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TVET must succeed for Malaysia to meet high-income ambitions, says UK envoy

Ailsa Terry says five British universities are in Malaysia, the only country with that many universities from the UK.

KUALA LUMPUR: Without technical and vocational education and training (TVET), Malaysia will not succeed in its ambitions to become a high-income nation as set out by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, says the new British high commissioner to Malaysia, Ailsa Terry.

Speaking to the media at the closing seminar for the Skills for Prosperity in Malaysia (SfP-Malaysia) programme yesterday, Terry noted that five British universities are already in Malaysia, the only country in the world with that many.

“We want to support (Malaysia’s TVET) as much as we can. I want to make sure that all of the UK’s representation here – schools, universities – are really helping the government achieve its TVET goals.

“It’s all about working together, more than (the UK) giving any help,” she added, saying that she saw her country’s relationship with Malaysia as a learning collaboration.

“We’re working to support where the Malaysian government wants to go, rather than coming with a preconceived idea – and to do that in the spirit of partnership, as Malaysia is going for high-income status.”

She lauded the SfP-Malaysia programme, a flagship UK global education and skills programme working collaboratively with multiple partner countries, for its achievements, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’ve only been in Malaysia for about six weeks. So, I’m kind of new to this, and seeing the results is really, really impressive,” said Terry, who took up the post in August, succeeding Charles Hay.

SfP-Malaysia, a programme run by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and funded by the UK from 2019 to 2023,  reported that it has benefited over 12,000 Malaysians, including women, youth and people from the bottom 40% (B40) of the economy.

Terry said that even as the programme reached its completion, the future will see a focus on relationships with the ILO, United Nations, and government agencies that have been involved so far.

“These relationships have been built very patiently and very carefully over the last four or five years.

It’s not just about carrying on the partnerships, but also listening to what the needs are from the Malaysian government’s perspective and from civil society. How can we, as the UK, with other international partners, help Malaysia achieve its goals?” the high commissioner said.