Technical and vocational training and education (TVET) is a dedicated route to develop secondary school leavers into a highly skilled and future-ready workforce.
It is a misconception to think that TVET is only for the academically weak or those with low career prospects. In reality, TVET graduates have a high rate of employability that commands an attractive salary.
Based on the 11th Malaysia Plan, there is a target to increase skilled workers from 28 per cent to 35 per cent, and 60 per cent of future jobs are expected to require technical and vocational skills.
With options from marine engineering to hospitality and beauty services, students can earn the Malaysian Skills Certification System through assessment and training.
The system starts with the Malaysian Skills Certificate (Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia or SKM Levels 1 to 3), followed by the Diploma in Skills Malaysia (Diploma Kemahiran Malaysia, or DKM) and Advanced Diploma in Skills Malaysia (DLKM).
Students can pursue professional licences, international competency examinations or obtain a bachelor’s degree at four universities under the Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN).
TVET programmes are offered by the Education Ministry, Youth and Sports Ministry and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).
Students can apply via the Central University Admission Unit to enrol in polytechnics and community colleges.
There are three types of polytechnics, namely premier (a route to degree), conventional (based on regional and national needs) and METro (services industry).
The new Malaysian Polytechnic Diploma Curriculum equips students with vital competencies to meet local and global demand.
Industry 4.0-related tools, namely cybersecurity, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous robotics, system integration, cloud-computing and data analytics are introduced in the engineering, technology, hospitality and business courses.
The Youth and Sports Ministry offers TVET programmes at its 22 National Youth Skills Institutes (IKBN) and National Advanced Youth Vocational Institutes nationwide.
Vocational training officer Muhd Mahzuz ‘Afif Mahayuddin said: “Based on the National Policy on Industry 4.0, the country requires more independent and highly-skilled workers, who will increase the nation’s productivity.”
The programmes include aircraft maintenance, automotive technology and textile technology, which run between 18 and 36 months.
“Perseverance and continuous upskilling can take you to higher professional levels, such as being certified by the Malaysia Board of Technologists,” said Mahzuz, who is attached to IKBN Pekan in Pahang.
Mara offers certificate and diploma programmes in 12 clusters of its Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara (KKTM), Mara-Japan Industrial Institute and Mara Skills Institutes.
To continue to a degree, students can enrol in Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) — Mara’s entrepreneurial technical university.
Besides government institutes, there are also private and industry-led TVET programmes, such as the Auto Global Manufacturing Skill Programme (AGMSP) by New Hoong Fatt Holdings Bhd.
NHF managing director Chin Jit Sin said: “It is a fully sponsored apprenticeship programme, preparing students with theoretical learning and technical experience for entry into the Malaysian Meister Programme (MMP) or to become a manufacturing specialist.”
TVET graduates have good career opportunities locally and abroad.
Having excelled in his aircraft composite repair certificate (SKM Level 3) at IKBN Pekan, Anwar Mohamad, 21, is working as a junior aircraft technician at a multinational company.
“Since I’m more inclined towards technical skills than academics, my parents encouraged me to enter IKBN.
“This course is great for those interested in the aviation industry as I was trained in aircraft repair, air legislation and flight theories.
“After the internship, I was hired as a staff member. Soon after, I was given the opportunity to attend an Airbus A350 radome repair course at the Airbus Training Centre in Blagnac, Toulouse, France, for 10 days.”
Muhammad Shabil Ikhwan Shahar, 26, completed SKM Level 3 in gas pipeline fabrication at IKBN Pekan before becoming a non-destructive testing (NDT) specialist.
“I chose this programme because of the worldwide career prospect. The course introduced me to advanced NDT technologies, preparing me for the industry.”
Funded by his company, he obtained his professional licences at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering in Sheffield, the United Kingdom.
“I attained the Personnel Certification in NDT (PCN) Level 2 in phased array ultrasonic testing, full ultrasonic testing and penetrant testing.”
Sabah Tourism Management diploma student Shawn Esquerra, 19, applied to enter Polytechnic Tawau due to his interest in tourism.
“The polytechnic provides me with training and knowledge in the real industry.
“I’m sure that I’m on the right path to gain the right skills to build a career in tourism.
“After obtaining my diploma, I hope to pursue my degree in the same field and study abroad.”
MMP in mechatronics for manufacturing student Muhammad Raziq Ahmad Mukromin, 22, said: “While the programme has academic components, it is focused on technical skills. I learnt about programmable logic controller automation, electrical motor control and many more high technology subjects. I also gained soft skills in communication and teamwork.
“Through AGMSP and MMP, I can earn a salary while increasing my knowledge and technical abilities.
“I see it as an opportunity to continue my studies and directly put it into practice. It also lifted the burden of supporting me from my parents’ shoulders.”
Wan Shamimi Wan Ismail, 23, completed a diploma in architecture at KKTM Pasir Mas, Kelantan, before pursuing a degree at UniKL.
“The diploma programme focused on academic theories and exposed us to hands-on skills, such as drawing and technical work. Mara also helps students financially with a monthly allowance.”