Have STEM skills will travel, youths told


Dennis (second left) listens to an explanation by Awangku Merali on one of the robotic and electronic exhibits.

MIRI: The youths of today are encouraged to pursue further education in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to boost the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and also the state’s digital economy.

According to Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, currently only 19 per cent of Sarawakian students are pursuing STEM subjects and in this regard, there is a need to grow the percentage to at least 40 per cent.

“By pursuing STEM subjects, many students would be able to pursue a host of technical and vocational fields which, in turn, would help produce a strong highly skilled workforce either in the digital, technical or vocational areas.

“These are the skills we need to inculcate (in students) towards the goal of Sarawak being a developed state by 2030,” he said at the kick-off of the ‘Project of Dreams Realised’ (Pro-DR) 2018 Miri’ roadshow at Imperial Hotel here on Thursday night.

The event was a collaboration between the state government and Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (Tegas).

Dennis, who is also Tegas board member, commended the fund board for its proactive steps in sparking interest in and awareness of STEM in the community through various activities, including those carried out under Tegas Digital Innovation Hub.

It is learnt that Tegas has been running the annual Pro-DR Roadshow since 2015.

“This roadshow acts as an avenue for rural students and youths to obtain information on education, training and financial assistance especially Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) holders.”

Dennis also reminded SPM and STPM holders to make wise decisions, particularly in the selection of majors in their tertiary studies. He also encouraged them to consider technical and vocational education and training (TVeT).

“Having a degree does not guarantee a graduate would land a job right away. This is happening today, even with existing job opportunities made available,” he said.

Citing data from the Statistics Department, he said about 200,000 graduates were unemployed in 2016.

“The number could increase from year to year if no action is taken,” he stressed, believing that one of the factors could be that the degree or credentials of the graduates did not match the needs of the job market.

“The development of SCORE requires a skilled and technical workforce. Hence, if the younger generation wants to work in heavy industries, they ought to undergo TVeT at institutions like polytechnics, industrial training institutes and skills centres.

“Those interested in digital economy should be willing to learn or get training in high-technology fields such as loT (‘Internet of Things’), programming and coding, cyber security, in addition to digital marketing and e-commerce,” said Dennis.

He cited lack of proficiency in the English language as another factor.

On a positive side, Dennis quoted Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who said in Parliament recently that the youth unemployment rate in Malaysia was lower than that ofNew Zealand and Australia.

“The youth unemployment rate in Malaysia is 12.4 per cent versus 14 per cent in New Zealand, 12.5 per cent in Australia, 13.5 per cent in the Philippines, and 19 per cent in Indonesia.”

Moreover, the graduate marketability in the country was 79.1 per cent, said Dennis – meaning of 100 people graduating from local universities, 79 would obtain employment within six months after obtaining their certificates.

Meanwhile, over 40 institutions and agencies were involved in Pro-DR 2018, which kicked off in Lundu in the middle of this month and after here, it would head to Mukah before concluding in Lawas early next month.

More than 400 students from secondary schools around this division witnessed the launch at the hotel, where Tegas chief operating officer Awangku Merali Pengiran Mohamed was present.