KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system has undergo an overhaul if it hopes to hold any promise of real change for the industry.
In its School-to-Work Transition Survey, Khazanah Research Institute said that while the Education Blueprint emphasises TVET as essential for the needs of the labour market and economy, the TVET take up rate among students has been less than stellar.
Only 13 per cent of upper secondary school students are pursuing TVET courses while at higher education level, less than 9 per cent of students are in polytechnics.
The report noted that students and parents usually regard TVET as an inferior educational pathway or a “dead end”, when the survey instead showed that young job seekers and young workers view TVET as the most useful qualification in getting a good job.
However, the report also showed that there is a significant wage differential between TVET graduates and those with other types of hard skills. For example, the maximum salary reported by public sector employers for workers with TVET qualifications is about RM3,000 less than for university graduates and RM500 more than for SPM holders.
The report identified a number of weaknesses in the current TVET system and noted that while the formation of a National Taskforce to reform TVET is promising, it will only succeed if there is a complete structural overhaul to the system.
Among the changes needed, said the report, include necessary strategic coordination, namely bringing the large number of training providers (over 1,000 public and private TVET institutions) under a single effective governance body that can provide quality assurance for skill outputs from the different institutions.
According to the report, there is also a need to prioritise a demand-driven approach by ensuring close industry involvement to realistically relate training to workforce needs, including providing incentives for employers to offer work-based training (WBT).
It said the government’s TVET taskforce should establish relevant and reliable competency standards and qualifications framework for better matching and to facilitate entry of TVET graduates into universities. It should also focus on raising the status of TVET, including through gender-sensitive labour market information and career guidance, including introducing role models.
A review of salary differentials between TVET graduates and those from other educational streams could also shed light on the issues that need to be addressed, it said.
The report said the experience of European Union countries highlighted three success factors for TVET — governance, quality and partnerships.
Involving national social partners, said the report, is necessary to ensure that TVET remains responsive. Their involvement is essential for identifying future skill requirements so that the development of skills keeps pace with labour market needs.
It noted that, in successful systems, TVET schools operate in networks with local businesses.