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Current Editor: Dr. Robert T. Howell  bhowell@fhsu.edu
Volume 39, Number 2
Winter 2002


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The Role of Vocational Education in Economic Development in Malaysia: Educators' and Employers' Perspectives

Ramlee B. Mustapha
The National University of Malaysia

James P. Greenan
Purdue University

Ever since the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, progress and prosperity have been closely identified with economic development (Jomo, 1993). The economic competitiveness of a country depends on the skills of its work force. The skills and competencies of the work force, in turn, are dependent upon the quality of the country's education and training systems. Vocational education is perceived as one of the crucial elements in enhancing economic productivity (Min, 1995). Based on social efficiency theory, schools should prepare and supply future workers with appropriate knowledge and skills to enhance their productivity and, therefore, promote economic growth (Finch, 1993; Labaree, 1997).

Nevertheless, vocational education has sometimes become a tool for addressing the economic, political, and social crises that are threatening the political and economic stability of some nations. Rising unemployment, lack of skilled workers, high dropout rates, and the changing demographic nature of the work force have placed the issue of workforce education high on the educational reform agenda (Giroux, 1991).

Traditionally, vocational education has prepared students for specific skills. However, in the post-Taylorist work environment, workers are expected to perform more broadly-defined jobs (Hirsch & Wagner, 1995). Therefore, a broad-based education is required. In the new economic environment, vocational education is expected to produce an educated, skilled, and motivated work force (Mustapha, 1999).

The economic argument in favor of vocational education is linked to the perceived need to orient the formal educational system to the needs of the world of work (Middleton, Ziderman, & Adams, 1993; Neuman & Ziderman, 1989). It is based on the assumption that economic growth and development are technology-driven and human capital-dependent.

International comparisons show that employers in the U.S. and U.K. believe the present state of vocational education in their respective countries is inadequate to train students effectively for the changing demands of the work place (Brown & Keep, 1999; Distler, 1992). Australian employers, however, seem satisfied with their vocational education system (Fairweather, 1999). Research on educators' perceptions regarding vocational education generally reveals positive findings (Barnett, 1984; Matulis, 1989; Matthews, 1987; Pryor, 1984).

Despite vast research on employers' and educators' perspectives regarding the role of vocational education in the economic development of industrialized countries (e.g., Bishop, 1989; Carnevale & Schulz, 1990; Clouse, 1997; Harvey, 1998; Lewis, 1991; Lynch & Black, 1996; Mobley, 1998; Williams & Hornsby, 1989), minimal research exists in developing countries. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of Malaysian employers and educators regarding the role of vocational education in the economic development of the country. Even though Malaysia was selected, some of the findings may be applicable to other countries with similar contexts.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of educators and employers regarding the role of vocational education in the economic development of Malaysia. Specifically, the research questions were:

  1. To what extent does vocational education contribute to the economic development of Malaysia?
  2. What are the perceptions of educators and employers regarding the employability of graduates of vocational programs?
  3. What are the factors that facilitate or inhibit the restructuring of vocational education in serving the needs of Malaysia's industrialization?
  4. To what extent do educators and employers believe that government is responsive to the needs of vocational education and training systems?

Methodology

This was a descriptive study intended to examine the role of vocational education in the economic development of Malaysia. According to Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), descriptive research involves providing careful descriptions of a phenomenon. Its purpose is to generate an accurate description of an event, attitude, or behavior. The research design was based on the study's objectives. A survey questionnaire was constructed to collect the data for this study.

