• Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Lao PDR
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Timor Leste
  • Vietnam


This profile is represented by the Ministry of Education (MoE). SEA-VET.NET shall supplement more information particularly from polytechnics, as well as other TVET line Ministries, private TVET institutions and relevant agencies in the course of time. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to share more information to help further develop the profile.

Key Indicators

  • Capital

    Kuala Lumpur 

  • Main Industries/Sectors

    Oil & Gas; Palm Oil; Rubber; Financial Services; Tourism




Malaysia aspires to break the middle-income trap and become a high-income economy by 2020. The National Transformation Programme (NTP) that was launched in 2010 is in line with the socio-economic aspirations of the nation. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), in particular is seen to be instrumental in achieving the goals and objectives of the NTP.1,2,3

Given the significant role played by TVET, the Government of Malaysia has taken various strategic steps to strengthen and transform TVET in the country. Specifically, TVET has been acknowledged as the third core in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) to elevate human resources development and make TVET transformation a focus area.4 Furthermore, ‘TVET Malaysia’,5 a key effort to achieve TVET transformation, aims to centralise all TVET institutions, programmes and governance agencies under a central federal authority.

Currently, seven different federal government ministries are responsible for TVET in Malaysia. While the Ministry of Education (MoE) is the main government authority, the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) and the Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR) also play an important role in TVET.

Formal TVET is offered at both, secondary and post-secondary levels. At the secondary level, students can pursue a two-year technical programme at technical schools or a vocational programme [a two-year Malaysian Vocational Diploma (DVM)/Higher Secondary Vocational Education (PVMA)/Higher Secondary Industrial Apprenticeship (PIMA)]. At the post-secondary level, TVET programmes are provided by universities, colleges, and polytechnics. Vocational and technical programmes leading to a certificate last one to two years, and programmes leading to a diploma last two to three years. Tertiary TVET programmes focus on, amongst others: secretarial science, engineering, design and visual communication, commerce and hospitality, graphics, mechanical maintenance and civil construction. Non-formal and informal TVET involves technical and vocational courses offered by technical schools at pre-employment or job-entry level to schools leavers, indigenous people etc.

Malaysia has been engaging the private sector in various efforts to develop TVET including defining specifications of competencies under the National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS) and enabling industry-led programmes to reduce skills mismatch through the Industry Skills Council (ISC).

The Vocational Education Transformation Plan and the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 are driving current programmes and initiatives, which support the achievement of goals stated in the 11MP.

This profile outlines the TVET system in Malaysia and provides information on more recent efforts and developments.


The economic agenda in Malaysia expects to create new jobs, with targeted improvements in labour productivity and reduced dependency on low-skilled foreign workers, both of which are a result of the continuous shift from labour-intensive to knowledge- and innovation-based economic activities.

The mission of TVET in Malaysia is to increase skilled human capital by providing quality education and training that will be applicable in the labour market, for further studies or entrepreneurship.


A number of laws and acts have been put forward and implemented for the development of a demand-led skilled workforce steered by technical and vocational skills training. In general, these align with the national educational and employment goals and lay the foundation for formulation of strategies. Some key ones are:

  • The Education Act 1996 (Act 550) covers all education levels. It primarily focuses on pre-primary, primary, secondary and post-secondary education. The Act stipulates the use of the national language (Bahasa Melayu) as the medium of instruction and calls on all schools to implement the national curriculum, unless exempted. This Act stipulates that technical education in national secondary schools and other educational institutions including polytechnics are legal entities in the National Education System. Other programmes, such as at Community Colleges can also be established by the Minister in charge.
  • The National Skills Development Act 2006 (Act 625) has established the National Skills Development Council and the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS).
  • Malaysia Board of Technologists Act (MBOT, Act 768) has established the professional body – MBOT1, which is responsible for the Professional Recognition of Technologists and Technicians in relation to technology and technical fields. MBOT expands its function vertically and horizontally, whereby it looks at technology-based professions that cut across discipline-based fields. It involves a whole range of aspects starting from conceptual design to a realised technology and covers Technicians (with SKM/Diploma Level), as well as Technologists (Bachelor’s Degree level and above). As a whole, these professionals (Technologists and Technicians) have integrated roles from concept to realisation.

The TVET strategy is defined by the current and anticipated future educational and work landscape, according to which:

  • 60% of the jobs that will be created are expected to require TVET-related skills. In that regard, TVET is identified as a game changer in how Malaysia produces skilled talent; and
  • TVET is seen as an important pathway for vocational education and skills development, as well as a major platform for lifelong learning. This is based on Shift 4 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) that focuses on Quality of TVET Graduates.

