By A. Jeyaraj, Ivana Qartika & Afiqah Rafael

Sixty-five per cent of children entering primary school will end up in jobs that do not yet exist, reveals the World Economic Forum. The result is a proliferation of new, non-traditional education options.

Yet too often, degrees are still thought of as lifelong stamps of professional competency and parents still push their children to acquire degrees.

We need new routes to success and hope. Parents need to know that more and more companies no longer require a degree, including tech giants like Apple, IBM and Google. "Increasingly," Glassdoor reported, "there are many companies offering well-paying jobs to those with non-traditional education or a high-school diploma."

Technological advancements will be increasing in the future and while parents may wish to have their offspring lead the innovations with high academic qualifications, what they are forgetting is that no matter what new inventions come into the world, they all require maintenance and servicing and vocational studies provide exactly that and these vocational skills will be in high demand in the future.

Technical and vocational education to be given importance

The government too is promoting and emphasising the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The perception that TVET is only for students who do not excel in their studies has completely changed today. TVET is relevant as it involves hands-on job training and provides knowledge and skills for employment. We need highly skilled workers.

It has often been noted that students and their parents regard TVET as an inferior educational pathway, 'dead-end' and for the academically challenged. However, young job seekers and workers consider TVET as a useful qualification for getting a good job.

Technical and vocational education must be given the same importance as mainstream education. Create more career pathways and more opportunities for TVET students to further improve themselves. We need both evergreen careers like doctors, academia and other professionals and a well-trained technical workforce to propel the country to developed status.

Free Vocational Training

Ipoh Echo visited a number of institutions that offer free vocational skills training courses for all Malaysians. The students pay incidental costs for food and transport. The staff in a number of institutions said that they have difficulty in recruiting students and they organise roadshows and give talks in school. Some of the courses are not conducted due to lack of students.

The workshops are well equipped and some of the machinery used are the same as those used in the relevant industries. The training given is based on the needs of the industries and students can quickly assimilate into the workforce. There is no problem of getting jobs after completion of courses or students can start their own business.

The certificates issued by the institutions are recognised by the government.

Perak Entrepreneur & Skills Development Centre (PESDC)

PESDC was set up in 1993 to provide a total learning solution for the industries and acts as a platform to facilitate the promotion of Technical and Management Skills for occupational competence. The centre has been approved by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) under the Ministry of Human Resources as an Approved Training Provider.

PESDC provides six months to one-year training for PT3 and SPM students as well as for diploma graduates. It also conducts upgrading and re-skilling courses.

The courses provided are on Automation, Welding, Automotive, Polymer, Machining, Optics & Optoelectronics, Contemporary Broadband, Tooling Design and Safety and Health.

Visvanathan a/l Paraniveloo, Manager, Admin & IT informed that the courses are offered free and hostel cost is subsidised and students have to provide their own transportation and pay for their food. About 200 students are attending courses.

Address: PESDC Training Complex, Jalan Johan 2/2, Kawasan Perindustrian Pengkalan 2, 31550 Pusing. Tel: 05 366 8869.

Institut Latihan Perindustrian Ipoh (ILP)

ILP offers full-time and part-time courses for students who have completed SPM. The courses are for two years and students can attend certificate or diploma courses.

The courses offered are Electrical Technology, Welding, Fabrication of Steel Structure, AutoCAD, Air-condition Servicing, Foundry Technology and Ceramic Technology.

The students are given a monthly allowance of RM100. They get free accommodation and lunch. The only thing the students pay for is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is a one-time payment.

Currently, there are about 500 students and there are two intakes. For January intake students should apply through Jabatan Tenaga Manusia (JTM) and for July intake, students should apply through UPU (Unit Pengambilan Universiti).

Companies send their workers to the institute to upgrade their skills. People with working experience attend courses to get a certification.

Address: Kawasan Perindustrian Taman Meru, 30020 Jelapang. Tel: 05 527 7777.

 

Kolej Vokasional Lebuh Cator (KVLC)

KVLC offers certificate and diploma courses in civil engineering, welding, business management and industrial machining. Students who have completed PT3 and SPM can apply for the courses.

Presently, there are about 500 students and they only pay a subscription to the Parents Teacher Association. There is hostel accommodation for 200 students and preference is given to students from the B40 group. Students pay a nominal sum of RM1 per day.

After completion about 70% of students join the job market, 20% continue further studies and 10% set up their own business.

Address: Kolej Vokasional Lebuh Cator, 30450 Ipoh. Tel: 05 254 9151.

 

Kolej Vokasional Ipoh (KVI)

KVI was opened in 1973 and offers certificate and diploma courses in Construction Technology, Air Conditioning, Banking, Marketing and Computer System Network. Students who have completed PT3 and SPM can apply for certificate and diploma courses. Students are issued the Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM) which is nationally recognised by the government.

Currently, 360 students are pursuing their studies here. Hostel accommodation is free, but students have to pay for their food.

Address: Persiaran Brash, 31400 Ipoh Tel: 05 547 7405.

 

Perak Human Capital Development Centre (PHCDC)

PHCDC provides courses in Automotive Technology and Automation at their centre in Meru Raya. Aziratul Famieza, Training & Development Executive, said that the centre was opened in 2017 and is not well known and they conduct roadshows to recruit students. Courses are conducted when they have an adequate number of students.

They admit students who are between 16 to 45 years. The courses last between 6 months and one year. Except for Automation Level 3, the other courses are free.

Address: PT228322, Bandar Meru Raya, Off Jalan Jelapang, 30029 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 525 1472.

