With Southeast Asia charging full steam ahead into the fourth wave of industrialisation, demands to revitalise vocational education have been on the rise. Governments are working with local universities to enhance the quality of vocational education, in hopes of bridging the gap between the skill of graduates and the demands of employers, and building a more competitive economy.
These demands for a greater emphasis on vocational education may seem ironic given the concerns that technological advancements may automate the jobs of some skilled workers in the future. Institutions offering vocational education must incorporate ICT enhanced pedagogy, facilitate connections between industry practitioners and students, as well as promote collaborations between vocational education institutions across the region. This would better future-proof students with skills more relevant to the evolving job market, while also allowing employers to spend less time and money on basic
However, countries like Thailand and Malaysia are struggling to garner interest for vocational training as students prefer a more academic education. Increasing the salary of skilled workers could be one way to manage this, as it would provide more incentives for students to pursue vocational education. A more sustainable solution would involve incorporating vocational training into general education itself, such as through offering more internship programmes and working towards a competency-based education system. Ultimately, revitalising vocational education would require greater collaboration between governments, higher education institutions and employers to better identify and meet industry needs.