Population and Sample

There were two target populations in this study. The first population (N=4,316) included all vocational educators in public vocational schools and polytechnics (similar to community colleges in the United States) in Peninsular Malaysia as identified from a directory of vocational personnel obtained from the Technical and Vocational Division, Ministry of Education. A random sample of 300 subjects was selected. The second population was corporate management personnel from large and medium-size manufacturing companies in Klang Valley and Selangor. These areas were selected because of the concentration of large and medium-size manufacturing companies. The companies were limited to three categories: Fabricated Metal Products, Machinery Manufacturing, and Transport Equipment. The industrial categories were based on the classification used by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA). The three industrial categories were chosen based on the assumption that the majority of vocational graduates were employed in these industries. The directory of these companies was obtained from MIDA. Management personnel surveyed in this study were limited to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Personnel Manager, Production Manager, and Head Supervisor. These management personnel were assumed to represent the employer perspectives. With the exception of the CEO, personnel and production managers and supervisors were assumed to have regular contact with the employees. Therefore, they were in a unique position to evaluate the employees. Of the 283 manufacturing companies in Klang Valley and Selangor, 30 (or approximately 10% of the companies) were randomly selected. In each selected company, four management personnel (i.e., CEOs, personnel and production managers, and supervisors) were requested to complete the survey, for a total sample of 120 employers.

Instrumentation

The purpose of the survey questionnaire was to identify the role of vocational education in the economic development of Malaysia. The items were generated based on the research questions posited for this study. The instrument items, format, and procedures were constructed based on existing research studies and literature related to vocational education and training, educational reform, economics of education, employability, school and business partnerships, technology-preparation (tech-prep), school-to-work, and current trends in education.

The first section of the survey contained a purpose statement, directions, and demographic information. A code number was assigned to each instrument to maintain the anonymity of the respondents. The demographic items for educators and employers included gender, ethnicity, present position, and highest qualification. The educator survey also included primary program area, type of institution, location of institution, years of teaching and/or administrative experience, and the number of in-service courses attended. Additional demographic information included in the employer survey were years of management experience, company size, and type of ownership

The second section of the instrument contained directions and 26 five-point Likert-scale items. The following scale ranges were constructed: 4.50 - 5.00 Strongly Agree; 3.50 - 4.49 Agree; 2.50 - 3.49 Uncertain; 1.50 - 2.49 Disagree; and 1.00 - 1.49 Strongly Disagree. Several drafts of the instrument were reviewed by a panel of experts, which consisted of four professors in the field of vocational and technical education. Revisions were made based on their comments and recommendations. The instrument was also pilot-tested on a small group (n=12) of vocational and technical educators. The internal consistency reliability for the instrument using Cronbach's Coefficient Alpha was estimated to be α = 0.94. Therefore, the final version of the instrument was considered to possess an adequate degree of content and face validity and internal consistency reliability.

Data Collection and Data Analysis

Survey instruments were mailed to the 300 educators and 120 employers. The cover letter explained the purpose and importance of the study and requested their assistance and cooperation. Three follow-up mailings were conducted at three, six, and nine week intervals after the initial mailing. A total of 276 educator instruments (92%) and 53 employer instruments (44%) were returned. The data were coded and analyzed using Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) version 6.12. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to organize, analyze, and interpret the data. Descriptive statistics included frequencies, percentages, rank-orders, means, and standard deviations. Confidence intervals and margins of error were the inferential statistics used in this study. The information was then summarized and described.

Results

Demographics of Educators

Of the 276 educators, 69% were male and 31% were female. The majority of the respondents were Malay (85.7%), followed by Chinese (12.5%), and Indian (1.5%). Most (89%) were teachers and the remainder (11%) was administrators. Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents were educators in vocational schools and 34 % were polytechnic educators. More than one-fourth (26%) of the sample had 6 to 10 years teaching experience. The majority (60.8%) of the participants had no administrative experience. The top three program areas were electrical engineering, represented by 13% of the respondents, followed by mechanical engineering (10.1%) and civil engineering (9.1%).

Demographics of Employers

The respondents were 91% male and 9% female. The majority were Malay (76%) followed by Chinese (15%), and Indian (9%). Over one-half (59%) of the respondents were managers, and the remainder were supervisors (32%) and CEOs (9%). Half of the respondents (51%) indicated the Bachelor's degree as their highest level of education. Approximately one-third (30.2%) of the respondents had management experience between 6 to 10 years. Respondents were management personnel in locally owned companies (68%), joint-ventures (17%), or multi-national corporations (15%).

