TVET Versus Academic Education: Dispelling The Myth Of Second-Class Education

ByMohd Azad Jasmi

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) plays a vital role in shaping the skilled workforce of a nation. In Malaysia, TVET has emerged as a critical component of the education system, addressing the demand for skilled professionals across various industries. With its focus on practical skills and hands-on training, TVET programs offer an alternative pathway for individuals to acquire industry-relevant skills, boost employability, and contribute to economic growth.

In recent years, the potential of TVET has garnered significant attention not only in Malaysia but also on a global scale. Recognizing the need for a skilled workforce to drive economic development and address industry demands, countries worldwide are emphasizing the importance of TVET as a key pillar of their education systems. The global landscape is witnessing a shift in perception, with TVET being viewed as a viable and valuable option for individuals seeking meaningful careers and companies seeking skilled talent.

In Malaysia, the government has been proactive in promoting TVET through various initiatives and policies. The Technical and Vocational Education Division under the Ministry of Education has been instrumental in expanding TVET offerings, fostering partnerships with industry players, and ensuring the quality and relevance of TVET programs. Efforts have also been made to enhance the public perception of TVET, encouraging students to consider TVET as a viable pathway to success.

The potential of TVET extends beyond Malaysia’s borders. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and industries continue to evolve, the demand for skilled workers transcends geographical boundaries. The rapid advancements in technology, digitalization, and automation have created a global skills gap, making TVET more crucial than ever. Countries are recognizing the importance of equipping their workforce with relevant technical skills, entrepreneurship abilities, and adaptability to thrive in the dynamic global economy.

Moreover, TVET offers immense potential for individuals from diverse backgrounds, including school leavers, mid-career professionals, and even marginalized groups. By providing practical skills training, work-based learning opportunities, and industry certifications, TVET equips individuals with the necessary competencies to meet industry demands and secure meaningful employment. It promotes social mobility, empowers individuals to take charge of their futures, and bridges the gap between education and industry.

In this article, we will explore the journey and potential of TVET in Malaysia and its implications on a global scale. We will delve into the initiatives taken to enhance TVET in Malaysia, examine the evolving perception of TVET worldwide, and shed light on the growing opportunities and benefits that TVET offers both individuals and industries. Join us as we navigate the transformative power of TVET and its role in shaping the skilled workforce of today and tomorrow.

TVET education holds several strengths that make it a valuable and viable option for individuals seeking practical skills and industry-specific knowledge.

The strengths of TVET

  1. Practical Skills Development: One of the primary strengths of TVET education is its emphasis on hands-on training and practical skills development. Students engage in real-world scenarios, gaining valuable experience that prepares them for the demands of the industry. For example, in automotive technology programs, students work on repairing engines, troubleshooting electrical systems, and performing maintenance tasks, equipping them with practical skills required in the automotive industry.
  2. Industry-Relevant Curriculum: TVET programs are designed in close collaboration with industries to ensure the curriculum remains up-to-date and aligned with the needs of the job market. This alignment with industry demands ensures that graduates possess the specific skills and knowledge required by employers. For instance, in hospitality and culinary arts programs, students learn industry-specific skills such as food preparation, menu planning, and customer service, preparing them for careers in the hospitality sector.
  3. Work-Based Learning: TVET education often incorporates work-based learning opportunities, such as apprenticeships, internships, or on-the-job training. These experiences allow students to apply their theoretical knowledge in real work environments, gaining practical exposure and building networks within the industry. For example, electrical engineering students may have the opportunity to work alongside experienced electricians, honing their skills and deepening their understanding of electrical systems.
  4. Enhanced Employability: TVET graduates are often highly sought after by employers due to their practical skills and industry-specific knowledge. TVET programs equip individuals with job-ready skills, increasing their employability and facilitating a smoother transition into the workforce. For instance, graduates from welding and fabrication programs have the necessary skills to work in manufacturing, construction, or engineering industries, filling critical skill gaps.
  5. Entrepreneurial Opportunities: TVET education also nurtures entrepreneurial skills and fosters a spirit of innovation. It equips individuals with the knowledge and abilities to start their own businesses or become self-employed. For example, graduates from fashion design programs may establish their own clothing line or open a boutique, utilizing their creative skills and business acumen.
  6. Diverse Career Pathways: TVET education offers a wide range of career pathways across various industries. It caters to different interests and aptitudes, allowing individuals to pursue careers in fields such as engineering, healthcare, information technology, culinary arts, and more. This diversity ensures that individuals can find their passion and contribute to sectors that align with their interests and talents.

These strengths of TVET education highlight its ability to bridge the gap between education and industry, empowering individuals with practical skills, industry relevance, and enhanced employability. The examples provided showcase how TVET programs prepare students for specific industries, nurture entrepreneurship, and offer diverse career pathways. With its strengths, TVET education becomes a powerful tool in equipping individuals with the skills they need to thrive in the workforce and contribute to the growth and development of industries.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of individuals and societies. However, there exists a prevalent stigma surrounding Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) that portrays it as a secondary choice compared to academic-based education. It is time to debunk this misconception and shed light on the immense value and potential of TVET education.

