The TVET option
SIJIL Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers have another avenue when furthering their education — Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.
The Ministry of Higher Education, as outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015-2025, envisions that polytechnics and community colleges will be the premier higher education TVET providers that develop skilled talent to meet the growing and changing demands of industry.
The higher education landscape is now in the midst of changing from a primary focus on university education as the sole pathway to success to one where academic and TVET pathways are equally valued and cultivated.
Datuk Amir Md Noor, director-general of the Department of Community College Education and acting director-general of Department of Polytechnic Education at the ministry, envisages that enrolment in TVET programmes will increase significantly, through extensive partnerships with industry, to ensure supply matches demand.
Polytechnics education, which began in Malaysia with the establishment of the Ungku Omar Polytechnic, Ipoh in 1969, was entrusted to provide technical manpower to cater for the demand for semi-professionals in the engineering, commerce and services sectors.
Community college education, on the other hand, was established in 2001 and aimed at providing vocational-based training programmes to secondary school-leavers and the local community through a lifelong learning approach.
Almost all of the programmes of study in polytechnics are designed to meet the regional and national demand for semi-professionals in the said sectors while the majority of the programmes offered in community colleges are tailored to suit the socio-economy needs of the community.
The distinct difference between programmes run by polytechnics and community colleges is the level of qualification — polytechnics mostly offer diploma courses while community colleges provide certificate programmes.
As of June this year, Malaysian polytechnics will be offering two pre-diploma programmes, five special skills certificate programmes, 63 diploma programmes and eight degree programmes.
“In other words, the target groups for community colleges are quite diverse ranging from school-leavers/drop-outs, displaced workers, communities or any members of the public who need training for work. SPM holders can apply for full-time programmes at the certificate level in community colleges and local community members can enrol in short courses of their interests either during the weekends or weekdays at a nominal fee.”
Amir said as a rule of thumb, school-leavers should be mindful of the following when applying for a programme in either polytechnics or community colleges — interests, unique talents, work attitudes, nature of education and training, career advancement, expected salary and availability of jobs.
“Depending on their SPM results, there are many programmes at both polytechnics and community colleges that they can consider. They should also consider consulting career guidance counsellors at their respective schools on a particular programme in these institutions.”
Amir Md Noor