The second section of the survey contained 26 Likert-scale items. The findings were organized around the study's four research questions. For each research question, the data showed no significant differences among demographic variables, with the exception of programs areas. Thus, the data were fairly consistent across the demographic data.

Items 1 through 5 addressed research question 1: To what extent does vocational education and training contribute to the economic development of Malaysia? Table 1 illustrates the means, margins of error, and standard deviations for items 1 through 5. Regarding item 1, the educators (M=4.64, SD=.53) strongly agreed and employers (M=4.38, SD=.69) agreed that vocational education and training has contributed to the economic development of Malaysia. For item 2, the educators agreed (M=3.78, SD=1.07) that vocational institutions have prepared sufficient numbers of skilled workers, but the relatively large standard deviation suggests that the responses were dispersed. Employers (M=3.02, SD=.97) indicated that they were uncertain. For item 3, educators (M=4.26, SD=.75) and employers (M=3.91, SD=.77) agreed that polytechnics and vocational programs were more suitable than academic programs in preparing for new skills and use of technology. For item 4, educators (M=3.60, SD=.97) agreed that public vocational institutions had produced higher quality graduates than their private counterparts, while the employers (M=3.06, SD=.73) were less certain. Interestingly, both educators (M=4.02, SD=.73) and employers (M=3.85, SD=.79) agreed that a substantial financial investment in vocational education and training was justified (item 5).

For items 1 through 5, the margins of error for the educators' data (.06 to .12) were much lower than the margins of error for the employers' data (.19 to .27) at the 95 % confidence level. One possible explanation is that the educator sample size was much larger (n=276) than the employer sample size (n=53). Overall, educators (M=4.06, SD=.46) seemed to agree more than employers (M=3.64, SD=.51) regarding the positive effect of vocational education on the economic development of Malaysia.

Items 6 through 14 (Table 2) were formulated to address research question 2: What are the perceptions of educators and employers regarding the employability of graduates of vocational programs? Regarding employment opportunities (item 6), both educators (M=4.44, SD=.72) and employers (M=4.08, SD=.65) agreed that completers of vocational programs have better employment opportunities than completers of academic programs. For item 7, educators (M=4.12, SD=.74) and employers (M=3.57, SD=.79) agreed that vocational graduates were well prepared to enter the work force. With regard to communication skills of the graduates (item 8), both educators (M=3.46, SD=.88) and employers (M=2.70, SD=.85) were uncertain regarding the communication skills of vocational and technical graduates. Variability was relatively large for both groups. With respect to interpersonal skills (item 9), the educators (M=3.70, SD=.83) agreed that their graduates possessed interpersonal skills but the employers (M=2.89, SD=.89) were unsure. Again, the standard deviations were relatively large which shows dispersed responses. For item 10, employers (M=3.02, SD=.75) were uncertain regarding the self-motivation of vocational graduates, while the educators (M=3.64, SD=.84) agreed that their graduates were self-motivated. Both educators (M=3.72, SD=.82) and employers (M=3.70, SD=.80) agreed that completers of vocational programs possessed technical skills (item 11). However, educators (M=3.38, SD=.91) and employers (M=2.70, SD=.95) were uncertain regarding the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of vocational graduates (item 12). In terms of entrepreneurial skills (item 13), educators (M=3.54, SD=.83) agreed but employers (M=2.26, SD=.92) disagreed that vocational graduates possessed entrepreneurial skills.

Table 1
Role of vocational education and training in economic development of Malaysia.
 
 
 
 
Educators
(n=276)
Employers
(n=53)
  Item M (ME) SD M (ME) SD
1. Vocational education and training
contribute to economic development of
Malaysia.
4.64(.06)
 
 
.53
 
 
4.38(.19)
 
 
.69
 
 
2.
 
