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Malaysia profiles its employability-linked education plan

Southeast Asia will become a bigger presence in global education, specifically in countries that form part of the ASEAN bloc. And Malaysia has delivered an impressive new blueprint for employability-linked tertiary education.

Kuala Lumpur played host to the British Council's Going Global event in 2018. Photo: The PIE News

Malaysia is also ensuring practical industry experience with its 2U2i program

These were key messages delivered to a delegation of 1,000 industry stakeholders at the Going Global conference in Malaysia this month.

“We must make the most out of our global knowledge and promote greater good in our societies”

Quality assurance and mobility measures will see southeast Asia increasingly considered as an education destination said His Excellency Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, deputy secretary general for Socio-Cultural Community at ASEAN.

“We have become more and more connected and we want to position ASEAN as an outward-looking [region],” he continued.

“We have three aims: to harmonise ASEAN quality assurance, build capacity in institutions and develop stronger linkages between universities and communities.”

He noted that globalisation also brings challenges such as climate change and extremism.

“We must make the most out of our global knowledge and connections and promote greater good in our societies,” he urged.

Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur, secretary general of the Ministry of Higher Education, also addressed delegates in the opening keynote.

“Our blueprint explains 10 shifts to position Malaysia as one of HE hubs in the world,” she revealed. “We are very serious about redesigning the higher education system.”

Nur outlined various initiatives such as the integrated cumulative grade point average assessment scheme which is being rolled out and grading eight types of skills and proficiencies, such as academic outcome, English proficiency, leadership abilities and critical thinking.

Malaysia is also ensuring practical industry experience with its 2U2i program that sees students spend two years working with companies such as Microsoft as well as two years studying.

On top of that, Nur outlined the CEO advocacy program that has seen 72 CEOs provide mentorship and input on curricula development in 2017.

“This involves top CEOs from companies such as Petronas, Samsung and Air Asia,” she explained.

Accrediting prior experiential learning is another innovation. This allows those with work-based skills to be considered for entry into higher education and has enabled direct entry for 1,000 students, including at postgraduate level.

The entwining of education and the world of employment was a topic also tackled by Ayesha Khanna, CEO and co-founder of ADDO AI, a company specialising in artificial intelligence based in Singapore.

“It is a myth that AI can function on its own”

She startled the audience by sharing the statistic that 47% of jobs were said to be under threat of being automated, according to The Economist.

“Some jobs will be lost but others will be created,” she told the audience. “It is a myth that AI can function on its own.”

Khanna outlined the types of professions that would proliferate in the new digital automated era, including genetics, virtual reality and manufacturing.

Nations and industries needed to be poised for this pivot, she said.

“It is foolhardy just to  talk about jobs that will be created,” she noted, pointing out that even in the banking industry, jobs would be lost to automation.

“But what does a country like Singapore do?” she asked. “It is investing $27 million to become Asia’s fintech hub,” funding startups that disrupt the banking sector and re-educate bankers.

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