Skilled workers the next ‘in’ thing

I, robot: Electrical and electronic engineering student Kok Kah Seng (left) showing his creation – the Megaone robot – at the INTI International College Penang booth during The Star Education Fair.

GEORGE TOWN: School leavers are encouraged to take up technical and vocational courses as skilled workers will be in demand in future.

Deputy Education Minister II P. Kama­la­nathan said this would be affirmed in the National Education Blueprint for Higher Education, which will be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on April 7.

“The focus of the blueprint is on technical and vocational education. Students should change their perception that technical and vocational education is geared for the less academically qualified,” he said.

“Time has changed and technical and vocational education is the ‘in’ thing now. Forget about becoming lawyers, engineers or doctors,” he said at the launch of The StarEducation Fair 2015 at SPICE Arena in Relau yesterday.

Kamalanathan spoke of a recent conference in New Delhi where he was told that a psychiatrist with a PhD would charge his client £250 (RM1,375) per hour.

“But a person who knows how to change roof tiles is getting £300 (RM1,650) per hour.

“In Germany, 60% of its top achievers do not go to universities. They opt for polytechnics. It’s a dual training method – comprising either 70% or 75% of practical training and 30% or 25% of academic session,” he said.

He said some polytechnics were now offering degrees in automation.

“The syllabus is created by both academicians and the industry players,” he said.

The education fair featured 87 exhibitors taking up 253 booths, offering undergraduate, postgraduate, twinning, diploma, certificate and distance learning programmes during the two-day event which ended yesterday.

The Star executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim, in his speech, said The Star Education Fund would be awarding 58 scholarships worth RM1mil with grants from six university and college partners.

The Star’s partners-in-education are KDU College Penang (RM447,000), Sentral College Penang (RM173,000), Sunway College Ipoh (RM134,000), Equator College Penang (RM119,000), Han Chiang College (RM115,000) and PTPL Penang (RM105,000).

“We will continue to work with institutions of higher learning to provide opportunities for the underprivileged to acquire higher education,” he said.

Kamalanathan and Kamal were on hand to receive the pledges from representatives of the partners-in-education during a presentation ceremony yesterday.

Joining them were The Star senior regional manager (operations) David Yeoh and The Star Education Fund manager Susanna Kuan. Also present was Penang MCA secretary Tan Chuan Hong.

The Star Education Fund has been providing bursaries to students since 1994.