 
 
Polytechnics and vocational institutions
have prepared sufficient numbers of
skilled and semi-skilled workers to satisfy
the needs of Malaysia's labor force.
3.78(.12)
 
 
 
1.07
 
 
 
3.02(.27)
 
 
 
.97
 
 
 
3.
 
 
 
 
Polytechnics and vocational programs are
more suitable than regular academic
school programs in responding to the
rapidly changing nature of skills and new
technology.
4.26(.09)
 
 
 
 
.75
 
 
 
 
3.91(.21)
 
 
 
 
.77
 
 
 
 
4.
 
 
 
 
Public vocational institutions and
polytechnics are preparing higher quality
skilled and semi-skilled workers than
private vocational and technical
institutions.
3.60(.12)
 
 
 
 
.97
 
 
 
 
3.06(.24)
 
 
 
 
.89
 
 
 
 
5.
 
 
 
 
Substantial financial investment in
vocational education and training is
justified considering the high employment
rate of vocational graduates.
4.02(.09)
 
 
 
 
.73
 
 
 
 
3.85(.22)
 
 
 
 
.79
 
 
 
 
  Total (Items 1 to 5) 4.06 .46 3.64 .51

Note. (ME) is the margin of error at the 95% confidence level.


The standard deviations on items 8 through 13 for both groups were relatively large, suggesting a lack of consensus among educators and employers regarding the employability skills of vocational graduates. With regard to positive attitudes toward work (item 14), educators (M=3.98, SD=.67) agreed while the employers (M=3.39, SD=.72) were uncertain whether graduates of vocational programs possessed positive attitudes toward work. At a 95 % confidence level, the margins of error for items 6 through 14 ranged from .08 to .11 for educators and .18 to .26 for employers. The total for research question 2 indicates that educators (M=3.77, SD=.55) possessed more favorable attitudes toward the employability of vocational graduates than the employers (M=3.14, SD=.52).

Table 2
Employability of vocational graduates
    Educators
(n=276)
Employers
(n=53)
  Item M (ME) SD M (ME) SD
6.
 
 
 
Vocational graduates have better
employment opportunities than
graduates from academic secondary
schools.
4.44(.09)
 
 
 
.72
 
 
 
4.08(.18)
 
 
 
.65
 
 
 
7.
 
Vocational graduates are well-prepared
to enter the competitive workforce.
4.12(.09)
 
.74
 
3.57(.22)
 
.79
 
8.
 
Vocational graduates possess
necessary communication skills.
3.46(.10)
 
.88
 
2.70(.23)
 
.85
 
9.
 
 
Vocational graduates possess
necessary social and interpersonal
skills.
3.70(.10)
 
 
.83
 
 
2.89(.24)
 
 
.89
 
 
10.
 
Vocational graduates are self-
motivated.
3.64(.10)
 
.84
 
3.02(.20)
 
.75
 
11.
 
 
Vocational graduates possess
necessary technical skills in their
specialization.
3.72(.09)
 
 
.82
 
 
3.70(.22)
 
 
.80
 
 
12.
 
 
Vocational graduates possess
necessary critical thinking and
problem-solving skills.
3.38(.11)
 
 
.91
 
 
2.70(.26)
 
 
.95
 
 
13.
 
Vocational graduates have
entrepreneurial skills.
3.54(.10)
 
.83
 
2.26(.26)
 
.92
 
14.
 
Vocational graduates possess good
attitudes toward work.
3.98(.08)
 
.67
 
3.39(.20)
 
.72
 
  Total (Items 6 to 14) 3.77 .55 3.14 .52

Note. (ME) is the margin of error at the 95% confidence level.


