At a recent talk that I gave at MAHSA University, the age-old question of the purpose of education came about in the Q&A session. I had been articulating an apprenticeship-based programme called PERANTIS ISKANDAR which focuses on matching currently available jobs with unemployed youth through a screening and training programme that starts with a conditional job offer. While I am a strong advocate of education that produces responsible citizens, employability, if it is not the end-all and be-all, is also a desirable outcome. An apprenticeship-based approach is well placed to deliver this if designed and implemented well.
We have all probably gone through an internship programme early in our working journey. Stories of making coffee, photocopying and numerous other menial tasks abound. On the other hand, formal apprenticeship programmes are often highly structured practical experiences in the industry tied to academic outcomes and credits as part of an academic qualification. We posit that another approach seems highly relevant to our current environment. We call it the ‘Perantis’ship Model, whose name is taken from the Malay translation of the word ‘apprenticeship’.
PERANTIS Iskandar is a Youth Employment and Training Programme based in Johor funded by the Penjana Fund via Iskandar Region Development Authority (IRDA). Unlike the plethora of government-funded training programmes out there, PERANTIS Iskandar begins with a conditional job offer of 12 months with a minimum salary of RM2,000 per month after a successful screening process of unemployed youth.
The ‘Perantis’ is then taken through both classroom and on-the-job training before beginning gainful employment. The Industry Partner is selected based on the quality of future-proofed jobs they offer; this often has an element of technology as an integral part of the position. EduCity Academy manages this programme which was launched in December 2021.
PERANTIS Iskandar is an example of the ‘Perantis’ship Model that addresses the pandemic-induced spike in unemployment among the youth of Johor. We are working on expanding the programme to other states in Malaysia with the help of various foundations and state agencies. However, this programme seeks to address the issue after the students’ graduation; we felt there is a need to reverse-engineer and integrate this approach into the current academic ecosystem.
This approach may assist in bridging the gap between industry job requirements and academic offerings to address the perennial job mismatch issue. Numerous jobs are available but not matched by the graduating and graduated students pool. The mismatch is due to changes in the industry and market demands and practices, rapid changes in technology, and pivoting businesses.
We believe these approaches should also be reverse-engineered into academic programmes to address the mismatch pre-graduation. We are setting up EduCity International College (EIC) as a platform to achieve this via our designed Industry-based Diploma Programmes. We have partnered with some of our Authorised Industry Partners (AIP) from the PERANTIS Iskandar Programme to develop a Diploma Programme based on their in-company training content and for them to teach it!
EIC will submit it as an MQA Accredited Programme and infuse the pedagogical and assessment methodologies as well as the requisite content required by MQA. Our AIPs would also receive a percentage of the revenue in return for keeping the programme continually updated and relevant to the current situation. We believe this symbiotic relationship would create an optimal balance between industry relevance and academic rigour.
We hope that these efforts will help address the issues of post-pandemic unemployment and lay the foundations for substantive and meaningful industry-academic talent development. EduCity Iskandar Malaysia seeks to bridge these gaps to provide a comprehensive talent pipeline for Iskandar Malaysia, Malaysia and the region.
Wan Ahmad Saifuddin Wan Ahmad Radzi is the Managing Director of EduCity Malaysia Sdn Bhd.