The Association for Community and Dialogue welcomes Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) will be given priority in the budget to reskill our workforce.
In his press conference after a special cabinet meeting held recently, he was quoted as saying, “The income gap between the rich and poor is too wide so we need to increase the people’s income. But we don’t want to do this by just increasing wages, (we want) to improve their capacity so that they are more productive, and give them training so that they are more capable and efficient.”
In another report, he said: “TVET will play an important role in realising this vision because it can help increase the skills of our workers. There will be more priority towards TVET in our national budget.”
If members of the workforce are to reskill and upskill themselves, a coordinated information strategy to disseminate information to young people and workers is vital, especially to the lower-income community.
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According to the International Labour Organization’s Human Resources Development Convention (142) Article 3:
Each Member shall gradually extend its systems of vocational guidance, including continuing employment information, with a view to ensuring that comprehensive information and the broadest possible guidance are available to all children, young persons and adults, including… disabled persons.
Such information and guidance shall cover the choice of an occupation, vocational training and related educational opportunities, the employment situation and employment prospects, promotion prospects, conditions of work, safety and hygiene at work, and other aspects of working life….
The information and guidance shall be supplemented by information on general aspects of collective agreements and of the rights and obligations of all concerned under labour law…
It is obvious Convention 142 takes a comprehensive view of human resources development, one that helps build collective consciousness on the rights of workers to human development in relation to vocational training as well as their rights under labour laws generally.
In the Malaysian context, it is vital that information concerning human resources development policies, skills training, labour and industrial laws are disseminated to the bottom 40% community through various information channels. This would encourage them to attend technical and vocational education and training and, at the same time, become aware of the importance of laws governing employment.
Parliamentarians and state assembly members, irrespective of political affiliation, and local government councillors should play a significant role in disseminating such information to the lower-income community. The Pakatan Harapan government should reach out to opposition parliamentarians too in this endeavour that is of great national importance.
We hope the government will soon come up with a comprehensive information strategy on human resources development for Malaysia in line with the Human Resources Development Convention 142, to disseminate information on technical and vocational education and training.
This would certainly help to empower the poor and help meet the objectives of shared prosperity envisaged by the prime minister.