Items 15 through 19 (Table 3) addressed research question 3: What are the factors that facilitate or inhibit the restructuring of vocational education and training in serving the needs of Malaysia's industrialization? These items identified the factors that facilitate or inhibit the restructuring of vocational programs to serve the needs of the labor force. On item 15, educators (M=4.00, SD=.81) and employers (M=3.68, SD=.80) agreed that government is committed to restructuring vocational programs. With respect to business and school partnerships (item 16), educators (M=3.63, SD=.87) agreed but employers (M=3.04, SD=1.09) were unsure about the government's initiatives to link vocational institutions with business and industry. The standard deviations for items 15 and 16 were relatively large, indicating that the responses were dispersed. In terms of the relevancy of the vocational curriculum to the needs of the labor market (item 17), educators agreed (M=3.69, SD=.85) but employers (M=3.43, SD=.82) were uncertain about its relevance. On item 18, both educators (M=3.65, SD=.81) and employers (M=3.52, SD=.63) agreed that the structure of vocational education has become more flexible. Interestingly, both educators (M=4.01, SD=.82) and employers (M=4.11, SD=.93) agreed that public vocational institutions would achieve greater efficiency if they were managed similar to businesses (item 19). The margins of error for items 15 through 19 ranged from .09 to .10 for educators and .17 to .30 for employers. Overall, both educators (M=3.80, SD=.56) and employers (M=3.56, SD=.52) agreed with regard to the role of government in restructuring vocational programs.

Table 4 illustrates the means, margins of error, and standard deviations for items 20 through 26, which addressed research question 4: To what extent do educators and employers believe that government is responsive to the needs of vocational education and training systems? Regarding item 20, both educators (M=3.82, SD=.81) and employers (M=3.55, SD=.70) agreed that the government is responsive to the needs of vocational education and training. On item 21, both educators (M=3.88, SD=.77) and employers (M=3.57, SD=.60) also agreed that the government's policy was focusing on the expansion of vocational education and training. With respect to public funding (item 22), educators (M=3.57, SD=.98) agreed that the government had allocated sufficient funding to upgrade vocational programs while employers (M=3.34, SD=.68) were uncertain. Regarding the provision of adequate facilities and resources for vocational institutions (item 23), educators (M=3.49, SD=.97) and employers (M=3.21, SD=.69) were less certain. For item 24, the educators (M=3.80, SD=.94) agreed that the government is committed to maintaining the high quality of vocational education and training while the employers (M=3.26, SD=.86) were uncertain. Large standard deviations for both groups suggest a relatively large variability of responses. On item 25, educators (M=4.07, SD=.75) and employers (M=4.30, SD=.72) agreed that input from joint public and private sector advisory committees is crucial for the improvement of vocational education and training systems. Employers (M=4.51, SD=.58) strongly agreed and the educators (M=4.26, SD=.75) agreed regarding the perceived positive benefits of technical exchanges between vocational institutions and business/industry (item 26). The relatively small standard deviations for items 25 and 26 indicated strong agreement among respondents. The margins of error for items 20 through 26 ranged from .09 to .12 for educators and from .15 to .24 for employers. The total for research question 4 indicates that both educators (M=3.84, SD=.55) and employers (M=3.68, SD=.43) agreed that the government was responsive to the needs of vocational education and training in Malaysia.

Table 3
Factors that facilitate or inhibit the restructuring of vocational programs
 
 
 
 
Educators
(n=276)
Employers
(n=53)
  Item M(ME) SD M(ME) SD
15.
 
 
The government is committed to restructure
vocational education and training to meet
the needs of Malaysia's industrialization.
4.00(.09)
 
 
.81
 
 
3.68(.22)
 
 
.80
 
 
16.
 
 
 
 
The government provides a clear direction
regarding how to initiate partnerships or
collaboration between vocational
institutions and business/industry.
3.63(.10)
 
 
 
.87
 
 
 
3.04(.30)
 
 
 
1.09
 
 
 
17.
 
 
The technical content of vocational
curriculum is based on the needs in the labor
market.
3.69(.10)
 
 
.85
 
 
3.43(.23)
 
 
.82
 
 
18.
 
 
The structure of vocational education and
training is becoming more flexible in
responding to the changing labor market.
3.65(.09)
 
 
.81
 
 
3.52(.17)
 
 
.63
 
 
19.
 
