Students and members of the workforce should undertake to pursue the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes available at WOU, in an effort to further unlock their potential and thrive in the digital era.
Dean of the School of Science and Technology, Assoc Prof Dr Sean Tan Koon Tatt, took the opportunity to share about WOU’s TVET initiatives during the Talent Dialogue Series titled “Strategising TVET & STEM Talents” held at the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) auditorium on 13 April 2023.
Over 110 people from industries, government agencies and TVET educational institutions attended the event organised by InvestPenang in partnership with PSDC and Penang STEM 4.0.
Dr Tan highlighted WOU’s new Bachelor of Technology (Honours) in Mechatronics Systems (BTMS) programme, which is set to be launched in the September 2023 intake. “With this programme, WOU can help to upskill the TVET talents and collaborate with the industry players in Penang on talent retention measures.”
He also shared about other WOU programmes for upskiling the workforce and to address the talent gap in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They are the bachelor’s degree programmes in electronics (BTEL), mechatronics (BTME), software engineering (BDSE) and digital business (BDBS), the new Masters in Systems Design Engineering, and the MBA in Manufacturing and Production Management (MBAMPM).
He added that these WOU programmes are delivered through open distance learning (ODL) and provide work-based learning (WBL), thus enabling students to earn while they learn and indirectly help companies to retain talents.
Dr Tan pointed out that WOU also offers micro-credentials, either on-demand or bundled courses for credit transfer to an accredited programme, along with TVET training via the WOU Academy for the award of professional certification or professional diploma in electronics.
Earlier during the panel session on “TVET Talent – The Game Changer”, four speakers from technical/vocational training institutions talked about TVET talent challenges. They cited very low wages of TVET graduates such that they cannot even pay for accommodation. Among the recommendations were for industry players to revise their pay scheme for TVET graduates, and for them to work closely with TVET providers to upskill their workforce to overcome talent shortage. The consensus was that the TVET talent shortage arose due to a lack of sustainable pipeline for TVET talent because secondary students tend not to be interested in STEM subjects.
As a follow-up to the event, InvestPenang aims to work with all TVET providers to craft a TVET development blueprint.
The participants were also briefed on the programme offerings of other TVET institutions, such as PSDC and JMTI Penang, and the various financial assistances that companies can tap into for human capital development, including from NCER Malaysia, HRD Corp, and TalentCorp.
They also learnt how they can collaborate on school outreach programmes with Penang STEM, Penang Science Cluster and Tech Dome Penang.