In spite the growth of career opportunities across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related fields, Malaysia has seen a marked decline in the number of secondary and tertiary education students pursuing such programmes. The Academy of Sciences in its 2015 Science Outlook estimates that the nation would need at least 270,000 science stream students to fill the growing need for STEM talents in Malaysia.
(Standing 9th from right) Low Beng Siew, General Manager, Flex Malaysia; R. Chandra Segar, Human Resource Business Partner Manager, Flex Malaysia; Hemalatha Murugiah, Chief Executive, INTI International College Penang; and Clement Pakiam, Senior Mechanical Engineering Manager, Motorola Solutions Penang Design Centre – together with the attendees of the forum.
To address the next generation of STEM talents required by the country, INTI International College Penang (INTI Penang) launched its latest programme, the Diploma in Mechanical Engineering – a two and a half year course aimed at equipping students with a broad range of theoretical knowledge coupled with practical experiences, professional development and a final year project to enable students to gain the most from the programme.
Chief Executive of INTI Penang, Hemalatha Murugiah said, “As Malaysia continues to grow as a regional leader in infrastructure and technology, the need to empower the next generation is crucial in ensuring a healthy pipeline of talents for the future. In spite common misconceptions that STEM subjects are difficult and tedious, these fields offer significant advantages and rewards, and provide career opportunities that facilitate innovation, resourcefulness and creativity.”
To further highlight the realities of STEM related professions during the launch, INTI Penang welcomed industry partners to a forum entitled “Exploring STEM – Becoming the Innovators of the Future.” The half day event included a showcase of recent innovations by some of INTI’s 450 industry partners and featured the insights of Flex Malaysia General Manager, Low Beng Siew and Flex Malaysia Human Resource Business Partner Manager, R. Chandra Segar; as well as Motorola Solutions Penang Design Centre Senior Mechanical Engineering Manager, Clement Pakiam.
Representatives from Flex Malaysia showcasing their innovative products.
Speaking to the audience, Low said that the existing initiatives taken to promote STEM were insufficient to address the decline of STEM graduates. “In Penang alone, we have the Penang International Science Fair, the Penang Science Cluster and Techdome Penang. But more initiatives need to be carried out nationwide to reach out and inculcate students’ interest in STEM.”
“The younger generation is constantly looking out for instantaneous solutions, thus they are discouraged from venturing into this field,” explained Pakiam, highlighting that STEM subjects are often perceived as difficult which contributes to the decline in students choosing this field. Pakiam also echoed the need for younger generations to take up STEM programmes to meet the demands of the market, which currently greatly relies on expatriates.
“By collaborating with these industry partners, we hope to rebrand STEM-related programmes such as the Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from technically heavy subjects to exciting courses where students experience the value of their future careers through real hands-on working experiences. Connecting industries to INTI students and even those in secondary schools helps us build awareness on the diversity of career opportunities available in this field.”
Such industry collaborations also gave rise to INTI’s outstanding employability outcomes in 2015, which were validated by BDO Governance Advisory – with 98% of students being employed within six months of graduating, 25% securing jobs even before they graduate, and 82% being offered higher salaries than the market average.