 
 
Public vocational institutions and
polytechnics would achieve greater
efficiency and productivity if managed like
businesses.
4.01(.10)
 
 
 
.82
 
 
 
4.11(.26)
 
 
 
.93
 
 
 
  Total (Items 15 to 19) 3.80 .56 3.56 .52

Note. (ME) is the margin of error at the 95% confidence level.


Table 4
Government's responsiveness to the needs of vocational education and training
 
 
 
 
Educators
(n=276)
Employers
(n=53)
  Item M(ME) SD M(ME) SD
20.
 
 
The government is responsive
to the needs of vocational
education and training.
3.82(.09)
 
 
.81
 
 
3.55(.19)
 
 
.70
 
 
21.
 
 
 
The government's policy is
focused on expanding
vocational education and
training.
3.88(.09)
 
 
 
.77
 
 
 
3.57(.17)
 
 
 
.60
 
 
 
22.
 
 
 
 
The government allocates
sufficient funding to upgrade
and expand vocational
education and training
programs.
3.57(.11)
 
 
 
 
.98
 
 
 
 
3.34(.18)
 
 
 
 
.68
 
 
 
 
23.
 
 
 
 
The government provides
adequate facilities, equipment,
and resources to vocational
institutions.
3.49(.12)
 
 
 
.97
 
 
 
3.21(.19)
 
 
 
.69
 
 
 
24.
 
 
 
 
The government is committed
to maintaining the high quality
standards of vocational
education and training
programs.
3.80(.11)
 
 
 
 
.94
 
 
 
 
3.26(.24)
 
 
 
 
.86
 
 
 
 
25.
 
 
 
 
Input from joint public and
private sector advisory
committees is crucial for the
improvement of vocational
education and training.
4.07(.09)
 
 
 
 
.75
 
 
 
 
4.30(.20)
 
 
 
 
.72
 
 
 
 
26.
 
 
 
Exchange of technical expertise
between vocational institutions
and business/industry is
beneficial for both parties.
4.26(.09)
 
 
 
.7
 
 
 
4.51(.15)
 
 
 
.58
 
 
 
  Total (Items 20 to 26) 3.84 .55 3.68 .43

Note. (ME) is the margin of error at the 95% confidence level.


Implications and Conclusions

Role of Vocational Education and Training

The results reveal that educators and employers believed that vocational education and training contributed to the economic development of Malaysia. In addition, educators and employers believed that a substantial financial investment in vocational education and training is justified. Further, they believed that vocational programs were more appropriate than academic programs for developing new skills and the ability to use contemporary technologies. This implies that the government and private sector should invest in vocational education and training in Malaysia.

Employability of Vocational Graduates

In terms of the employability of vocational graduates, educators and employers in Malaysia believed that the completers of vocational programs had better employment opportunities than completers of academic programs. Further, educators and employers indicated that vocational graduates possessed more than adequate technical skills. However, both groups were less satisfied regarding the motivation, communication, interpersonal, critical thinking, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills of the vocational graduates. This clearly suggests that employability and generalizable skills should be integrated into vocational programs.

Government's Commitment toward Restructuring Vocational Education and Training

Educators and employers perceived that the government of Malaysia is committed to restructuring vocational programs. However, both educators and employers favored a business approach to the management of public vocational education and training. This suggests the need to reduce bureaucracy and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of vocational institutions at the secondary and post-secondary levels. In addition, the government should seriously consider decentralizing the management of public vocational institutions and encourage the expansion of private and community-supported vocational training institutions, as suggested by Psacharopoulos, Tan, and Jimenez (1986).

Furthermore, employers perceived that vocational curricula had questionable relevance to the contemporary needs of business and industry. Employers' participation in school-business partnerships was minimal. This suggests that vocational education and training institutions should conduct continuous needs assessments to create relevant curriculum. Governmental agencies should also initiate outreach programs to establish school-business partnerships and collaboration with the private sector.

