PUTRAJAYA: MORE than 90,000 students are expected to enrol in vocational colleges by 2020 under the under the Education Ministry's vocational education transformation programme.
The ministry's technical and vocational education division director, Ahmad Tajudin Jab said the students would be moulded to become highly-skilled workers in a higher institution environment.
He said the goal is to create workers that are competent and work-ready, and prepare them to face the challenges of the working world.
"It is not like a school, where we produce students. The college is aimed to create a capable workforce for the country," he said.
Tajudin said the transformation programme is part of the National Education Blueprint 2012 and the 10th Malaysia Plan, which emphasised increasing the number of proficient human resources.
He said the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) will result in nearly one million jobs requiring vocational certificates or diplomas over the next ten years, creating a huge market for students who choose to study in the vocational colleges.
The colleges, which were previously vocational schools, offer the students a chance to experience work in the different industries.
Tajudin said this is done through a number of memoranda of understanding that was established between the colleges and various companies or organisations like the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.
"The companies can provide, among other things, apprenticeship or on-the-job training for the students while the students themselves can find ways to contribute to the company. We are expecting more than 100 more MoUs this year," he said.
He said they expected 70 per cent of their students to start working upon graduation, 20 per cent to further their studies, while ten per cent would start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs.
The colleges offer two types of programmes, a full-time four-year programme where the students would graduate with a Malaysian Vocational Diploma (DVM), and a two-year apprenticeship programme where they would leave with a Malaysia Skills Certificate (SKM) in level two or three.
Tajudin said the students in the four-year programme would undergo training for six months and classes, while the two-year programme would involve 70 per cent of their time spent in industries while the rest is spent studying basic subjects such as Bahasa Malaysia, History and Mathematics.
There are 12 areas and 53 courses offered nationwide, he said, and currently 31 courses are available while the rest would be implemented in phases.
Among the subjects in the syllabus are employability skills, production-based education, financial management, third languages and co-curriculum that would be equivalent to the National Service Training Programme (PLKN).
Tajudin said for parents who are worried that their children would not have the standard Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia qualification, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) has already acknowledged their grading system.
"The colleges implemented the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) system, and a minimum of 2 CGPA is equivalent to three credits in SPM.
"We also offer the same content for our Bahasa Malaysia subject, therefore the Examinations Board would acknowledge the CGPA for the subjects and find the exact credits in SPM that is akin to it," he said.
The college atmosphere would also allow the students to feel more independent, and grow more matured to equip them with the necessary mindset for work, he said.
"Their classes and training start from 8am to 5pm, but we do give them free time in between and even installed leisure rooms with dartboards and games in them," he said.
He said they have also established the Malaysian Board of Technologists (MBOT) to recognise and accredit technologists, and also recognised technicians as a profession.
AISYAH SULAIMAN | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times General 14/04/2013