When it comes to education, most Malaysians still prefer the academic pathway. From young, we’ve been told to aspire to become lawyers, doctors, engineers and the likes, and many pass on such thinking to their own children. Technical and vocational education training (TVET) is often shunned.
The thinking is that TVET is for those who are not so “smart”, while those with better grades should aim to get into universities and if possible, pick up one of the professions above. Those who end up in the TVET pathway, will likely end up as a blue-collar worker, earning less than those who took the academic pathway – or so the thinking goes.
Such thinking is flawed. In many developed countries, equal, if not more importance is placed on TVET, compared with the non-TVET stream. Germany, a country known for its engineering prowess, promotes TVET among its students from young. In countries like Australia, the electricians, plumbers and construction workers do not suffer from social stigma, like they do in many Asian countries. In fact, many of these blue-collar workers earn more than their white-collar counterparts.
In this age where terms like “artificial intelligence”, “Industrial 4.0” and “machine learning” have crept into everyday vocabulary, having technical proficiency has become even more important. It is time we relook at our educational priorities and discard outdated mindsets. TVET is growing in importance and demand for these graduates may outstrip those who take the “conventional” educational path.
This is why SEGi University & Colleges has recently allocated several million ringgit under its Skills Academic Grant to help needy students master technical and vocational skills, in the hope of landing better job prospects. It is also to help meet the country’s huge demand for skilled, technical workers as we embrace Industrial Revolution 4.0.
TVET should not be regarded as second-class