In line with the TVET mission, the promotion of TVET programmes is focussed on:

  1. improving the efficiency of the labour market to accelerate economic growth;
  2. transforming TVET to meet industry demand;
  3. strengthening lifelong learning for skills enhancement; and
  4. improving the quality of the education system for better student outcomes and institutional excellence.

Specifically, four strategies and corresponding initiatives are based on the global strategy for TVET recommended by UNESCO.2,3 These are:

  • Strategy A: Enhancing industry-led curriculum
  • Strategy B: Creating integrated and coordinated governance structure.
  • Strategy C: Streamlining qualifications
  • Strategy D: Rebranding of TVET

While a number of ministries are responsible for TVET in Malaysia, the Ministry of Education is the main government authority for technical and vocational education and training.

The Ministry of Education Malaysia is responsible for the administration and coordination of TVET policy of all four universities under the Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN), 36 Polytechnics, 102 Community Colleges and 81 vocational colleges. The MoE also oversees TVET programmes and curricula in other public and private universities, including formal TVET programmes at secondary schools.

Other key ministries responsible for administering TVET in Malaysia include:

  • The Ministry of Higher Education, which oversees TVET programmes in public and private universities, polytechnics and community colleges;
  • The Ministry of Human Resources, which is in charge of industrial training institutes (ILPs) and provides non-formal TVET programmes. It operates skills training institutes offering programmes at basic, intermediate and advanced levels through the Majlis Amanah Rakyat Malaysia (MARA), as well as oversees the National Vocational Training Council (NVTC) – the agency responsible for quality control, accreditation of training providers and course certification;
  • The Ministry of Youth and Sports, which provides basic, intermediate and advanced levels of industrial skills training programmes at training centres, especially at the Youth Advanced Skills Training Centre;
  • The Ministry of Defence through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for conducting vocational training for army veterans. The department monitors the implementation of the pre-resettlement, resettlement and post-resettlement courses and training conducted by PERHEBAT;
  • The Ministry of Works, which offers TVET Training through affiliated agencies such as Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Akademi Binaan Malaysia (ABM);
  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, which is providing a new stream of skilled workers to the agricultural sector under Program Latihan Kemahiran Pertanian Kebangsaan (PLKPK) conducted by National Agricultural Training Council (NATC); and
  • The Ministry of Rural Development, which offers TVET programmes by conducting certificates and diploma level programmes in Institut Kemahiran MARA (IKM), Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi MARA (KKTM) and Giat MARA.

TVET is funded by the government, through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources.

The Ministry of Human Resources, for instance provides the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) through the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC). The Fund operates as a levy/grant system, which charges employers a set amount and provides training grants in return.


National Education System

Malaysia has established a strong infrastructure to support the learning process at different levels of life. The National Education System at school level under the category of government education institutions consists of pre-school, primary, secondary and post-secondary education.

The existing formal school system (fig. 1) has a 6 - 3 - 2 structure. Primary education (a period of 6 years) and secondary education (5 years which encompasses 3 years of lower secondary and 2 years of upper secondary) make up 11 years of education. The typical age for admission to the first year of primary education is seven. By law, six years of primary schooling is mandatory for all children between the ages of 7 and 12.

After completing 6 years of primary education, students proceed to secondary education, which is divided into two cycles, lower and upper secondary. Following lower secondary examination, students choose one of these three streams:

  1. Technical - a two-year technical programme (Technical Schools);
  2. Academic - a two-year academic programme (Conventional Schools); or
  3. Vocational - a two-year Malaysian Vocational Diploma (DVM)/Higher Secondary Vocational Education (PVMA)/Higher Secondary Industrial Apprenticeship (PIMA).

Students sit for common public examinations at the end of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels. At the end of the 11 years of education, a student sits for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) examination in order to proceed to a pre- university programme offered at Matriculation Colleges, Foundation Programmes offered at Universities, or takes the Malaysian High School Certificate (STPM) examination, or enters the world of work.

Preschool to secondary education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (MOE), while tertiary and higher education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). Although education is the responsibility of the federal government, each state has an Education Department to coordinate educational matters in its territory. The main legislation governing education is the Education Act of 1996. Education may be obtained from the multilingual public school system, which provides free education for all Malaysians, or private schools, or through home schooling.

Education pathways

Figure 1: Education Pathways in Malaysia (Source: Pemandu Padu TVET Lab Study, 2014)


TVET System

Formal TVET System

TVET programmes in Malaysia are offered at certificate, diploma, degree and post-graduate levels by seven ministries. This includes the Ministry of Education (MOE), which offers majority of the TVET programmes to the highest number of students.

