TVET, the way forward.

Yeoh (left) and Junita share the stage during the forum.

Yeoh (left) and Junita share the stage during the forum.

EXPERIENCED Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) practitioners need to be part of the education system as specialists.

Innovation in TVET must be strengthened.

Integrate STEM into TVET.

These were some of the points that were put across during the Malaysian TVET Forum 2019; a one-day forum organised by Kingsley Strategic Institute (KSI), that discussed important aspects of TVET over four sessions.

KSI president Tan Sri Michael Yeoh said as the nation moves towards the fourth Industrial Revolution and digital disruption, TVET will be critical in providing the skilled manpower the industry needs.

“We need (more) public and private partnerships to further scale-up the delivery of TVET programmes,” he added.

IBM Malaysia government and regulatory affairs director Hasnul Nadzrin Shah said TVET must be seen as a strategic enabler for national competitiveness, in the digital economy.

“In today’s world, we have to ensure that the country implements a “no one gets left behind” policy.

“TVET enabled employees will be an integral part of the digital transformation revolution.

“We have to make sure that TVET students are digitally literate and we leverage on their natural propensity to enjoy materials from the web.

“TVET must become mainstream and (be made) an integral part of the education (system),” he said.

Provide a platform for TVET students to improve on their skills, said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan.

“This is so they can serve at a higher level.

“This is what we aspire to have, and it is a challenge we are facing,” he added.

Tan said the country needs to look at TVET not as an alternative, but as the main way forward. “Academics propel the country forward, (but) it cannot build (the nation).

“We need to stand up on our own feet and the only way we can progress is by (implementing) good policies,” he explained.

Taylor’s University faculty of innovation and technology executive dean Prof Dr David Asirvatham believes TVET will be a major supplier of the workforce as it is critical for the economy of the country.

“Some of the things we need to look into is how to introduce innovation in TVET.

“Among the approaches to strengthen innovation in TVET is, we need more project-based learning.

“The teaching of concepts must be strengthened, especially in terms of ideas, skills and knowledge, as well as building a (collaborative) team because innovation isn’t about individuality,” he added.

Relevant programmes and suitable career paths must be looked into, he said, to prepare graduates for a global market.

On the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into TVET, Eduspec Holdings Berhad chief executive officer Lim Een Hong feels TVET offers an ideal platform for integration.

“When STEM is taught, we need to focus on critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, which are essential for the workforce.

“(Here), there are similar elements between TVET and STEM, and how we can integrate them,” he explained.

It is possible to integrate STEM skills into each subject, he said, but more research needs to be done.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the 11th Malaysia Plan projects an increase in the percentage of skilled workers among the local workforce from 28% to 35% by 2020.

“In order to achieve this target, TVET is to become a game changer so that it could easily meet the demand and requirement of the industry in terms of addressing the mismatch.

“The target is to increase TVET students’ annual intake gradually from 164,000 in 2013 to 225,000 in 2020,” he added.

His speech text was read by human resources department planning and research division director Junita Mohamed Ali.

Kulasegaran said there are 564 public and 690 private TVET institutions in the country.

Among the challenges TVET face, he explained, include factors such as dual accreditation bodies, overlapping of courses offered by the institutions, non-uniformity of entry requirements and different fee structures.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said changing the social perception of TVET is not an easy task.

“We have made significant progress in addressing the acceptance of TVET into mainstream education. “However, it is still perceived as the ‘second-best option’ in comparison to general education,” she said.

Her speech text was read by Education Ministry polytechnic and community college education department senior director (academics) Zainab Ahmad.

As economies transform, Teo said, TVET must as well, as it needs to adapt to the new configuration of the economy and a different cluster of needs.

By Sandhya Menon
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