TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) is something Malaysia has long needed a national strategic plan for because TVET takes place in both formal and informal settings. But there are many challenges faced.

For one, there are many constraints related to the funding mechanisms which I outlined in my article, Strong Need for a National Strategic Plan for TVET Funding Mechanism. TVET also does not seem to respond to the demands of the market or industry needs, lagging in an understanding of what industry requires and how best to meet these requirements.


A matter of perception

In most countries, Malaysia included, less value is placed on TVET, compared to university or college education. Parents, educators and the education industry as a whole, do not regard TVET in the same way as they do higher university education. In many cases, bright students veer towards university education, leaving TVET as a poor second choice for those who do not seem to meet the requirements of higher learning. This does not help the image TVET has.

In general, it does not help that there is weak participation from other stakeholders also. Whether it is a lack of relevance of these TVET programmes or the lack of skills the TVET graduates bring to the job market, these issues could be better addressed if there was greater involvement from various stakeholders and if the industry were more strongly involved and supportive.


What is the purpose of vocational education and training?

It is meant to create a range of pathways and study options, whether that be entirely off-the-job to entirely-on-the-job with the ultimate aim of ensuring that all training relates to what industry requires. It, therefore, is relevant and necessary that industry is involved closely throughout this process to ensure that what is created, developed and then taught is what is critically needed.

In today’s high-tech work environment, there are many challenges which simultaneously present opportunities to those who are open to seeing them as such. In my line of work, I believe there are five core areas in this new digital economy that we need to focus on: the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Drone Technology, Digital Marketing, Customer Experience (CX) and Data Analytics.



It’s about creating intelligent distributed systems. As Steve Olenski shares in his Forbes article. The 5 Technology Trends that May Disrupt Business over the next 3 years, “Businesses are making big bets on intelligent environments via robotics, AI and immersive experiences. Yet it’s not all about changing legacy systems. Bringing these intelligent environments to life will require adding key skills and workforce capabilities.”


Drone Tech

Earlier this year, significant capabilities were predicted by Amit Regev and Yariv Bash both of Flytrex Aviation in the VentureBeat article, Drone trends to watch in 2018: Big data, flying taxis and home security. They discussed how multiple high functioning cameras, upgraded Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), ultra-fast charging and longer lasting batteries would mean drones would now have greater range and performance flexibility.

Flying taxis? Perhaps these are not too far in the future. Whether it is home surveillance, flying taxis or big data, the opportunities are only just beginning to look exciting in this space.


Digital Marketing

“In the age of the mobile and tablet experience, the digital marketing landscape is where everything is converging – SEO, social media, PPC, content marketing and more. Programmatic advertising is essentially using AI to automate the buying of ads and being able to target audiences more specifically, which increases the chances of success of the marketing campaign and reduces the customer acquisition cost,” argued Nidhi Dave in an article in Single Grain where Programmatic advertising  was named one of the 11 digital marketing trends for.

Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience at the right place and right time. Today, this means it is largely on the internet which is why digital marketing has become so critical to business success. Digital marketing is any kind of marketing done online through various channels, platforms and tactics. Whether it is your business website, use of email marketing, online brochures, pop-up advertisements or other advertising options, these are all under the umbrella of digital marketing.


Customer Experience

We hear the term ‘customer experience’ quite often but what does it mean? Customer experience can include many different elements but most importantly, it comes down to the perception a customer has of your brand. While you may believe you produce great products, if a customer has a bad experience of this product or the sales process, this in itself will affect the customer experience.

There are many things that contribute to the overall customer experience – it is not just about the product or service. It could be the messaging you use. It could be the process by which you sell your products. It could be after-sales support. Even the inner workings of your company, your leadership team and how they interact with the rest of the organisation and the way in which the product is developed all come together to create and impact the overall customer experience.

What’s changing things for us? Customers.

Customers today are even more connected than ever before. They have a plethora of information at their fingertips, which means they are often demanding, unpredictable and want things their way and quickly. They work to solve their problems themselves. They also hold the power of social media which means their voice has an impact. This ultimately changes everything for brands today. What used to be a linear customer journey is now largely fragmented.

Understanding how to make sense of these changes and how to respond is what organisations need to do in order to create the kind of customer experiences that delight and thrill and keep them coming back for more.


Data Analytics

We are now living in the Information Age, a shift away from the Industrial Revolution that was brought about due to industrialisation to our current economy which is based on information technology. What does this mean for us? For one, data overload.

Our problem is not having enough data points. Our problem is having too many data points and learning what it takes to make sense of it all. In order to rely on data, we’ve got to know it is clean, reliable and trustworthy. Data Analytics, in that sense, is simply the science of examining raw data so that we can draw conclusions from the information gathered.


What the TVET industry needs

I believe that vocational education needs to prepare talent to work across a variety of roles, many of which are technical. In today’s work environment, this requires a focus on the new digital economy and the areas I have outlined above. Governments and businesses around the world are making the necessary investments in these domains, fully understanding that talent and skills issues are and continue to be a top priority. The future of enterprise in Malaysia relies on our ability to move quickly with the changes that are upon us now and respond well.


As a digital transformation leader, I see myself driving talent development and future proofing the workplace for the digital economy. I believe that transformation is headed our way in five core areas in this new digital economy and my businesses are focused on these areas: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) | Drone Technology | STEM | Customer Experience (CX) | Data Analytics for Business Solutions.  

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