TVET at Secondary Level

Upon passing the lower secondary examination, students can pursue vocational and technical education by opting for one of the following two programmes:

  1. Two-year technical programme (Technical Schools); or
  2. Vocational programme
    1. Four-year Malaysian Vocational Diploma (DVM)
    2. Higher Secondary Vocational Education (PVMA): 2 Years Skills Training + SPM
    3. Higher Secondary Industrial Apprenticeship (PIMA): 2 Years Apprenticeship Programmes + SPM

In addition to these courses, traineeship programmes are available for students who are enrolled in upper secondary schools in the skill stream. The programmes are coordinated by schools and the industry/sector, and require students to work in industry two days a week.

TVET at Post-secondary Level

At the post-secondary level, school leavers who have completed SPM can enrol at MOHE’s Kolej Komuniti (community colleges), polytechnics and MTUN (Malaysia Technical University Network) for vocational education to pursue certificate, diploma and advanced diploma qualifications. Vocational and technical programmes leading to a certificate last one to two years, and programmes leading to a diploma last two to three years respectively. The STPM/Matriculation school leavers and Diploma holders can advance to MTUN’s bachelor’s degree qualifications.

Apart from public institutions, there are various private TVET institutions that offer TVET programmes at the certificate, diploma and degree level. Graduates from public and private TVET institutions can pursue post-graduate programmes offered at MTUN.

Tertiary TVET programmes focus on, amongst others: secretarial science, engineering, design and visual communication, commerce and hospitality, graphics, mechanical maintenance and civil construction.

TVET education can also come under the training approved by the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC), which utilises the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). It caters for industry needs to retrain, further upgrade skills, and advance and enrich the career of employees.

Lifelong Learning (LLL) is adopted by both polytechnics and community colleges to expand learning choices and enhances people’s quality of life by offering academic programmes through short courses. Polytechnic and community colleges deliver various short courses with the aim to enhance and develop knowledgeable communities, provide training for upskilling and reskilling for the workforce, and provide strategic networking to strengthen socio-economic activities among local clientele and stakeholders. The LLL programmes offered at polytechnics and community colleges vary based on the type of courses offered, as well as on the request of industries and local communities.

In addition, various other agencies supported by TVET line ministries offer programmes that cater for different needs and fields, such as:

  • 23 Industrial Training Institutes (ILPs) - under the Ministry of Human Resources - provide apprenticeships in order to teach technical, social and learning skills. ILPs offer industrial skills training programmes at certificate, advanced certificate and diploma level for pre-employment or job-entry level, while eight Advanced Technology Centres (ADTECs) and Japan Malaysia Technical Institute (JMTI) offer diploma and advanced diploma programmes. Apprenticeship programmes include mechanical, electrical, building and printing trades as well as programmes to upgrade skills and train instructors. The Ministry also operates the Centre for Instructors and Advanced Skills Training (CIAST), which trains TVET instructors to upgrade skills at all levels across all TVET institutes. ILPs follow the National Dual Training System (NDTS), which is based on the German dual training system. It stresses the combination and interrelation of hands-on training at the industry workplace with classroom training at specialised training institutions established by the government. Training takes two years with trainees spending 70-80% of their time at workplaces and the remaining 20-30% at selected training institutions.
  • The Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) Malaysia – under the Ministry of Rural Development – operates skills training institutes offering programmes at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. MARA also coordinates the operations of three advanced skills training institutions: the German-Malaysian Institute (GMI), British Malaysian Institute (BMI) and Malaysia France Institute (MFI).
  • PERHEBAT - under the Department of Veterans Affairs (Ministry of Defence) - conducts pre-resettlement, resettlement and post-resettlement vocational training courses for army veterans.
  • The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Akademi Binaan Malaysia (ABM) - under the Ministry of Works - offer TVET Training on building and construction.
  • Youth Advanced Skills Training Centre in particular – under the Ministry of Youth and Sports - provides basic, intermediate and advanced levels of industrial skills training programmes.
  • The National Agricultural Training Council (NATC) – under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry – is providing a new stream of skilled workers to the agricultural sector under Program Latihan Kemahiran Pertanian Kebangsaan (PLKPK).

Non-Formal & Informal TVET System

The Ministry of Education runs 90 technical schools offering technical and vocational courses to school leavers from the technical schools. Furthermore, the ILPs and Youth Advanced Skills Training Centre too offer non-formal training at pre-employment or job-entry level.

The Council of Trust for the Indigenous People – under the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development – operates twelve skills training institutes offering programmes at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. The Council also coordinates the operations of three advanced skills training institutions: the German-Malaysian Institute (GMI), British Malaysian Institute (BMI) and Malaysia France Institute (MFI).

National Qualifications Framework

The Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF), which was approved under the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act, 2007, sets the qualification standards for all qualifications in the higher education and training sectors.

