Here's Why We Should Stop Looking Down On Technical And Vocational Education And Training

Based on the findings of a marketability study, more than 95% of polytechnic and community college graduates are able to enter the job market annually.

Cover image via MOHE

This Spotlight is sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

You may have heard of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), but how much do you really know about it?

TVET goes by many names and definitions, but in a nutshell, it involves both formal and non-formal learning that prepares young people with the knowledge and practical skills required to work in various industries.

In Malaysia, TVET programmes are offered at certificate, diploma, and degree levels by seven ministries, including the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), which offers the most TVET programmes to the highest number of students.

There are over 1,000 TVET institutions in Malaysia. Of these, 506 are public institutions.

Image via MOHE

There is a prevalent misconception in our society about TVET programmes

Many think that they are for those who don't do well academically and/or fail to get into other educational institutions. Thus, people tend to look down on students in TVET programmes, and overlook their achievements and contributions to society.

On the contrary, students in TVET programmes have attained many remarkable achievements

Image via MOHE

Based on the findings of a marketability study, more than 95% of polytechnic and community college graduates are able to enter the job market annually.

This proves that not only are they a top choice for employers, they also have the potential to further their studies to higher levels, such as university.

Besides that, the Department of Polytechnic Education and Community Colleges also supports the government's efforts in producing more job creators.

Between 2018 to 2020, polytechnic and community colleges have successfully produced almost 7,000 entrepreneurs among their graduates. Some of them have been capable of generating an income of up to five figures, as well as creating employment opportunities for other individuals.

And their success doesn't stop there. Many students in TVET programmes have even achieved international recognition.

Image via MOHE

These students have made the country proud at both national and international levels. They have won medals and gained victories and recognition through various skills competitions, innovations, sports, and more.

Some of the platforms in which polytechnics and community colleges have made a name for themselves include the FIRA RoboWorld Cup Competition, WordSkills Competition, Abilympics (Olympics of Abilities) for OKU students, Anugerah Tangan Emas Perdana Menteri, MySkills Competition, Sukan Institusi Pendidikan Tinggi (SUKIPT), Universiade, Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA), the SEA Games, and many more.

There are even polytechnic and community college graduates who have built successful careers overseas. This was made possible through the implementation of programmes that expose students to global career opportunities, such as international student exchange programmes and overseas industrial training programmes.

TVET programmes go a long way in helping graduates address marketability issues, helping them be more desirable to future employers. Here's how:

Image via MOHE
1. Equip students with the required knowledge and skills that will help them find jobs or become self-employed.

2. Work closely with various industries to hold specific programmes such as Work-based learning, Structured Internship Programme, and more.

3. Expand institutional collaboration network to include multinational companies through high-impact collaborations such as the CEO Faculty programme, Industry on Campus (IOC), Telent Enhancement Programme, and more.

4. Carry out reskilling, upskilling, and crosskilling programmes, such as the ones offered under the PENJANA-KPT-CAP programme. This is to ensure that students are guaranteed jobs after completing the training.

5. Emphasise the application of skills to enable students to practice their skills through practical workshops and laboratory sessions, as well as through developing innovative year-end projects in the form of solution providers.
Image via MOHE

6. Provide study programmes that are responsive to industry needs, through review and alignment of said programmes from time to time, so that students are properly equipped to enter the workforce.

7. Provide added value to students through the Finishing School programme that completes their certificates / diplomas with professional recognition and accreditation from certified bodies or agencies.

8. Expose students to entrepreneurship from as early as semester one, through the Entrepreneurship Incubator at the institutions, with the support of ministries and external agencies.

9. Encourage students to venture into gig economy and become successful freelancers to adapt to the new normal of the post-COVID-19 job market.

Besides trying to change the public perception, the government is also facing several other challenges in their efforts to further grow TVET in Malaysia

Image via Vialing

Besides wanting to get more sustainable cooperation from industries to further develop TVET, the government also needs better coordination for the various TVET-related providers and ministries.

Additionally, financing is also an issue. Sustainable financing is needed for the development and maintenance of institutions, facilities, and equipment, as well as to fund student studies at TVET institutions.

The rapid development of technology and how to embrace it is another challenge, especially in terms of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Elements such as student readiness, lecturers, facilities, allocations, policies, and the industry itself must be considered.

Finally, they must figure out how to adapt the implementation of teaching and learning, as well as the application of practical skills, to the environment of new COVID-19 norms.

Corporate and private bodies also play an important role in furthering the growth of TVET

Image via MOHE

In April 2008, the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) Jabatan Pendidikan Politeknik dan Kolej Komuniti (JPPKK) was founded. Its purpose is to get industry input and feedback on JPPKK's core strategies, as well as connecting departments with industries for the purpose of cooperation and smart partnerships.

IAC JPPKK consists of 17 key industries from various fields such as manufacturing, construction, logistics, retail, services, engineering, entrepreneurship, information technology, and banking.

In an effort to strengthen TVET, MOHE is always striving to improve Industry Player involvement, not only in training collaboration between industry and employment, but even in curriculum development, education policies, and employment opportunities.

Industry involvement in programmes such as Focus Group Dialogue, National Industry Dialogue, and Employability Advisory Committee can also provide input and feedback between industry-academia. This will help to improve TVET's quality of education, while simultaneously creating highly-sought after graduates.

If you're looking to enroll in a TVET programme, or even if you're a current student, JPPKK wants you to keep a few things in mind

Firstly, it's important for you to get information on the study and career paths you're interested in, so that you can set clear goals to be achieved.

Besides that, you should be equipping yourself with not only skills relevant to your chosen field, but also with other important competencies that will contribute to your future success. This includes communication skills, problem-solving, and fluency in English.

Above all, whether you're a potential or current TVET student, it's important for you to be truly interested in and passionate about your chosen field.

You should always be willing to learn new things and about new technologies. That way, you'll be able to change fields if necessary, and easily adapt to changes in technology and the job market.

Click here for more information about TVET

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