Im­por­tance of aca­demic and skill-ori­ented train­ing

New Straits Times - - Business - The writer is chief ex­ec­u­tive officer of the Malaysia Au­to­mo­tive In­sti­tute.

A QUICK scan of re­ports on­line shows that in the most ad­vanced coun­tries, the per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion with a bach­e­lor de­gree or higher was be­tween 21 and 47 per cent in 2013.

In­ter­est­ingly, car-pro­duc­ing na­tions such as Ger­many and Italy recorded univer­sity de­gree at­tain­ment at only 28 and 21 per cent, re­spec­tively. Yet, these are na­tions with the most recog­nis­able mar­ques in the world — many as­so­ci­at­ing own­er­ship of their prod­ucts as sym­bols of suc­cess.

While the val­ues of the ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem are un­de­ni­able, the tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs within the coun­tries men­tioned above are not con­tri­bu­tions of grad­u­ates alone.

There are var­i­ous routes to suc­cess, and more im­por­tantly, they are re­quired to en­sure na­tion-build­ing is im­ple­mented suc­cess­fully.

Univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion fo­cuses mostly on deep the­ory and knowl­edge. Those that take this route are ex­pected to master not only fun­da­men­tal con­cepts, but also a wide range of ad­vanced sub­jects that cater holis­ti­cally to a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject.

Due to time lim­i­ta­tions, nat­u­rally there would less em­pha­sis on hands-on tech­ni­cal skills. For ex­am­ple, an en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate may know the math­e­mat­i­cal in­tri­ca­cies of weld­ing, yet strug­gle when han­dling a weld­ing gun. He or she will know what needs to be done, yet can­not be ex­pected to per­form the task at hand.

The job of com­plet­ing this would be for the trained hands of the skilled welder. This per­son would not ex­pect to be “be­stowed” with a univer­sity scroll, but would need cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from a skills train­ing in­sti­tute that would give him the hand, eye and body co­or­di­na­tion as well as stamina to sew sheets of metal to­gether while with­stand­ing im­mense heat and fly­ing sparks.

By now we should have re­alised that both aca­demic and hand­son tal­ent must co-ex­ist to com­plete a job — lead­ing to an ac­tual sales trans­ac­tion of high value.

Un­for­tu­nately, we seem to glo­rify the for­mer, and place less value on the other. It is time to change this per­spec­tive.

By the time this ar­ti­cle is read, 434,535 reg­is­tered SPM can­di­dates would have re­ceived their re­sults.

While we con­grat­u­late those who have done well, it is equally im­por­tant to guide the morale of those who are less for­tu­nate with their re­sults. School ex­ams should no longer be seen as bench­marks of suc­cess, but rather an align­ment of ca­reer op­tions.

No mat­ter the re­sult, it should at worst sig­nal our ca­reer paths. Each in­di­vid­ual has their own strengths and weak­nesses, there­fore be al­lowed to freely fol­low a path that max­imises their strengths.

Most im­por­tantly, we should not al­low our­selves and those around us to kill our spir­its in the face of fail­ure. As men­tioned in the pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, la­bels of fail­ure are only true if the in­di­vid­ual ac­cepts them.

In ad­vanced na­tions, skills are rev­ered and re­ceived equal, and some­times big­ger re­mu­ner­a­tion due to the years spent build­ing and de­vel­op­ing mas­tery in a par­tic­u­lar skill.

These in­di­vid­u­als with skills are known as crafts­men, and not just mere gen­eral work­ers.

As the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try pro­gresses fur­ther, I as­sure you that we will need more or both – aca­demics and skilled prac­ti­tion­ers. Each day, new tech­nolo­gies are cre­ated, with prod­ucts and pro­cesses of much higher com­plex­ity.

In the next part of this se­ries, we will dis­cuss the ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties that cur­rently ex­ist for both aca­dem­i­cally- and skill-ori­ented in­di­vid­u­als.

“It is fine to cel­e­brate suc­cess, but at the same time heed the lessons of fail­ure”.

carpro­duc­ing na­tions such as Ger­many and Italy recorded univer­sity de­gree at­tain­ment at only 28 per cent and 21 per cent, re­spec­tively.

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