A qualification awarded by a registered institution represents what a graduate has acquired, in terms of knowledge, skills, competencies and value, upon successful completion of a named programme of study. The MQF classifies qualifications based on academic learning outcomes and a credit system based on academic load. The Framework allows for mobility within the education system and provides for prior learning recognition. The MQF aims to offer a transparent and reliable point of reference for local and international qualifications, supports programme design through specific learning outcomes for each qualification, and allows for open access to education.

As shown in Table 1, the MQF is composed of eight qualification levels. These levels differ according to learning outcomes, credit hours and student learning hours. Prior learning is recognized at all qualification levels.

Table 1: Malaysian Qualifications Framework (2nd Edition)p30

National Qualifications Framework

With the 11th Malaysian Development Plan (2015-2020), the scope of MQF refers to qualification types from two sectors, i.e., academic and TVET. It is a unifying framework of all qualifications in Malaysia. The MQF describes the levels of learning, generic learning outcomes, level descriptors, credits and single qualification title for each level to be applied in both academic and TVET type qualifications.

Levels 1 to 5 give special focus to TVET or work-type qualifications. Learners from TVET may proceed to higher qualifications at the universities in normally relevant applied programmes. The school-based qualifications are considered as entry qualifications and they may equate to Levels 3 and 4, which is subject to further verifications. 

Each level in MQF is provided with generic statements, which describes the learning achievement at a particular level. The MQF’s eight levels of learning achievement as currently practiced are comparable to regional frameworks. Certificates are at Levels 1-3, Diploma and Advanced Diploma at Level 4-5 and Degrees at Levels 6, 7 and 8 for Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral qualifications respectively. The levels are read together with the levels descriptors, which broadly characterise the learning achievement and set the assessment standards at each level (refer to Malaysian Qualifications Framework 2nd Edition: Level Descriptors; Appendix 2, pages 31-37)

Quality Assurance & Standards

The National Vocational Training Council (NVTC) - under the Ministry of Human Resources - is the national body responsible for quality control, accreditation of training providers and course certification. NVTC accredits TVET providers to undertake training and assessment in specific skill programmes at different skill levels. Accreditation is granted for the duration of 3 years after which TVET providers are required to submit an application for the renewal of accreditation within a period of 3 months before the accreditation expires. Re-accreditation is usually extended for another time period of 3 years.

The accreditation of training providers is conducted by assessors, and internal and external verifiers. Assessors and internal verifiers are appointed by accredited TVET providers and perform in-house assessment, as well as internal verification based on documentation and procedures stipulated by NVTC. External verifiers are officials accredited and appointed by NVTC to ensure full conformity of the assessment and carrying out of internal verification at accredited TVET institutions.

As a part of quality control, the NVTC formulates, promotes and coordinates industrial and vocational training strategy and programmes, including implementing a national skills certification programme. Some of the main functions of the NVTC include: (1) assessing skills needs; (2) developing the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS); (3) implementing the national skills certification programme; (4) promoting skills training and skill-based careers; (5) upgrading the capabilities of training personnel; and (5) conducting study/research on skills training.

The National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS) is defined as a specification of competencies expected of a skilled worker who is gainfully employed in Malaysia for an occupational area, level and pathway to achieve the competencies. It was developed together with the industrial experts in line with the provisions under National Skills Development Act 2006 (Act 652).

The National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS) are developed by the National Vocational Training Council (NVTC) in order to ensure that skills training programmes conducted in Malaysia are benchmarked against actual workplace requirements. NOSS is defined as competencies expected of a skilled worker who is employed for a particular occupational area or level.

The NOSS is expected to provide opportunities to community and industry to avail services offered by the Department of Skills Development (DSD) and other related agencies through:

  • Malaysian Skills Certification through Accreditation System, National Dual Training System (NDTS), and Recognition of Prior Achievement (RPA);
  • Recognition of National Industry Expert; and
  • Development of training curriculum.

Based on the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS), the National Skills Qualification Framework (SKM Qualification Framework) aims to develop skilled and trained workers with the necessary qualifications in order to increase the competitiveness of the local industry in the global market. The double qualification structure (MQF and SKM) is based on two types of qualifications, namely academic qualifications and the skills qualifications. The SKM has five levels, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Definition of competencies for each of the five levels of SKM



Malaysian Skills Advanced Diploma Level 5 – Management Level

Competent in applying a significant range of fundamental principles and complex techniques across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts. Very substantial personal autonomy. Often significant responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of substantial resources feature strongly, as do personal accountabilities for analysis and diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation. Specialisation of technical skills should be demonstrated.

