In the current poll on my blogsite, I invite my readers to name their academic qualification achieved when entering the workforce (you can vote here): Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or lower; Diploma; Undergraduate degree; and Postgraduate degree.
Early results suggest that most respondents possess an SPM or lower, with those holding an undergraduate degree emerging in second place. Although this sample is not completely representative of the population, it has somewhat mirrored by the Statistics Department findings, showing that 77 percent of the Malaysian working population (or 60 percent of the entire nation) entered the workforce with up to SPM qualifications or equivalent in 2007 (see NEAC’s NEM for Malaysia report).
This is a considerable statistic that suggests a great opportunity to me: an opportunity to motivate and develop our workers further to spur the growth that we need. I’m proud of our workforce but, as I cautioned when introducing the New Economic Model, having one largely equipped with an SPM Certificate alone is not in line with our aspirations to become a high-income economy.
The solution, as I see it, must be a reskilled labour force, so that all Malaysians (and not just school leavers) are armed with the right knowledge to meet employers’ needs. This can be achieved through providing on-the-job training and offering continuing education programmes.
Employers also have a responsibility towards this solution. I would like to see more companies offer apprenticeship programmes that can provide ‘shop-floor training’ for fresh graduates as well as employees. There must be a conscientious effort within the business community to upscale all aspects of operations and management, including the development of a value-added workforce. By doing so, as a nation, we will be able to generate higher-quality output using higher-skilled local human resources, in line with our goal to become a high-income nation.
Education must not end at school or university, therefore, but persist throughout one’s working life, and I would strongly encourage all my working-age readers to take up opportunities for ongoing self-development. As a rule of thumb, I would like to urge those who were unfortunate not to make the cut into colleges /universities or the equivalent, to continue seeking knowledge. I strongly encourage all Malaysians to find ways to enrol themselves into more practical education channels such as vocational schools and polytechnics. Let us not limit our education level at only SPM certificate level.
Now that I have shared my viewpoint with you, please have your say by submitting a comment. Would the prospect of further training or education generally create enough interest? What would deter you from pursuing continuous professional development?