Government's Responsiveness to the Needs of Vocational Education and Training

In general, educators and employers believed that the government responded less than satisfactorily to the management of human resource needs. Employers were not aware of government initiatives to seek input from business and industry. The implication is that government and its agencies need to be more proactive rather than reactive in responding to human resource needs. This can be accomplished by eliciting input from business and industry and creating meaningful partnerships with the private sector. With limited financial resources, government must identify alternatives to encourage the private sector to invest in upgrading vocational education and training. This is only feasible if the private sector is convinced that there are mutual benefits and favorable returns.

In general, educators and employers believed that government was responsive to the needs of vocational training and was focusing on the expansion of vocational education and training. However, educators and employers also believed that the government's Ministry of Education, in particular, had not allocated adequate funds to upgrade and expand vocational programs. Similarly, inadequate facilities and resources inhibited efforts to maintain high quality standards for vocational education and training.

Government should seek employers and private sector involvement in financing and expanding vocational education and training. The issue of quality and standards is another area that needs to be addressed. In this study, employers indicated that to improve vocational education, emphasis should be focused on establishing and maintaining quality standards for vocational programs. Quality standards include entrance requirements, teacher certification, accreditation, and standardized assessment.

As expected, educators and employers believed that input from the public and private sector advisory committees is crucial for the improvement of vocational education and training systems. Similarly, educators and employers were in support of technical exchanges between vocational institutions and business/industry. This implies that a paradigm shift is needed, in which collaboration and partnerships between schools and business/industry are viewed as the vehicles that will advance the industrialization agenda.

Recommendations

Based on the results and limitations of this study, several recommendations for policy, practice, and future research are offered:

  1. The government should work collaboratively with the private sector to maintain and expand vocational education and training in Malaysia. In particular, the government should draw upon the resources of employers and solicit private sector investment in vocational education and training.
  2. Federal, state, and local agencies should provide a clear vision and mission for vocational education and training. In addition, the government should provide effective leadership and incentives to the private sector to encourage partnerships and collaboration with vocational institutions.
  3. The government, especially the Ministry of Education, should seek input from numerous stakeholders, such as educators, business/industry personnel, parents, students, academicians, and other professionals, before formulating major policy decisions regarding vocational education and training.
  4. A balanced approach should be emphasized in the school curriculum through the integration of technical, employability, and generalizable skills in vocational programs. In addition, vocational curricula should be flexible and responsive to the present and future needs of the nation.
  5. The government should reduce bureaucracy and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of vocational programs. Further, the Ministry of Education should consider decentralizing the management of public vocational institutions and encourage the expansion of private and community-supported vocational schools and training institutions.
  6. Policymakers should introduce legislation related to new reform initiatives such as school/business partnerships, school-to-work activities, technology preparation, and workforce development to sustain employer and private sector commitment to education, training, and human resource development.

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Mobley, C.D. (1998). North Carolina employers' perceptions of essential skills for entry-level employment of high schools graduates: Implications for educational leadership. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, East Carolina University.

Mustapha, R. (1999). The role of vocational and technical education in the industrialization of Malaysia as perceived by educators and employers. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Matthews, E. (1987). Attitudes of public school superintendents in Kentucky toward vocational education at the high school level. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Cincinnati.

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Psacharopoulos, G., Tan, J.P., & Jimenez, E. (1986). Financing education in developing countries: An exploration of policy options. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Pryor, W.D. (1984). A study of the attitudes of high school administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers in Nacogdoches County, Texas toward vocational education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, East Texas State University.

Williams, C.G., & Hornsby, H.H. (1989). Vocationalism in U.S. and U.K. high schools. Economics of Education Review, 8(1), 37-47.


Mustapha is Professor at The National University of Malaysia in Selangor, Malaysia (ramlee@pkrisc.cc.ukm.my). Greenan is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana (jgreenan@purdue.edu).


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