Malaysian Skills Diploma Level 4 – Supervisory Level

Competent in performing a broad range of complex technical or professional work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts and with a substantial degree of personal responsibility and autonomy. Responsibility for the work of others and allocation of resources is often present. Higher level of technical skills should be demonstrated.

Malaysian Skills Certificate Level 3 – Supervisory Level

Competent in performing a broad range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts, most of which are complex and non-routine. There is considerable responsibility and autonomy and control; guidance of others is often required.

Malaysian Skills Certificate Level 2 – Operation and Production Level

Competent in performing a significant range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts. Some of the activities are non-routine and require individual responsibility and autonomy.

Malaysian Skills Certificate Level 1 – Operation and Production Level

Competent in performing a range of varied work activities, most of which are routine and predictable.



According to the 2016 Graduate Surveillance Review conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education in 2016, the average rate of Malaysian graduates' marketability increased by 1.1% to 77.2% in 2016 compared to 76.1% in 2015. Marketability level of graduates from Malaysian Technical Universities (MTUN) was 87.1% followed by Polytechnics (88.6%) and Community College (97.2%).

A total of 224,575 graduates participated in the study; out of these, 126,966 people (56.5%) had been employed within 6 months of graduation, 32,063 people (14.3%) were successfully pursuing studies, 5,246 people (2.3%) chose to improve their skills and 9,053 (4.0%) were waiting for job placement. Remaining 51,247 graduates (22.8%) were still unemployed.

Graduates in education showed highest graduates at 88.3% followed by technical graduates (80.2%) and information and communications technology (78.4%).

Personnel (Teachers)

Recruitment Process and Composition of TVET Teachers and Trainers

Matters related to the civil service are under the responsibility of the Public Service Department. All appointments to the public service must meet the following requirements:

  • All candidates for appointment to the public service must be Malaysian citizens; and
  • Meet the requirements set by the Education Service Commission for employment in the Ministry of Education. Candidates are interviewed before they are appointed.

The current selection process to teacher education programmes in Malaysian public universities was introduced in 2008. Figure 2 below indicates the chronology of this process. Since 2007, MoHE requires the qualified candidates for those that meet the minimum academic qualifications, to sit for the MEdSI (Malaysian Teacher Education Selection Inventory) test.

Recruitment process

Figure 2: Teachers' Recruitment Process (Source: UTHM)

A cut-off point for selection to the interview phase is based on their MEdSI performance, which is dependent on technical factors such as; the number of applications received and; number of places available. Usually, the candidates that attend the interview are normally three times the number of places available. The interview is normally conducted by a panel of three teacher educators who look into the candidates based on their competency in language, qualities in leadership and also self-motivation and attitude towards teaching.

However, candidates have to go through further special practical screening process for certain subject’s specialisation such as languages, arts, sports, and music. The marks scored for the different components such as academic, MEdSI and interview are computed; the aggregate score is used to rank the candidates. Candidates’ selection is based on their ranking on the rank list. 

Requirement to attend degree education programmes under the MoHE through the public universities caters to teachers for secondary schools. The pool of candidates comes from the Higher School Certificates (STPM), Matriculation Programmes, Diplomas, Bachelor and Teacher Education Certificates.

For Polytechnics and Community Colleges, all lecturers must have at least a diploma level qualification. They are given the opportunity to pursue higher education up to the level of doctors of philosophy (PhD). The lecturers are also required to attend various training courses for personal and career advancement. There are currently 10,310 Higher Education Officers comprising 7,519 in polytechnics and 2,791 in community colleges.

Teacher Education - Governance and Quality Control

Teacher education has been the subject of much policy contestation between different providers namely the Public Universities and the Institutes of Teacher Education. Colleges have been upgraded to universities for the purpose to retain the teacher training colleges.

Other than that, there are many frameworks and qualification processes that a public university has to undergo before a program can be offered or modified. The potential programme is first proposed, and then put under the scrutiny of the faculty board. It then goes through a number of processes before being tabled in the university senate. It also needs the sanctions of the Ministry of Higher Education and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). The programme also must meet the standards of the Teacher Education Unit of the MoHE requirement. Graduates then have to face the Education Service Board before being accepted into the public teaching scheme.

Governance is tied to the issue of quality assurance and quality assurance in turn is tied to accreditation. In other words, the nature of teacher education programmes is subject to scrutiny at inception and official approval when an institution applies for accreditation and continues with regular monitoring and inspection once approval has been secured. Teacher education programmes in Malaysian public universities are governed by politics, institution and professional bodies.

