By A Ghani Nasir
Pix by Saliman Leman
BANGI, 26 Jan. 2011 –Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah wants Malaysians to give better recognition to skilled based higher education as opart of the move to propel Malaysia into a nation on the higher income bracket.
The country needed more skillful workforce but sadly the society still regards skilled based higher education as inferior to the academic line, he said after launching a series of Seminars organised by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the School of History, Politics and Strategic Graduates Club (PESEPSI) in UKM here yesterday.
He said skills that should be given attention are high technology expertise giving the example of engineering where it was no longer the usual civil, chemical or mechanical disciplines but have now progressed into more specialised areas like sound engineers.
Saifuddin said these new specialised fields and new technologies were already being taught at some of the universities.
He lamented that though many may want to go into the skilled based studies, the best students were still inclined towards the academic fields.
“In developed countries not all their good students chose academic studies. They go for skilled based subjects,” he said.
The theme of this year’s seminar is “Towards a Higher Income Nation:Understanding Economic Liberalisation and The Open Market”.
Explaining the need for change, Datuk Saifuddin said in developed countries, at least 10 to 15 per cent of university graduates had chosen to be involved in entrepreneurship once they graduated compared to only 2.4 per cent in Malaysia.
“How are we going to get this moving? We have already organised entrepreneurship courses. We have also made it compulsary for students in public universities to study the subject.
“We also organised entrepreneur clubs in public universities (IPTA). Space to do business have been set up and students are also allowed to run businesses. Maybe we need to do something more. We will have to look into this,” he said.
Saifuddin said making Malaysia a higher income country is an ideal objective but needed more concerted effort in developing the economy according to current needs.
Touching on youths attitude towards politics, the Deputy Minister said the goverment realised that the younger generation was very cynical and sceptical of it.
“But its fortunate that our youths still have faith in democracy. Thus we needed to have innovations in democracy with the aim of getting more people to be involved in the decision making process.
“Its not an easy task. But we must increase the level of the people’s involvement in making important decisions which affect them. Thus democracy should not be limited to elections only,” he said.
Datuk Saifuddin said an innovation adopted by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak is helping to bring in new ideas. But more needed to be done like having more meetings and mini assemblies.
PESEPSI and IDEAS organised the series of seminars to create increased awareness among students on ways to meet objectives of the Economic Transformation programme now being pursued in the move towards attaining developed nation status with higher income for the people.