Awareness campaign

Bright future awaits Malaysian technical and vocational students in food services sector

Students in Kedah see first-hand the how skills training and practical experience can lead to careers rather than jobs in growing sector.

News | Kedah, Malaysia | 17 May 2023
KEDAH, Malaysia (ILO News) – Great career opportunities await young Malaysians in the food services industry.

This was the message heard by students and trainees from Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions in Kedah at an event organized by the ILO Young Futuremakers Malaysia Project supported by Standard Chartered Foundation on 13 May 2023.

Held at the at the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah (UniSHAMS), the day’s activities saw some 150 students and trainees learn about real-life experiences, challenges and ways to succeed in the food services industry after graduation.

Participants took part in interactive activities such as cake decorations, latte art and mocktails demonstrations from hotels, cafés and government agencies. They also heard from the Department of Skills Development and Malaysia Trade Union Congress (MTUC) as well as renowned chefs and entrepreneurs.

A participant involved in cake decoration skills showcase which was available during the awareness campaign, Kedah, Malaysia. © ILO
Chef Amirull Azahar, a former trainee at a TVET Institution, Kedah, Malaysia. and currently the Chief Operation Officer of the Abu Taha Restaurant in Dubai, said: “It is important for students to equip themselves with multidisciplinary culinary skills as well as soft skills to succeed in this industry.”

“With these skills, you can have a career in this food industry and not just a job,” he added.

This sentiment was further echoed by another panellist, Syubass Chandraa, a café owner in Kedah who advised participants to “stay hungry” for knowledge and experience.

“I feel lucky to attend a culinary course and after attending this event, believe I have better career opportunities in the future,” said Alisa Najiha, 19, who is currently a student in a vocational school in Kedah.

A participant asked his question to the panellists during the panel discussion in the awareness campaign, Kedah, Malaysia. © ILO
The Director of the Department of Skills Development in Northern region, Azmir Ahmad, highlighted that the Department is committed to promote TVET in the food services industry to ensure more young people enrol in courses. Meanwhile, Youth Chairperson of MTUC, Mohd Sazuan, stressed the importance of improving the working environment and salary for those working in restaurants and cafés to attract local graduates to work and strive in the industry.

The event was supported by multiple Ministry of Human Resources agencies, including the Department of Skills Development (DSD), Social Security Organization (SOCSO) and Skills Development Fund Corporation.

“When you plan your career, it is key to not only look at your first job. A critical step is to understand the career progression you can have in a sector and how practical experience through TVET can help you advance,” said Felix Weidenkaff, the ILO Youth Employment Specialist.

This was the second awareness event organised by the project following an earlier event held in Kuala Lumpur on 20 March 2023. The project will continue the awareness campaign through online platforms in collaboration with the Department of Skills Development. Videos and infographics will be shared through their social media accounts until June. The campaign’s participants and online viewers will receive the latest information and updates regarding employment and education opportunities in the food services industry in Malaysia through the Telegram Channel. Register here:

The ILO Young Futuremakers Malaysia Project is supported by the Standard Chartered Foundation.