Teachers’ Professional Development

There have been numerous in-service teacher education programs in Malaysian public universities that have almost exclusively been requested by the MoE. However, these programmes were mainly upgrading exercises to upgrade the teachers’ rank and salary category. The only claim it has as an in-service programme is that the participants consisted of serving teachers. These services are solely for non-graduate teachers to upgrade their qualification to the bachelor degree level. One such programme is called PKPG (Special Programme for Non-Graduate Teachers). Those selected were given full or part paid leave to pursue their studies in public universities

Nonetheless, the MoE conducts numerous in-service courses when there are changes in policies such as the introduction of mathematics and science in English. However, even those professional development courses and workshops that have the most positive impact may not be relevant to all teachers.

Currently there are 12 faculties/schools of education in the public universities (20 altogether) and 1 Education University. They come in different sizes with UPSI (Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris) being the biggest. In regard to academic qualification, the Malaysian university-level teacher education qualification is rather high as shown in Table 3. The Malaysian teacher education is still dominated by degree courses, though Master students form a very significant minority among all student teachers. Furthermore, PhD studies have been firmly embedded into the system, doctoral candidates representing almost a tenth of all students.

Table 3: Breakdown of student teachers by level of study (%) (Source: UTHM)

Level of Study % of Student Teachers







Private Sector Cooperation

According to the 11th Malaysia Plan, 60% of the 1.5 million jobs that will be created between 2016 and 2020 will require TVET-related skills. Resultantly, the five-year plan includes initiatives to enable industry-led TVET to meet the demand for such graduates, as well as the demands of industry 4.0. The Malaysian Government is now following a more coordinated approach to boost TVET by engaging and partnering with the private sector in its efforts to meet new demands.

In addition, the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), as part of a research cooperation project between GIZ and OECD, has been a part of the Work based learning (WBL) programme. The programme aims to revitalise the TVET Teachers Training Systems in Malaysia through a PPP model, involving the private sector, public universities and the government. In cooperation with industry a new, integrated occupational-technical and academic curriculum has been developed, which contains elements of coordinated classroom and workplace learning. The WBL structured degree programme consists of 6 semesters in the institution and 2 semesters in the industry.

In the past, Malaysia has engaged the private sector in defining specifications of competencies under the National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS) - it was developed together with the industrial experts in line with the provisions under National Skills Development Act 2006 (Act 652). The NOSS lists out the competencies expected of a skilled worker who is gainfully employed in Malaysia for an occupational area, level and pathway. The NOSS provides opportunities to community and industry to access services offered by the Department of Skills Development (DSD) and other related agencies. Likewise, the DSD provides assistance and guidance to ensure that all companies and enterprises participate in the National Dual Training System, which is an industry-oriented training programme that combines workplace and institutional training. The National Development Planning Committee also established the Industry Skills Council (ISC), which enhances quality and delivery of TVET programmes to improve graduate employability by enabling industry-led programmes to reduce skills mismatch. The ISC, in collaboration with industry players, identifies relevant competencies for each sector and sub-sector. The Industry Working Group also recommends policies, strategies and action plans for the development of skilled and competent human resource for industry to ISC.

Apart from this, the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC), runs apprenticeship and training grant schemes, as well as other basic skills training programmes in: mechatronics, hotel and tourism, manufacturing, and information technology. To encourage the private sector to support traineeship programmes, under the apprenticeship scheme, employers are eligible for a 100% reimbursement of training costs made up of apprentices’ monthly allowances, insurance and training materials.

To promote TVET at secondary level, traineeship programmes are available for students who are enrolled in upper secondary schools in the skill stream. The programmes are coordinated by schools and the industry sector, and require students to work in industry two days a week.

Current Trends & Practices

Malaysia Plan  

During the Tenth Malaysia Plan (10MP), 2011-2015, the Government introduced several ways to improve the labour market and transform the education system. One of achievements in 10MP was the creation of 1.8 million new jobs from 3.3% in 2010 to 2.9% in 2015. The government also introduced the minimum wage that benefited 1.9 million payee recipients. Specifically in education, there has been an increase in enrollment at all levels, from preschool to tertiary. Annual recruitment for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) also increased from 113,000 in 2010 to 164,000 in 2013.  In continuation to this, the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (11MP), 2016-2020, furthers the agenda to produce knowledgeable and skilled human capital to compete in the global economy. The economic agenda outlined in the 11th Plan is expected to create 1.5 million jobs ahead of year 2020 with the aim to improve productivity of labour and reduce dependence on low-skilled foreign workers. 60% of the jobs to be created are expected to require TVET skills.  

