• Madani Sahari

Vocational education vital for industrialisation endeavour

Opinions still linger among the industri players that there are apparent training mismatch of the new generation workforce entering the world of work within the local automotive sector. In fact, the comments are centred on many job applicant coming from the "heavily academic" background without industry relevance and vocational exposures.

An allocation of RM1 billion for the Skill Development Fund under the 11th Malaysian Plan (11MP) to support the targeted 1.5 million skilled jobs to be created from now to 2020, which  demonstrates the serious attention on the part of the government to human skills development.

The emphasis is now becoming clear, that is to ensure the uplifting of vocational skills training for the younger generation.

The decision calls for full response from the younger populace, industry players, academicians, training institutions, education planners, trainers so as to ensure the successful implementation of the nation vocational training.

The Malaysian populace is an academic oriented society that believes higher academic achievements ensure comfortable future, as are in many other developing nations.

Globalisation has since altered the perception, particularly among developed nations, where one in every five of their upper secondary school graduates is enrolled in technical and vocational programmes.

The ‘academic education approach’ is ‘teacher centred learning’, where the contents are driven by educators focusing on the course objectives.

The educator will present, interact, discusses, demonstrates and communicate with the students during lectures. The teaching is supplemented with tutorials and practical classes in the campus laboratory.

On the other hand ‘Vocational education’ is centred around the students to enhance their hands-on skills and experience based on the job skills required in a work environment.

The implementation of vocational educations varies across nations. However the main advantage of the system is to provide skilled workers relevant to the marketplace.

In the context of the system to automotive engineering, vocational education will provide a skilful workforce directly to the automotive industry and it related manufacturing activities.

The public perception towards vocational education must change for the system to be successfully implemented.

The issue of perceived second class status of the system to the ‘academic-oriented’ education and the perceived vocational students are ‘academic failures’ must be countered.

Industry players have a major role to play in removing these negative public perceptions by fully supporting training initiatives organised by the relevant institutions and to ensure employments for the students upon graduation.

Most importantly, the remuneration offered must be attractive and recognised at par to those academic oriented job seekers.

Naturally, for the industry to fulfil the employment condition the vocational curricula must be transformed to impart analytical skills, theories and critical thinking among the vocational graduates, at par to those academic oriented students, in addition to the imparted skills.

The German dual system is a good example in this direction where higher education and vocational education are structured together in order to embrace national qualification as well as the training requirements.

Meanwhile, the existing “Accreditation of Prior Achievement” programme developed by the Ministry of Human Resources is a good start to certify those experienced workforce.

The programme emphasises on the “life-long learning” concept may be extended to higher level than the current Malaysia Skill Certificate award to entice enrolment of these experience workforce towards higher vocational education and certification.

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