WOU has forged a strategic alliance with the Malaysian Board of Technologists (MBOT) and the Association of Professional Technicians and Technologists (APTT) to empower its technology graduates and bolster talent growth, particularly in the state of Sarawak.
The collaboration was formalised at a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Exchange Ceremony during the MBOT Borneo Symposium in Kuching, Sarawak on 11 May 2023. Dean of WOU’s School of Technology and Engineering Science (STE) Assoc Prof Ts Dr Sean Tan Koon Tatt represented the University at the symbolic ceremony officiated by Sarawak Premier, Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
In his opening speech, Abang Johari declared Sarawak’s target to register 10,000 technicians and technologists by 2025 to fulfil the state’s professional talent needs for its technological endeavour.
He said, “High-skilled talents are the backbone to all economies. They are professionals who drive our institutions, keep our factories running smoothly, help farmers produce more yield, ensure the efficiency of our machinery and drive innovation forward.”
He added that technologists and technicians are “often overlooked, resulting in shortage in many crucial industries which hampers our ability to be more competitive and productive”.
The premier called on industry players, education and skills development institutions, and government agencies to work together in promoting and developing technological talents. He said that Sarawak must transform itself to be an innovative and technology-driven economy, if it aims to double its gross domestic product from RM136 billion in 2019 to RM282 billion in 2030 and create an additional 195,000 job opportunities.
“Our vision for Sarawak is to be at the forefront of IR5.0 (the fifth industrial revolution),” he emphasised.
In her welcome remarks, MBOT President, Datuk Ts Ir Dr Siti Hamisah binti Tapsir said that Malaysia must have at least 35% high-skilled talents in the workforce by 2030 in order to achieve developed nation status.
Referring to the latest data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia, she said that the semi-skilled category makes up the majority (62%) of the country’s talents, while high-skilled talents in the workforce constitute only 24%.
Datuk Siti Hamisah said that since MBOT’s establishment in 2016, the professional body has registered more than 70,000 technologists and technicians, including over 18,000 professional technologists and 2,200 certified technicians.
“MBOT has accredited more than 800 technology and technical programmes in higher education institutions, ensuring that graduates will meet the knowledge and skills requirements in the job market,” she added.
She explained that MBOT currently oversees 24 technology clusters ranging from building technology, electrical and electronic technology, aviation and aerospace technology, to health and medical technology. The emergence of AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, and big data analytics would require more technicians and technologists to be certified, she remarked.
According to Dr Tan, the tripartite agreement will enable cooperation in the continuous upskilling of TVET (technological and vocational educational and training) talents and for addressing TVET talent gaps in the country, particularly in Sarawak.
Under the agreement, WOU will also facilitate the registration of new graduates with MBOT as a Registered Person under the Technologists and Technicians Act 2015 (Act 768) and promote the MBOT student chapter programmes to its students.
He said, “We intend to collaborate with MBOT and APTT on TVET and STEM (science, technology, education, and mathematics) educational programmes that would enhance technology and technical education and drive the socio-economic growth of Sarawak and Malaysia.”
The Association of Professional Technicians and Technologists (APTT) is a learned society based in Sarawak that focuses on technologists and technicians upskilling and upgrading.