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Public varsities need hard reset to meet market demand, says Ramasamy

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy today said public universities should find ways to be financially sustainable by forging ties with relevant industry partners, instead of relying on government handouts.

Ramasamy, who is state education and human resources development committee chairman, said with the government tightening its belt on spending, universities should embark on creative ways to get their projects done through tie-ups with companies.

He said over the years, public universities had been given lots of funding but the results were unsatisfactory.

Hence, he said, universities should go for a hard reset and force a rethink of how it should stay relevant to the workforce demand in the market by creating links with those in the industry.

“Public universities over the decades have been doing things as they liked, sitting in their ivory towers, claiming that they know best. And look how that turned out.

“So, it is time that the universities rethink their ways to produce a competent workforce for the job market. If not, we would not have the skilled workforce, such as technicians and engineers.

“I am not saying that the entire university system should change to comply with industrial requirements, but merely factor their needs into the courses they offer,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference here today.

Ramasamy said these changes are vital to enable the country’s economy to stay resilient and not be overtaken by competing economies like Indonesia and Vietnam.

He said if the skills training push had begun sooner, the country could have reduced its reliance on foreign labour over time.

“For starters, the government must find ways to eradicate the stigma that vocational or skills training is for students who have failed in their exams.

“The idea that polytechnic or vocational schools are dumps for those who have failed to excel in studies must be changed.

“We need to educate the people that vocational schooling is the way forward.”

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