Thursday, 16 March 2017

TOWARD NATION-BUILDING - Importance of academic and skill-oriented training


A quick scan of reports online shows that in the most advanced countries, the percentage of population with a bachelor degree or higher was between 21 and 47 percent in 2013.
Interestingly, car-producing nations such as Germany and Italy recorded university degree attainment at only 28 and 21 percent, respectively. Yet, these are nations with the most recognisable marques in the world - many associating ownership of their products as symbols of success.
While the values of the tertiary education system are undeniable, the technology breakthroughs within the countries mentioned above are not contributions of graduates alone.
There are various routes to success, and more importantly, they are required to ensure nation building is implemented successfully.
University education focuses mostly on deep theory and knowledge. Those that take this route expected to master not only fundamental concepts, but also a wide range of advanced subjects that cater holistically to a particular subject.
Due to time limitations, naturally there would less emphasis on hands on technical skills. For example, anengineering graduate may know the mathematical intricacies of welding, yet struggle when handling a welding gun. He or she will know what needs to be done, yet cannot be expected to perform the task at hand.
The job of completing this would be for the trained hands of the skilled welder. This person would not expect to be "bestowned" with a university scroll, but would need certification from a skills training institutes that would give him the hand, eye and body coordination as well as stamina to sew sheets of metal together while withstanding immense heat and flying sparks.
By now we should have realised that both academic and hands-on talent must co-exist to complete a job - leading to an actual sales transaction of high value.
Unfortunately, we seem to glorify the former and place less value on the other. It is time to change this perspective.
By the time this article is read, 434,535 registered SPM candidates would have received their results.
While we congratulate those who have done well, it is equally important to guide the morale of those who are less fortunate with their results. School exams should no longer be seen as benchmarks of success, but rather an alignment of career options.
No matter the results, it should at worst signal our career paths. Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses, therefore be allowed to freely follow a path that maximises their strenghts.
Most importantly, we should not allow ourselves and those around us to kill our spirits in the face of failure. As mentioned in the previous article, labels of failure are only true if the individual accepts them.
In advanced nations, skills are revered and received equal, and sometimes bigger remuneration due to the years spent building and developing mastery in a particular skill.
These individual with skills are known as craftsmen and not just mere general workers.
As the automotive industry progresses further, I assure you that we will need more or both academics and skilled practitioners. Each day, new technologies are created, with products and processes of much higher complexity.
In the next part of this series, we will discuss the career opportunities that currently exist for both academically - and skill - oriented individuals
"It is fine to celebrate success, but at the same time head the lesson of failure".
The writer is chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.

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