Students’ Choice of STEM Study in Secondary and Tertiary Education in Penang

The rise in manufacturing investments over the last three years indicates a growing need for a STEM workforce in Penang. Given the economy is driven by the state’s technology-intensive manufacturing arm, the shortage in skilled manpower remains a challenge. Industries such as high-tech manufacturing, precision engineering and automation, medical devices, and life sciences have long experienced difficulty filling vacancies and retaining high-skilled workers owing to a shortage in the STEM labour market.

The objectives of this study is to understand how students perceive science or STEM subjects at the upper secondary school level and the college level, and what factors motivate them to pursue a STEM education, and ultimately, a STEM career—or what factors discourage them away from this career path. Based on student preferences, the study also attempts to forecast the potential characteristics of the STEM workforce in the future. Finally, based on the study’s findings, recommendations for improving STEM uptake at both secondary and tertiary level are provided.

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