 

GIATMARA, Tambun

GIATMARA was set up in 1986 and has a centre in every parliamentary constituency and each centre offers different courses.

The centre in Tambun offers courses in Motorcycle Maintenance, Building Technology and Electrical Wiring. The courses are for a duration of six months to one year. PT3 and SPM students can apply.

About 20 motorcycles with logo MOBILEPRENEUR were parked along the corridor; these would be given to graduate students so that they can go to the site and do maintenance work. There are 40 students in the centre.

GIATMARA offers 66 courses in 24 centres in Perak.

Address: Lot 157835, Mile 7½ Jalan Tambun. Tel: 05 549 9582.

 

Dr Camille Koppen, who resides sporadically with her mother in Ipoh, is CEO and founder of Brightwings and teaches future skills to students (including at Oxford University) and global organisations.

"The rate at which companies are adopting AI (artificial intelligence) and automation technologies are accelerating, and technology is very much already making changes to how we work and the types of skills and roles that companies are now recruiting for. Most large global companies are already at least a few years into their journey of adopting AI – they are very much in the mindset that they need to innovate and continuously adapt in order to survive. We need to do the same for our children.

"To equip our children for the careers of the future, the best areas to focus on are STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), social and emotional skills (e.g., advanced communication, continuous learning, leadership) and creativity. Those are the skills that will be most in demand. Furthermore, when looking at career paths, you need to look at the trends - certain types of jobs, even those which were once viewed as being highly-skilled jobs, are at high risk of automation in the near future (for example, roles such as insurance underwriters, accountants, paralegals)."

 

Our Perspective

Most of the craftsmen who do repair works in our houses learned the trade by being an apprentice to a skilled worker. We should offer short-term courses for welders, plumbers, electricians, technicians, landscape artists and carpenters so that they can do their jobs professionally. Practising craftsmen should be retrained to become professional in their job. The tradesmen should be trained to enable them to carry out repair works in houses and become self-employed. We can also train goldsmiths, cobblers, tailors and other skills where people work with their hands. We need handymen who can carry out small repairs in our houses professionally. They are in short supply and difficult to find these days.

It was noticed that many of the instructors do not speak English and instructions are in Malay. The students should be taught Basic English including Conversational English. The manuals of the equipment and machinery they work with are in English and the craftsmen who operate them should know English to read and understand the operating procedures, especially safety features.

With Industrial Revolution 4.0 approaching fast we should produce workers who are qualified to face it.

 

Success Stories

Nurul Ain Ainurizam, 23, is an ex-vocational school student of Sekolah Menengah Teknik Ipoh, Persiaran Brash. Her parents encouraged her to pursue her studies in the vocational field and were the first ones to introduce her to it. They were the ones who told her about the vocational school or "technic school" as she calls it.

"It was great", she added and continued to speak about the freedom she gained from living inside a hostel. "My school encouraged us to be very proactive in involving ourselves with co-curricular activities. Everyone was allowed to join everything as there were no restrictions. Thus, by the end of the school year, we all had many different certificates."

She also included how it was compulsory for the students who took commerce to take up Chemistry, and Physics. "Although it was difficult, I had a ball," Ain commented. "My school was filled with different kinds of engineering students who studied mechanical, electrical and civil engineering. It was a great feeling looking at the amount of potential that my school had to offer to society. I felt very proud to be a vocational school student. I still am."

Ain currently works as a sales representative for Movie Animation and Park Studios (MAPS). In school, she took accountancy and the overall knowledge gained in vocational school has benefited her current career and in her everyday life. She had experience doing her internship in Perak Water Board. She also runs an online business selling foods such as spaghetti, kebabs and ice-cream. "It is easy for me to handle the transactions and what not as I know how to handle money skillfully."

Muhammad Danial, 22, who achieved 8As for his Lower Secondary Evaluation (PMR) said he initially rejected the idea of entering a vocational school because of the perception that it is only for students with low academic performance. His perception has changed upon studying mechatronics in Kangar Vocational School, he said, "the courses are very comprehensive, vocational schools (or colleges) will pay a sum of money to send their students to other industries for practicals if they lack in machinery." He added, "there are many courses available, from business management to cosmetology."

When asked what are the probability of employment for a vocational college graduate, he replied, "the chances of being employed are high in my personal opinion, my coursemates and I didn’t have trouble finding a placement for our internship." He mentioned that his father, Harith Rahman, a Slim River Vocational High School teacher, suggested that he pursue his studies in Kangar because he saw the potential of studying there. "My father is a vocational college alumnus and now an educator there, he knows what’s better for me," explained Danial who is currently undergoing his internship at an industry near Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

Another Sekolah Menengah Teknik Ipoh Persiaran Brash alumnus is Nurul Nadia Binti Zaharon. Nadia said her school provided the students with sufficient knowledge for her university undertakings. "I wasn’t encouraged by anyone I knew to pursue engineering. I took the opportunity myself in doing research about the school and the courses they offered. I set my mind to believe that women were just as powerful as men in pursuing a career in the engineering field" mentioned the civil engineering student. "I can solve any problem relating to my fundamental knowledge and previous practices in the engineering field such as the construction of bridges. I have experience in the construction process of bridges in Sungai Raja, Kampung Kepayang, Simpang Pulai from its preliminary works," she explained. She has proficiency in using multiple software to solve and design buildings. She now studies Civil Engineering in UTHM.

So for parents out there facing tough decisions for their children’s future, consider vocational training.