Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is once again in the spotlight as the government ramps up efforts to empower youth and address unemployment among the group.
TVET offers students a wide range of career opportunities in today's highly competitive job market. The continuous effort to strengthen TVET is meant to attract Malaysian youth, especially those who have completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and are not interested in furthering their studies.
Under Budget 2023, the government has reinforced its commitment to the TVET sector through several initiatives and allocations. The TVET empowerment agenda is placed under seven key ministries with a total allocation of RM6.7 billion.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, National Association of Skilled Workers secretary-general Mohammad Rizan Hassan said that the most significant benefit in the budget is the empowerment of public-private partnerships, which allows industries to lead TVET initiatives.
This approach not only benefits the youth, who will undergo the latest technological training, but also helps industries reduce their reliance on foreign labour.
However, Rizan said the government needs to provide a clear framework and adequate guidelines to ensure that industry-led TVET has a significant impact.
The budget also emphasises the issues faced by the labour market, especially TVET graduates, such as remuneration that does not commensurate with qualifications, and highlights the importance of producing TVET graduates who can meet the needs of the industry.
Data showed that 90% of TVET graduates have managed to secure jobs, but 90% of them only earned around RM2,000. To address this problem, the government plans to follow in the footsteps of the Penang state government, which has established collaborations with the electrical and electronics industries to provide TVET graduates with jobs that pay fairly.
"The government aims to replicate this model, involving federal TVET institutions with the target of 50 companies, especially GLCs (government-linked companies).
"These leading companies will take over part or full operations of TVET institutions such as community colleges, industrial training institutes, and national youth skills institutes to provide training programmes that meet their needs," Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the finance minister, announced.
Rizan also urged all parties to ensure that the momentum for uplifting the value of TVET remains consistent, especially since SPM leavers are actively seeking institutions to continue their studies.
He said that synergistic collaboration between the government, industries, schools, and NGOs is essential to ensuring effective dissemination at the grassroots level.
The budget also outlined efforts to strengthen industrial cooperation, with the National Dual Training System receiving an allocation of RM50 million to benefit over 8,000 trainees. Additionally, the Academy in Factory programme will be implemented to provide training to more than 50,000 trainees working in factories.
To encourage the private sector to offer higher and more equitable wages to employees, Socso provides incentives to employers who hire graduates, especially those from TVET, with an additional monthly payment of RM600 for three months, as outlined in the budget.
"With various incentives under Socso, young individuals should have no reason not to pursue TVET courses," Rizan added. "They receive not only government but also industry support."
Rizan said that short-term TVET courses, lasting between one and three months, should be facilitated in collaboration with industries.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Izzad Fikri Hamdan acknowledged the benefits of a TVET qualification, saying it has provided him with a stable career direction.
He shared that his TVET experience and qualifications have enabled him to secure a job as an MRT technician with Prasarana, where he has been employed for four years now.
"In a modern era heavily reliant on advanced technology, the skills acquired through TVET are highly valuable and allow me to remain competitive in a job market that emphasises technical skills," he told MalaysiaNow.
Izzad encouraged the public, especially the youth, to consider pursuing a TVET qualification, as the skills acquired through the programme can open up an array of career opportunities and ensure jobs with guaranteed income.
"I advise those interested in skill-based fields to join TVET as it will be very beneficial in the future. The technologically advancing world of work and learning will drive high demand for qualifications from this programme in the workforce.
"Even now, many companies are keen to hire TVET students due to their skills and ability to carry out tasks that require technical proficiencies," added Izzad, who participated in TVET between 2015 and 2019.