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Prospects just as good with TVET

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Prospects just as good with TVET

The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results have just been announced so school-leavers or their parents need to make crucial decisions for their future. Which higher education institution to apply to? Which programme to take? Study locally or go abroad?

The options available are overwhelming. Medicine, dentistry, engineering and accounting have always been the top choices and thus extremely competitive, while information technology (IT) and data sciences are garnering increasing popularity due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0).

Universities are not the only option for access to high-paying jobs. Even a first-class degree from a top university does not guarantee a job if one fails to demonstrate the skills required by the employers. The answer may be the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Europe has two coexisting models of TVET — school-based or workplace-based — with a strong focus on apprenticeships in companies for the latter, such as in Germany and Switzerland. Working adults can be retrained with new skills through TVET education.

TVET graduates can gain entry into a variety of professions, such as robotics engineers, food nutritionists, industrial designers and culinary chefs.

The shift from “train-and-place” to “place-and-train” strategy to meet rising local industry demands, such as TVET programmes, means that students may get employed even before starting the programme, providing a lifeline to those who cannot afford expensive tuition fees.

The unemployment rate for TVET graduates is much lower than university graduates. They can even command higher starting salaries than university graduates due to their working experiences from training and internships.

Under the Board of Engineers Malaysia, TVET graduates can register as professional engineering technologists or technicians with opportunities to further their studies to become world-recognised professional engineers.

Therefore, TVET education should not be perceived as inferior or a dead end. Demand-driven professional qualifications adaptive to both the learners and employers will lead to the convergence of education and work. This ensures holistic and balanced graduates to be job-ready for access to rewarding careers and self-actualisation.

Higher education institutions need to equip graduates with higher level skills in the application, analysis, evaluation, innovation and creation within a global context through international exposures.

The current generation is living in an information overload era, with digital and data literacy pervading all aspects of life. Therefore, tech-driven communication and collaborative skills are crucial for the leaders and learners of tomorrow.

Innovative and entrepreneurial graduates can apply these transferable skills in setting up their businesses.

The advent of Education 4.0 promotes on-demand learning courses and programmes anywhere at any time. Online education programmes will render training borderless.

This means that universities are no longer the only venue for training high-skilled workforce to meet future job demands.

Some Malaysian universities have implemented 2u2i academic programmes with a two-year industrial training to support flexible education and experiential learning.

The current workforce needs to embrace lifelong learning with continuous professional development to become future-proof.

Long-established polytechnics and technical colleges in Malaysia should be leveraged in reshaping society’s perception of TVET education in producing skilled graduates capable of fulfilling today’s demands.

To achieve this, TVET institutions need to be empowered with better publicity, high-quality instructors and up-to-date training equipment on a par with the current industrial standards.

TVET education allows retraining of the workforce to stay relevant in rapidly changing job environments.

Source: New Straits Times

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