Malaysia fails to meet 70 per cent TVET graduate employment target

This target should have been achieved five years ago, but it did not happen, says expert.

23 Apr 2024 02:05pm
Photo for illustration purposes only. - BERNAMA FILE PIX
Photo for illustration purposes only. - BERNAMA FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia needs to produce at least 70 per cent of high-tech graduates through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in the next five years to meet industry demands.

Unitar International University Vice-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar said this target should have been achieved five years ago, but it did not happen.

According to experts in various engineering fields, including civil engineering, flood management, hydrology and environment, the country currently only recorded about 20 per cent of high-tech TVET graduates through various programmes.

He added that among the increasingly demanded high-tech skilled workforce were artificial intelligence (AI), electric vehicles and welding.

"In Malaysia, we are still enthusiastic about universities and some universities are too focused on research.

"It's not wrong, actually, but it is enough to establish certain universities that focus on these specific fields rather than all following the same path.

"[I am] not denying that obtaining a degree is also important, but the demand for it is not that high.

"So, we need to realise that the world has changed now, where the current need is more towards TVET and skills," he told Sinar.

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Sahol who is also the former Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) vice-chancellor added that the government's move to enact a special salary act for these graduates with a target salary higher than the minimum wage of RM4,000 per month can also attract more participation.

In February, Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz proposed that the government allow foreign graduates from local higher education institutions to work temporarily in the country in specific fields, such as the high-tech sector, because local graduates were insufficient.

For example, Tengku Zafrul said the electrical and electronic industry required 50,000 engineers, but local higher education institutions only produced 5,000 graduates per year.

Meanwhile, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Polytechnic, Kedah director Rosli Idris said the government needed to provide a larger allocation for equipment and replace existing teaching and learning aids (PdP) as a measure to empower TVET institutions, especially high-tech courses.

"Air conditioning maintenance, laboratory or workshop equipment and other related PdP facilities need to be given priority so that the learning environment in TVET institutions is more conducive and effective," he said.

He added that TVET institutions, especially polytechnics and community colleges were always prepared with high-tech courses, including sending lecturers and instructors to undergo high-skill courses required by the industry.

Between 2018 and 2023, Malaysia graduated 256,901 students from 299 TVET programmes offered by 12 ministries and government agencies.

Among them, 71,825 graduates from public universities had a 69.4 per cent employment rate, with 14.9 per cent continuing their studies, 3.1 per cent undergoing skill improvement courses and 4.3 per cent awaiting job placements.

Polytechnic TVET graduates, totaling 139,579, had a 76.2 per cent employment rate, with 19.1 per cent continuing studies, 0.4 per cent undergoing skill courses, and 1.5 per cent awaiting jobs.

Community College TVET graduates, totaling 45,497, showed a 74.8 per cent employment rate, with 22.3 per cent continuing studies, 0.2 per cent undergoing skill courses and 0.4 per cent awaiting jobs.

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