Context: In 2016, the youth unemployment rate in Malaysia reached 12.1 per cent, which is more than three times higher than the national unemployment rate of 3.3 per cent. Despite its increasingly educated workforce, the country largely relies on low and mid-skilled workers in low-value added activities that emphasize cost-efficiency and depend on cheap labour. As such, Malaysia continues to face the challenge of attracting high quality investments that result in higher paying and higher skilled jobs in the labour market. To address this, the most recent national roadmap, the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, highlights the development of a skilled local workforce as one of the six key strategic thrusts that will help the country achieve a successful economic transformation to a developed nation.
Implementation of programme/ initiative: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes in Malaysia are offered at certificate, diploma and degree levels from institutions under federal ministries, state skills development centres and private accredited providers. Several TVET upper-secondary vocational schools were initially introduced during the First Malaysian Plan period (1965-1970). The programmes later expanded to technical education and skills training provided by Industrial Training institutes (ITI), Polytechnics, National Youth Development Corps (NYDC) and the Center for Instructor and Advanced Skill Training (CIAST).
At present, there are more than 1,200 TVET institutes across the country, and around 45.0 per cent of these institutes are public. In 2016, the Malaysian Government allocated a budget of MYR 4.8 billion or around US$ 1.1 billion to 545 TVET public institutions.
Main challenges: The four main challenges of TVET programmes in Malaysia are uncoordinated governance, fragmented delivery, a lack of recognition for technologists, and competency gaps among instructors. These challenges require harmonizing and consolidating the current system of operations to reduce fragmentation among numerous private and public stakeholders, as well as industry-led interventions to ensure that the supply of TVET graduates meet their requirements. One of the main recommendations is to establish a single system for accreditation to facilitate better coordination and monitoring of the TVET system.
Results achieved: The big shift of TVET programmes in Malaysia has been the conversion of the existing 72 vocational schools and 8 technical schools into vocational colleges. From 2011 to 2014, a total of 19,747 students were enrolled in these institutions, with the first batch of 2,700 students graduating in 2016. In terms of training, TVET has the National Dual Training System (NDTS), which is an apprenticeship system that integrates both training procedures in training centres and hands-on training in actual environment. It has trained 63,000 apprentices since its introduction in 2004, and is currently connected with 1,800 companies.
In 2012, some 101,450 certificates, including diplomas and advanced diplomas, were awarded to successful candidates. The enrolment of youth in the TVET programmes rose to around 200,000 in 2015, and of this amount around 40.0 per cent were early school leavers.
Moving Forward: The Malaysian Government aims to increase the proportion of skilled workers in the workforce from 25 to 35 per cent by 2020. Furthermore, the initiatives under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan are projected to create approximately 1.5 million new jobs by 2020, of which 60.0 per cent or around 900,000 jobs will require TVET-related skills.
In order to have effective and efficient TVET programmes, it is suggested in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan that the Government would need to strengthen the management of the programmes through streamlining the national qualification framework and harmonizing the rating system across public and private institutions. The plan also recommends the Government to enable industries to lead on curriculum development so that the supply of students matches the demand of industries. In addition, it suggests that TVET enhances its branding to be able to represent as an attractive career pathway.
Replicability: Relevant, well administered TVET programmes enhance youth’s skillset and make the transition from school to work smoother. Malaysia’s experience indicates several key factors, among others, are important to ensuring high quality TVET, namely adequate funding, coordination between stakeholders, a streamlined accreditation system and the incorporation of hands-on learning. Part of the challenge is strengthening TVET’s reputation, which helps increase political will (and thus funding), attracts more students and makes TVET certificates more valuable in the eyes of employers. Diligent monitoring and evaluation not only improves programmes but also adds legitimacy by providing proven results.
Presentation prepared by Dr. Nurul Amin Bin Badrul for the Asia Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA) 2017
Date: May 17, 2017