The UK's offer to share its expertise in developing skills and competencies is what the State needs as job sectors in the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) is expected to require more than 100,000 skilled workers.
The country has a strong track record in both TVET and academics, and is a global leader in supporting other countries to develop excellence in their respective education and training systems.
"I'm delighted that the UK is the partner of choice to work in Sabah in delivering on its human capital development aspiration. The UK can share its expertise in developing skills and competencies for the sectors which account for a total of 114,000 jobs required by the Sabah Development Corridor," British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell said during the first-ever TVET seminar held here, on Monday.
The seminar was organised by the British High Commission in Malaysia and Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia).
The UK's support for Sabah, and also Malaysia in general, looks set to further elevate the TVET status which has already been transformed from being a less popular educational option as compared with the traditional university to being one of the most sought-after programmes in the world of education.
In February last year, the British High Commission in Malaysia has initiated a five-year "Education is Great" campaign which brings together schools, universities, professional and vocational training bodies, UK alumnus in Malaysia, as well as various suppliers and businesses, to support the education sector.
"UK and Malaysia have an incredible longstanding relationship and education partnership is at the heart of it.
Under this ongoing campaign, we are making UK expertise in education and training accessible to Malaysia at the national and state levels," Treadell said.
While assuring the TVET does provide a very good path to anyone's careers and professions in life, Treadell, who had discussed about demand for skilled workers in the State with the Chief Minister, said one of the lessons that Malaysia and Sabah can learn from the UK in developing TVET is how not to do it wrongly.
She said her country has learned a lot from its past mistakes.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mary Yap also acknowledged the importance of the TVET because of its orientation towards the world of work.
"As economies develop and require more skilled workers, governments and businesses are increasingly investing in TVET," she said.
It is for this reason, she said, that her ministry launched the National Higher Education Blueprint (2015-2025) that charts the TVET landscape.
"Today, TVET holds the key towards driving the engine of industrial and economic growth in the competitive global market," she added.
She pointed out that several initiatives have already been implemented by the Government in line with its commitment in providing the best and highest quality of higher education experience for students.
Two of them are the 'Two Universities + Two Industries' (2u2i) and CEO@Faculty programmes which basically allows flexibility of studying while working and engages industry CEOs as teachers of students.
According to Yap, some of the many companies participating in the latter programme include AirAsia, Huawei Malaysia, Shell Malaysia and Samsung.
She said the Government is also looking at having 30 per cent of public university lecturers and 50 per cent in polytechnics and community colleges to be well versed in industry requirements, or better yet qualified and experienced individuals from the industry themselves.
While all the initiatives and plans are aimed at revolutionising the country and Sabah's human capital plus making Malaysia an international and regional education hub by 2020, education development partnership with the UK is expected to accelerate the move forward, particularly in TVET development. - Leonard Alaza