Malaysia is transitioning from a labour-driven economy to a knowledge-driven society. Many countries including Malaysia want to become industrial communities. Since the use of information communication and technology (ICT) has a major impact on a country's economic development, hence various parties need to ensure that the development of ICT can benefit all communities.
The Malaysian Higher Education Ministry has designated a higher education system in line with the 2015-2025 Education Higher Strategic Plan. Higher education needs to stay relevant in the 21st century of learning as new areas of learning have become increasingly for sustainable development.
The industrial revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) considers the massive use of smart networked systems with the innovation of new products, procedures and services. The development in IR4.0 is to transform the jobs and skills of the workers. In IR4.0, the creation of new jobs, and the introduction of new products and services are increasing. Since higher education institutions are anchor institutions for economic development, the student's involvement and forming partnerships with industries will be an essential part of success in higher education.
The industrial workforce is changing and higher learning institutions should also focus on the IR4.0 movement. In the future, the collaboration between industries and higher education institutions will be significant. Today’s students are going to be working within the industry 4.0 context and it is essential to prepare them for the industry. Therefore, the responsibility for creating high quality education should collaboratively be shared among university students and the industries.
Meeting the demands of Industry 4.0
Students in higher learning institutions need to be equipped and prepared to meet the demands of Industry 4.0. To move forward with IR4.0, success in the Industry 4.0 context depends on skills and knowledge. There is still a lack of studies to identify the education skills required in Industry 4.0, specifically for higher learning institutions.
To date, no model or framework is looking into what core education skills are needed for students in line with Industry 4.0. Previous research related to Industry 4.0 focuses more on employability skills to fulfil the needs of industry and graduates. There is a plethora of 21st-century pedagogy relevant to skills in IR4.0 such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility. However, these skills do not play a crucial role in the student experience in the teaching and learning process.
Education skills are essential in 21st-century education. The concept of the 4Cs education skills (collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity) has been introduced by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, or P21 in 2002. Students in higher learning institutions need to be equipped with the 4Cs as the most important skills required for 21st-century education. This is because lecturers are content experts and a well-organised lesson will be more engaging and meaningful. Readiness is the willingness and ability to do something. It also refers to the environment within which an individual or institution has been prepared for a future task. Thus, the concept of 4Cs education skills is regarded as the most significant for a positive and advanced revolution in learning. The 4Cs approach should be adopted to help students flourish in the 21st century with the strong need for students to fit the demand of future job development in line with IR4.0.
Students must be ready to face the challenges in Industry 4.0. Readiness to learn is the individual's inner state that is willing and able to learn something to acquire a new learning experience. It consists of cognitive, affective and psychomotor aspects of each student. Readiness to learn from cognitive aspects means one's mental readiness to understand and their reflection in new learning situations. Affective readiness is the desire, enthusiasm, diligence, feelings and interests of a person to carry out learning activities. Meanwhile, psychomotor readiness includes the use of skills and coordination requirements of bones and muscles during physical activity. These constructs can influence the conduct or behaviour of a person.
Work-based Learning Environment
Work-based learning (WBL) has the potential to improve students’ career readiness. Work-based learning has been found to help students apply and extend classroom learning, increase motivation and understanding, explore careers, and increase understanding of the work environment.
Four key factors need to be employed to determine the success of the WBL programme. The first factor is well-structured learning in which the academic curriculum can culminate in products or services. The second factor is students being allowed to engage; having meaningful experiences and reflects their learning. The third factor is employers in the industry sharing their learning goals with instructors and students. The last factor is the programme needs to have a strong linkage to the employers need in the industry.
The concept of WBL has been in practice as an integral part of the education system. This is to provide an opportunity for the students on having industry exposure, emphasis on what they have learned at university and also bridge the connection between the industry and higher learning institutions. This is because the WBL programme offers placements outside of the institution such as internships, mentoring, workplace simulations, and apprenticeships along with classroom-based learning.
Ts. Dr. Siti Hajar Halili is an Associate Professor and Head of Department at the Faculty of Education, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.