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As jobless grad numbers climb, vocational centres shine

The Malaysian Insight (online), 19 October 2017 - AS the problem of jobless university graduates persists, vocational training institutes are losing the stigma they once had as a recourse for underachievers.

Take Norhazwa Abu Bakar whose daughter studied animation at the Giatmara training institute, then continued her diploma in digital media at Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara (KKTM) for another three years.

“Not all students excel academically but they may be more interested in other things and can do better in those areas. It’s unfair to call those at vocational school ‘stupid’,” said the 45-year-old mother of Wan Nur Mellisa Meor Idris.

Norhazwa said she did not force her daughter to continue her diploma at a university upon seeing that Nur Mellisa was more inclined towards the arts.

She felt her daughter was better off at a vocational training centre where 70% of the courses are practical and theory is only 30%.

“Let them start from the bottom, from the certificate stage. And then they move to the next stage,” she said.

Unemployed grads

In August, Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh said nearly 55,000 or some 22% of 236,137 graduates were jobless within six months upon completing their undergraduate degrees. The figure includes graduates from both public universities and private colleges.

Unemployment was high among graduates in business administration, applied science, resource management, accounting, literature and social sciences.

Idris also said technical and vocational education and training (TVET) graduates were more marketable compared with graduates from “traditional” academic programmes.

The marketability of TVET graduates increased from 7% to 8% (2015 to 2016), compared with degree-holders, which was only 2% to 3%, he said.

Mechanic Raja Mohd Shafie Raja Kumaridin, 24, said he was hopeful that his vocational training in automotive vehicles would help him start his own workshop one day.

He sees vocational training as a stepping stone. Some of his peers from the Institute Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN) where he went after Form Five now own workshops while others furthered their studies to earn bachelor’s degrees and became teachers.

But despite the hopeful prospects, Shafie said he had to face his parents’ disapproval when he decided to study at the certificate level.

“I had applied to UiTM, but I chose to go to IKBN. My parents said I would regret it. But I don’t. When I see my (degree-holding friends) unemployed, I don’t think my skills training will go to waste,” said Shafie who has taken up another certificate in motor sports.

Another vocational institute trainee, Melissa, said some friends kept questioning her decision not to go to university after completing secondary school.

“People assume those who enter training institutes are ‘slow’. My SPM were average and I was rejected when I applied to UiTM,” said the 22-year-old graphic designer at an advertising agency who scored 2As, 3Bs and 3Cs in the SPM.

“I am grateful that I am not jobless and maybe it is because I went to a training institute. I received a job offer from an advertising agency (not where she interned) three days after I was done with my internship, with a fresh graduate’s salary,” she said.

She had asked her employer why her salary was equivalent to that of a bachelor degree holder’s and was told that it was because she was able to do graphic work with minimum guidance.

Not tied to PTPTN loans

Vocational trainees said another plus is not being indebted to the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), unlike their counterparts who took loans to fund their degree courses.

“I thought if I studied at UiTM, I might have to use a lot of money and would have to take loans from PTPTN. At IKBN, however, the overall fee did not reach RM1,000 and I even get a monthly allowance of about RM200,” said Shafie.

The problem of unemployed graduates has worsened PTPTN’s accumulated losses, with unpaid loans about RM8.5 billion in 2015. The repayment rate was only 46.6%.

Hazwa said schools should not stigmatise students who were not academic performers and instead expose them to other educational options.

“Schools have KPI (key performance indicators) to meet. They want excellent students. But schools should also guide students on what to do based on their SPM results.

“I am aware about this but what about parents in rural areas? They do not have exposure to information about vocational training. Their kids might be interested in animation but (they are not exposed to it).”

Parents should not force their children to study in fields they are not interested in, adding that “don’t do this just to save the parents’ face.” – October 19, 2017.

 

Source: http://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/19115/

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