Human Capital Development 

Human capital development is a critical factor in generating and maintaining the country's economic growth. The ability to provide highly skilled workforce is essential to support the transition of all economic sectors towards country's aspirations. In line with the 11MP, the government is focusing on four priority areas to:

  1. Improve labour market efficiency
  2. Transform TVET to meet industry demand
  3. Strengthen lifelong learning to improve skills
  4. Improve the quality of education by improving student outcomes

Following the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), Malaysia continues to strengthen the TVET system by introducing TVET skills stream at all national secondary schools. Moreover, through the process of restructuring of technical secondary schools, Malaysia aims to covert such schools into vocational secondary schools to advance vocational and skills development.

The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 aims to develop the abilities of youth, and specifically stresses on the strengthening of vocational education as a means to provide students with practical skills required to succeed in trade and other specialised occupations. Along with the Vocational Education Transformation Plan, the Blueprint aims to, amongst others:

  • Enhance the access to and quality of existing educational pathways, starting with the vocational track, by developing career counselling services and collaborating with industry partners to develop industry-recognized qualifications;
  • Collaborate with industry and the private sector to provide more accessible TVET programmes;
  • Increase preschool and secondary school enrolment through enrolment drives, greater parental involvement, and enhanced vocational programmes;
  • Develop a more applied and vocational curriculum for special education needs children and introduce transition programmes;
  • Develop and enhance specialist and trained teachers; and
  • Introduce vocational education programmes at the lower secondary education level.

Programmes and initiatives support the achievement of goals stated in the 11MP, the Vocational Education Transformation Plan, and the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

Current key reforms and policy discussions in Malaysia include:

  1. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Enhancement Committee (JPTVET): JPTVET focuses, among others, on the issues of TVET such as alignment, articulation, funding, and employability. It also includes Vocational College (KV), Polytechnics, Community Colleges and Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN) articulation plans.
  2. TVET Masterplan Study by MOHR and Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC): TVET master plan is expected to look at the industry engagement model, TVET financing model, matching demand to supply model, as well as strategic collaboration among TVET providers and efforts to achieve a high percentage of skilled workforce by 2020.
Key Issues & Challenges

According to the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 and the Malaysia Education Policy Review Report (2013), TVET in Malaysia has been facing a number of challenges including:

  • Low enrolments in the vocational education stream;
  • Inability to meet the demands of the labour market (in 2008 the Ministry of Human Resources reported a labour shortage of 700,000 skilled workers in the manufacturing, agriculture, and construction industries);
  • Non recognition of credits at different levels of vocational and academic learning;
  • Poor perceived image;
  • Non availability of counselling and career service information;
  • Fragmented TVET funding system; and
  • Substandard quality of TVET programme design, implementation process, competencies acquired by students and the assessment system and criteria.

TVET continues to face the following key challenges today:

Multiplicity of provision, certification, standards and curricula

TVET provision in Malaysia is undertaken by different ministries, agencies and organisations, both public and private, with a multiplicity of certification, standards and curricula. The various TVET providers often operate as silos and do not taking into account programme offerings in the broader context, resulting in overlapping courses and institutions as well as creating confusion for students and employers. This situation has implications for the standardisation of training and qualification, cost-effectiveness, quality assurance, recognition of prior learning, and the further education of TVET graduates. The current governance structure still lacks effective coordination, sharing of resources, and articulation within the overall system. There is also no single oversight body to provide overview of TVET landscape. The diverse TVET management structures and the sharing of supervisory responsibilities by various government bodies and ministries account for some of the inefficiencies in the system like duplication and segmentation of training with little differentiation, and the absence of a common platform for developing coherent policies and joint initiatives.

Poor perception and recognition of TVET

TVET in Malaysia has always been considered by the public at large, and parents, as the career choice for the less academically-qualified or as a “last resort” choice for further education. This perception has been aggravated by the lower academic requirements stipulated for admission into TVET programmes and the limited prospects for further educational and professional development of TVET graduates. The societal stigma of TVET has also been created by the impression that the primary objective of vocational education and training is to cater for school drop-outs, rather than as an important strategy to train skilled workers for the employment market and for sustainable livelihoods. In addition, TVET-based qualifications and careers are still poorly perceived and recognised in the workplace. Many employers do not recognise the certification due to the highly fragmented landscape, with many ministries and agencies issuing certifications. Furthermore, TVET graduates are often not given the proper salary levels.

Weak monitoring and evaluation

Although fundamentally designed to meet observed or projected labour market demands, the current TVET programmes in Malaysia are largely supply-driven and still lack giving emphasis to match training to available jobs. Training institutions also seldom track the employment destination of their graduates. Consequently, the institutions have not taken advantage feedback from past trainees on the quality of the training they have received to improve their curricula and training packages. In short, the implementation of outcome evaluation and tracer studies that can improve the market responsiveness of training programmes is still lacking.

