps in practicality and relevancy between what is taught within TVET institution and what is needed by employers. The main factor is due the fact that TVET trainers themselves lack the practical skills and experience from industry. To correct this, industries should partner with TVET institutions and allow classes as well as practical training to take place at their premises. This will allow practitioners from the industry with the hands-on experience to mentor and teach TVET students directly. Not only will this reduce the cost of TVET training (which industries should take the initiative to bear, as they will otherwise need to invest in retraining graduates anyway), it will also increase the employment chances of TVET students due to the direct links forged with these industry partners.
Lack of awareness of TVET and its great prospects as a lucrative career option have not been sufficiently highlighted. Many Malaysian parents still perceive TVET as a path for dropouts or students with poor academic performance. This perception must be addressed and changed to increase the TVET enrolments, especially high-performing students. Education fairs should heavily feature TVET as a solid education option.
Despite several government agencies having TVET programmes, there needs to be greater coordination of the TVET curriculum and course design by the National TVET Empowerment Committee. The draft TVET Masterplan should be made available to all stakeholders for input.
Download the Forums proceeding report here.