To instill the understanding and importance of TVET education in the minds of Malaysian teachers, parents, students, and the general public, it is crucial to adopt a multi-faceted approach that focuses on awareness, collaboration, and showcasing the benefits of TVET.

Suggestion to promote TVET

Education and Awareness Campaigns:

  1. Develop comprehensive campaigns that highlight the value and benefits of TVET education through various media channels, including television, radio, print, and social media.
  2. Organize seminars, workshops, and webinars to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the opportunities and potential career paths available through TVET education.
  3. Collaborate with educational institutions, industry experts, and government agencies to conduct informative sessions and panel discussions on the significance of TVET education.

Promote Success Stories:

  1. Showcase success stories of individuals who have pursued TVET education and achieved remarkable career success. Highlight their achievements, professional growth, and the impact they have made in their respective industries.
  2. Share testimonials and case studies of TVET graduates who have excelled in their fields, emphasizing their practical skills, entrepreneurial endeavors, and contributions to the nation’s development.

Collaborative Partnerships:

  1. Foster collaborations between TVET institutions, schools, and industry players to establish meaningful partnerships. Encourage industries to actively engage with TVET institutions by offering internships, apprenticeships, and job placement opportunities for TVET graduates.
  2. Organize industry visits, job fairs, and open-house events to provide students and parents with firsthand experiences of industries that value and require TVET skills.

Parental Engagement:

  1. Organize dedicated sessions for parents to address their concerns, misconceptions, and provide them with information about the benefits and opportunities available in TVET education.
  2. Conduct workshops and seminars that educate parents on the diverse career paths, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the potential for professional growth that TVET education can offer their children.

Curriculum Enhancement:

  1. Collaborate with relevant authorities and industry experts to continuously update and enhance the TVET curriculum to ensure it aligns with current industry needs and trends.
  2. Introduce innovative teaching methodologies and practical training to create an engaging and industry-relevant learning experience for TVET students.

Government Support:

  1. Seek continuous support and advocacy from the government through policy initiatives, funding, and strategic partnerships to promote and elevate the status of TVET education in the national education agenda.
  2. Encourage the government to recognize and celebrate the achievements of TVET graduates through awards and scholarships.

Engage Role Models:

  1. Engage successful TVET graduates, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders as ambassadors and role models to inspire and motivate students and parents.
  2. Arrange mentorship programs where experienced professionals can guide and support TVET students in their career journeys.

By implementing these strategies, Malaysia can create a cultural shift in how TVET education is perceived and valued. Emphasizing the importance of TVET education for national development, economic growth, and personal success will help instill confidence in the minds of teachers, parents, students, and the public, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and dynamic educational landscape for the country.

My thoughts

Recently, I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on TVET education, aiming to address the misconceptions held by teachers, students, and parents. The core objective was to emphasize that TVET education is not an inferior alternative but rather a parallel pathway that offers a distinct set of skills and opportunities.

During the presentation, I focused on the concept of TVET education as “Global Skills,” a term recognized and advocated by UNESCO, the United Nations agency responsible for promoting education. UNESCO identifies TVET as an essential component in achieving two crucial Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 4 – Quality Education, and SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Under SDG 4, the aim is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. TVET plays a pivotal role in providing individuals with practical skills and knowledge that align with the needs of industries and the labor market. It equips students with the necessary competencies to thrive in various sectors, thereby contributing to the economic growth and development of nations.

Moreover, SDG 8 highlights the significance of fostering sustainable economic growth and decent work opportunities. TVET education directly addresses this goal by producing a skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of a rapidly evolving global economy. By imparting industry-relevant skills, TVET empowers individuals to secure meaningful employment and pursue successful careers.

It is vital to dispel the notion that TVET education is a second-tier choice. Rather, it is an avenue that offers a distinct range of skills and opportunities, fostering economic empowerment and personal development. By bridging the gap between academic and TVET education, we can provide a comprehensive and inclusive educational landscape that caters to the diverse needs and aspirations of students.

To truly address the stigma surrounding TVET, collaborative efforts are required. Teachers, students, parents, policymakers, and industry leaders must come together to promote the value of TVET education and the significant role it plays in building a skilled and resilient workforce. By creating awareness, providing support, and offering equal opportunities, we can reshape perceptions and inspire individuals to consider TVET as a viable and rewarding educational pathway.


My presentation on TVET education aimed to challenge the stigma that undermines its value and potential. We need to recognize TVET as a pathway to global skills, as indicated by UNESCO under SDG 4 and SDG 8. By empowering individuals with practical, industry-relevant skills, TVET education contributes to sustainable development, economic growth, and personal success. Let us embrace the power of TVET education and work together to create a future where every educational choice is valued and respected.

Remember, education is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is about embracing diverse pathways and empowering individuals to achieve their fullest potential.

Together, let us redefine the narrative surrounding TVET education and unleash the power of global skills.

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