Lack of efficiency and quality in TVET

In general, TVET provision in Malaysia is still largely concentrated on lower-level skills qualification whereby more than 70 percent of graduates are at Malaysian Skills Certificates, Levels 1 and 2. Although, TVET Institutions are running at high operating levels, many are not yet operating at full capacity. The overall funding structure also does not fully support quality and performance of TVET providers. At the same time, TVET instructors lack Industry experience and attachment.


10MP Tenth Malaysia Plan
11MP Eleventh Malaysia Plan
ABM Akademi Binaan Malaysia
ADTEC Advanced Technology Centre
APEL Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning
BMI British Malaysian Institute
CIAST Centre for Instructors and Advanced Skills Training
CIDB Construction Industry Development Board
DKM Diploma Kemahiran Malaysia (Malaysian Skills Diploma)
DLKM Diploma Lanjutan Kemahiran Malaysia (Malaysian Skills Advanced Diploma)
DSD Department of Skills Development
DVM Diploma Vokasional Malaysia (Malaysian Vocational Diploma)
FWTS Future Workers’ Training Scheme
GMI German-Malaysian Institute
HLI Higher Learning Institute
HRDC Human Resources Development Council
HRDF Human Resources Development Fund
IKM Institut Kemahiran MARA
ILP Institut Latihan Perindustrian (Industrial Training Institute)
JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency
JMTI Japan Malaysia Technical Institute
JPTVET Jawatankuasa Peningkatan TVET (TVET Enhancement Committee)
KKTM Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi MARA
KV Kolej Vokasional (Vocational College)
LLL Lifelong Learning
MA Master of Arts
MARA Majlis Amanah Rakyat (People's Trust Council)
MBA Master of Business Administration
MBOT Malaysia Board of Technologists
MEdSI Malaysian Teacher Education Selection Inventory
MFI Malaysia France Institute
MOE Ministry of Education
MOHE Ministry of Higher Education
MQA Malaysian Qualifications Agency
MQF Malaysian Qualifications Framework
MS Master of Science
MTUN Malaysian Technical University Network
NATC National Agricultural Training Council
NDTS National Dual Training System
NOSS National Occupational Skills Standards
NQF National Qualifications Framework
NVTC National Vocational Training Council
PAV Pendidikan Asas Vokasional (Vocational Basic Education)
PERHEBAT Perbadanan Hal Ehwal Bekas Angkatan Tentera (Armed Forces Existence Corporation)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
PIMA Upper Secondary Industrial Apprenticeship
PKPG Special Programme for Non-graduate Teachers
PLKPK Program Latihan Kemahiran Pertanian Kebangsaan (National Agricultural Skills Training Programme)
PT3 Penilaian Tahap Tiga (Phase Rating 3)
PPP Public Private Partnership
PSD Public Services Department
PVMA Pendidikan Vokasional Menengah Atas (Upper Secondary Vocational Education)
PWC Price Waterhouse Coopers
RPA Recognition of Prior Achievement
RPEL Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning
SKM Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (Malaysian Skills Certificate)
SLDN Sistem Latihan Dual Nasional (National Dual Training System)
SMEs Small and Medium Enterprises
SPM Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (Malaysian Certificate of Education)
STPM Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (Malaysian High School Certificate)
SVM Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (Malaysian Vocational Certificate)
TVET Technical and Vocational Education and Training
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UPSI Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Sultan Idris Education University)
UPSR Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (Primary school Assessment Test)


  • Population

    31,164,177 (2017)a
    malaysia poppyramid

  • Sex Ratio

    1.03 male(s)/female (2017 est.)b

  • HDI

    0.789 (2015)c

  • GDP (Total)

    $314.5 billion (2017 est.)b

  • GDP (Per Capita)

    $29,000 (2017 est.)b

  • Industry/Sectors (GDP Contribution)

    Agriculture: 8.4%
    Industry: 36.9%
    Services: 54.7% (2017 est.)b

  • Poverty Rate

    3.8% (2009 est.)b


  • Education Index

    0.700 (2015)c

  • Adult Literacy Rate (% Ages 15 and Older)

    94.6% (2015)c

  • Expected Years of Schooling

    13.1 (2015)c

  • Mean Years of Schooling (Adults)

    10.1 (2015)c

  • School Dropout Rate

    5.8% (2013)c


  • Unemployment Rate (Total)

    2.9% (2015)c

  • Unemployment Rate (Youth -15-24 Old)

    10.4% (2015)c

  • Composition of Workforce

    Agriculture: 11%
    Industry: 36%
    Services: 53% (2012 est.)b

  • a Population Pyramid
    b CIA World Factbook
    c UNDP HDR

    For official government data on key indicators, please refer to data released by official government source(s).

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