Criteria and Priorities of Secondary School Students in Choosing Their Educational Pathway: A Selection Process by Analytic Hierarchy Process

Adidinizar Zia, Geetha Subramaniam
Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Peck-Leong Tan
Arshad Ayub Graduate Business School, Universiti Teknologi


Malaysia has been striving to become a high-income country and paving the road to rise to rank top 20 nations in the world in terms of economics, social and innovation by 2050. However, the participation of secondary school students in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has been low throughout the years, even with the rise of awareness on the importance of TVET in producing skilled workers towards sustainable economic growth. Therefore, this paper determines the criteria and priority that secondary school students consider in choosing their educational pathways. This study administered a pair-wise comparison survey to 80 secondary school students through Malaysia. Their responses were analyzed using by a multicriteria decision-making method, i.e. the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Three main criteria which were identified were ‘Internal Factors’, ‘External Factors’ and ‘Social Influence Factors’ and each had five sub-criteria. The results found that ‘Aptitude’, ‘Career’, ‘Parent’, ‘Courses’ and ‘Financial Aid’ sub-criteria are the top five priorities in choosing the educational pathways. Therefore, in alignment with Industrial Revolution 4.0, stakeholders especially parents should be able to give early identification of technical and vocational aptitude of their children with the help of teachers while encouraging them to go into TVET. At the same time, parents and teachers ought to provide accurate information and advice on TVET-related careers, courses, and financial aid should be made available for students who are interested in TVET-related fields. Prioritizing on these criteria will ensure a high enrolment of TVET students and will hopefully lead to more skilled Malaysian workers in the future.

Keywords: TVET, Secondary school students, Decision making, Priorities Analytic Hierarchy Process, AHP