Technologists and technicians in the country will be recognised as professionals by the Malaysia Board of Technologists (MBOT), a professional body launched last Thursday 17th November.
MBOT is governed under the Technologists and Technicians Act 2015 gazetted by the Parliament 4th June last year.
Professional Technologists and Certified Technicians recognised by the board would be entitled to use the title Ts and Tc respectively.
To embrace the incoming inevitable Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, through its newly restructured organisation that includes a Technology Foresight Division, and through its agencies, are forecasting technologies of the future.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan 2016 – 2020, 60 per cent of the 1.5 million newly created jobs would involve Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) skills.
Two study reports by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched in Putrajaya over a week ago – OECD Economic Surveys: Malaysia 2016 and OECD Reviews on Innovation Policy Malaysia 2016 urged Malaysia to step up its human resource capacity building through TVET to increase our competitiveness.
The report on Innovation Policy also reveals that despite resilient growth in our economy, our productivity growth has slowed and Malaysian firms will be challenged by their East Asian counterparts.
We need to respond by strengthening innovation and skills, and a primary way is through the transformation of TVET.
According to its definition by Unesco, TVET encompasses the study of technologies and related sciences and equips people with practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupation in various sectors of economic life.
Therefore, TVET prepares our citizens to learn how to learn and adapt, rather than rigidly preparing for specific occupations. The practicality of TVET has made the world rethink of its nature and role to respond to an unpredictable future, address sustainability issues and to promote equity.
The transformation of TVET has to be in an integrated manner; the enlarged stakeholder involvement had brought together government ministries, the industry, universities and colleges, and non-government organisations.
Within the government, MBOT is under the purview of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, collaborating with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Human Resources, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Work.
The role of government has changed from being a provider of TVET to a regulator, setting standards for training and employment.
In the 1990s, the West moved away from infrastructure projects and focused instead on social programs such as poverty eradication, anti-corruption campaigns and good governance.
Developing countries in Asia Pacific pursued an alternative development route from the West. They invested in infrastructure, industrialisation, manufacturing, and commerce and trade.
The spectacular economic transformation of Asian Tigers such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan was followed by Malaysia, India and other Asean nations.
The successful eradication of poverty and uplift of global economy during the 15 years of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals from 2000 to 2015 was largely due to the transformation of Asia Pacific.
We built roads and highways, electrified railways, airports, schools, access to water, sanitation, irrigation, clinics, telecommunications, information and communications technology, and power plants.
The basis of the Asia Pacific success is now encapsulated as one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, that is, to “build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.
The pace and scope of infrastructure development had also been magnified by China’s initiatives in recent years like “One Belt, One Road” unveiled in 2013 to stimulate economic and geographical links between China and Eurasia, Africa and Oceania.
This massive financing need of infrastructure was followed by the formation of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) early this year of which Malaysia is one of the 57 founding member nations; and the “One Belt One Road”.
This and other infrastructure construction frenzies caused a grievous shortage of professional engineers and technologists throughout the world. The supply chain of technologists and technicians in the developing world has been further weakened by the phenomenon of tertiary education institutions in the developing world, “Keep up with the Joneses!”.
That is, the constant advocacy to turn vocational institutions into polytechnics, polytechnics into technical universities, and technical universities into research universities.
Led by UNESCO, the world is endeavouring to redress the balance by advocating TVET.
The launch of the Malaysian Board of Technologists (MBOT) is therefore timely. MBOT would assure that all education courses for technologists at diploma and certificate levels are accredited to internationally accepted standards.
Graduates of these accredited courses should be registered with MBOT and provided with continuous professional development (CPD) to make sure that they discharge their professional duties with technical competence and professional ethics.
Unknown to many, MBOT membership registration is opened to beyond engineering related fields, including scientists such as biotechnologists. If you think you may be eligible, I strongly urge you to find out through its website http://www.mbot.org.my.
MBOT uses the Canadian Council of Technician and Technologist as its reference, with measures to adapt to local conditions. Its initial challenges would be to change the society’s perception towards TVET.
The public have to realise that infrastructure and technological development do not only depend on the engineers, a career held in higher esteem than other skilled workers.
Another concern of the board would be to determine a fair compensation for the skills of their technologists and technicians. We hope that this new recognition would lead to a fair reward system.
Moving forward, with the establishment of MBOT, we also hope to see more inclusion and diversity of people on the board and its sectors. We urge more youth and women to join this talent pool of technologists and technicians in the country.
On the matter of human capital mobility, the establishment of the Board of Engineers Malaysia and its admission as full national member of Washington Accord in 1989 has assured the mobility of Malaysian professional engineers in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies and Asean member nations.
There is no doubt that MBOT would similarly lead to the mobility of registered Malaysian technologists in APEC and Asean.