EVEN as a teenager, Siti Kalyisyah Md Zin knew she wanted to become a pastry chef when she finished school.
Siti Kalyisyah’s passion was further fuelled by her mother’s encouragement to sign up for a course in pastry-making with the Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN), after collecting her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results.
Now, her next big plan is to sell cupcakes online, which has become a popular business among young adults nowadays.
“The great thing about vocational training is that it’s practical and can help one to literally go out and start working immediately.
“With the government’s announcement to make vocational training a popular choice of studies, I hope society recognises our talents because we all are good at different things,” said Siti Kalyisyah, 22, who is now pursuing Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM) Level 3.
The Government has vowed to transform the technical education and vocational training (TEVT) sector in a move to make TEVT more appealing to school leavers.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said media campaigns, emphasising the career prospects and advantages of a TEVT qualification, would be carried out regularly in hopes of lifting the stigma of TEVT among the society.
Other plans include building an effective teaching force, improving the delivery system and ensuring that the TEVT curriculum is in line with the industry’s needs.
“TEVT can help contribute to the human capital development and country’s vision of becoming a high-income society,” he said at the launch of SkillsMalaysia in Putrajaya recently.
Under the SkillsMalaysia campaign, a series of road shows will be held around the country. The programmes include the Higher Education Ministry TEVT Carnival, StudyMalaysia Education Fair and the Mara Education Carnival where students and parents could obtain information on TEVT.
SkillsMalaysia is an entry-point project (EPP) under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Jan 11.
Lifting the stigma
The battle to remove the social stigma is going to be anything but easy, as TEVT has long been associated with working class labourers.
Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara Alor Gajah lecturer Noraishah Hashim said it would be unfair to say TEVT was for those who were poor in academic studies.
“TEVT shouldn’t be seen as a second choice for those who are not academically inclined. Students who come to us are just as bright,” she said.
However, she said the perception of TEVT has changed gradually over the past two years.
“Some parents, who are professionals, have come forward to enquire about our courses. That shows that they recognise TEVT as an option for their children,” she said.
Beauty therapy trainer Khairunnisa Hamdan agreed, saying that the career options were wide.
“There are many job opportunities for those who opt for TEVT. In the beauty industry, for example, a lot of people want to look good so there is definitely a market for hairstylists. I have a student who already has a business degree and comes for our make-up course,” said the trainer who is attached to Giatmara Bandar Tun Razak, an agency under the Rural Development Ministry,
Siti Kalyisyah said everyone stood an equal chance to succeed in life.
“I believe in the importance of being enterprising. By identifying your strengths, you can do well in life too,” she said.
Giatmara beauty therapy student Rica Razali, 22, said it was high time for the Government to spearhead the effort in changing perception of TEVT.
“We can attract more students to take up TEVT while current students like myself can move forward and not be looked down upon,” she said.
School counsellors are also expected to play a role in promoting and helping students choose TEVT programmes to pursue.
While in Copenhagen, Denmark recently, Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister said the Government would look towards its European counterparts for expertise and experience in a move to boost TEVT training in Malaysia.
There could be tie-ups with European institutions involving the exchange of teaching staff, students and curriculum, he said.
At the moment, Muhyiddin said, only 10 percent of Malaysian students were enrolled in local TEVT institutions. The Government hoped to raise the number to 20 percent over the next five years.
However, he said, the percentage is still low compared with Indonesia which has achieved the 40 percent mark while Thailand and Singapore were not far behind.
The revamp would result in the rebranding of vocational schools into vocational colleges.
Muhyiddin said a clearer education pathway would also be set where TEVT institutions could offer diploma and higher diploma courses. He also encouraged the private sector to establish technical institutions to ease the Government’s capital expenditure.
The Government’s Polytechnic Transformation Programme last year saw polytechnics phasing out non-diploma programmes and the creation of premier polytechnics.
Source:The STAR | Education | Home by TAN EE LOO firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday June 5, 2011