Choose a career pathway in early care & childhood education (ECCE) by Suzanne Tang

Joining the ECCE industry is often misunderstood by many, especially parents, as a low-income job that requires minimal education and skills, a job that does not promise a bright future, a job that does not earn their children the label, ‘professional’ and a job that does not bring lucrative income. It is not uncommon for many to perceive joining ECCE as only to become a teacher. However, this is no longer the trend in ECCE. The opportunities in ECCE are vast. For those who wish to teach children, they are the noble teachers; for those who are born business-minded, they are the proud owners of childcare centres and kindergartens; and for those who are scholarly-minded, they are the professional consultants and lecturers. Despite the differences in career objectives, these individuals who dare to venture into the ECCE industry all have a common goal, to transform lives of children and to make this world a better place.

In Malaysia, the ECCE industry has developed so rapidly resulting in increased demand and supply of early years caregivers and early childhood educators. For the first time, after many decades of the inception of preschool education in Malaysia, ECCE is now granted the status as a professional career, parallel with long-time popular professions such as medicine, law and business. This scenario is timely due to elevation of working mothers, transformation of knowledgeable and competent nation, and the potential ECCE has as a profitable business investment. REAL Education Group, with its 26 years of history in providing education from birth to silver hair, embrace this upswing in ECCE. The Group strive to play its role in supporting the Malaysian Government’s endeavour to produce competent preschool teachers and increase preschool children enrolment.

Why become a preschool teacher? Let’s begin with the understanding of children’s prime learning period. The human brain develops more rapidly between birth and age five than during any other subsequent period. For decades researchers have been aware of the extraordinary development of a child’s brain during the first five years of life. Recent advances in neuro-science have helped crystallize earlier findings, bringing new clarity and understanding of the field of early childhood brain development and learning. Children are born ready to learn. They cultivate 85 percent of their intellect, personality and skills by age five. The first months and years of life set the stage for lifelong learning. The preschool years are the time in which the brain begins to maximize efficiency and active learning continues throughout the early childhood years and middle childhood period, i.e. age six to age twelve. Preschool teachers play a crucial role in helping children maximize their 26

development during this efficient period of an individual’s journey of life. Some would say that being a preschool teacher is more than just a job, it is a calling. As a preschool teacher, one holds responsibility of raising the next generation of leaders at their earliest stages of education. Opting to become an early caregiver and/ or childhood educator can be a very rewarding career. YOU will be part of the children’s most impressionable years, shaping their minds and personalities.

For individuals who have the passion for ECCE, but wish to be more than a teacher, the business-investment pathway is the way to go. Investing in preschool education, namely setting up childcare centres and kindergartens is a non-risky investment that promises good payoffs. Like any other businesses, running childcare centres and kindergartens is an art. The ECCE business requires specialized knowledge and trained skills to achieve greater success rate.

To top up the passion, the ECCE business person will need to equip himself or herself with the latest trends and practices in ECCE, and skills in recruiting competent principals, preschool teachers, caregivers and helpers, managing staffs and operating centres legally and ethically. The ECCE investor needs to envisage the direction that will yield promising growth and profits. Business owners of childcare centres and kindergartens who master the art of running the ECCE business will be able to provide better facilities and services to children and parents. Hence, much knowledge and training is needed to help potential business investors master the art of ECCE business.

ALFA College, under the umbrella of REAL Education Group, help individuals who want to make ECCE their career; helping individuals to understand what they can be; why and how to become great teachers and why and how they become successful entrepreneurs in the ECCE industry. Supported by 26 years of experience championing preschool education through the chain of privately-owned REAL Kids Learning Centres in Malaysia, the ECCE programmes offered by ALFA, namely, Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECE), Executive Diploma in ECE and Diploma in ECCE Entrepreneurship draw references from REAL’s preschool education business to offer excellent curriculum and internship as well as on-the-job training to prepare individuals for the ECCE industry.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact ALFA College at 03-5631 9208 or email us :  enquiry@alfa.edu.my. Welcome to visit our REAL Education Group’s website : http://www.real.edu.my

Understanding Interior Architecture (The Star - Feb 8, 2012)

It is commonly asked, “What is the difference between Interior Design and Interior Architecture?”

Interior Architecture (IA) has certainly come a long way, growing to become what it is today. The profession was initially known as Interior Decorating before it evolved into Interior Design. Interior Design professionals do not only provide decorating and design consultation, but also take care of the more ‘technical’ aspects of the job (i.e. space enhancements, etc.). These aspects include technical drawing, building technology & services, materials & building finishes technology, and furniture detailing.

In recent years, the profession has continued to transform. The need to understand architecture-related matters within Interior Design has given birth to the field of Interior Architecture (IA). Interior Architecture involves the planning and detailing of a residential or commercial building’s interiors. This is to maximize effectiveness by emphasizing on space planning and creation. Not only does the space need to look good, it must also be functional. Innovative designs enable us to live and work more comfortably, efficiently, and securely; all within an aesthetically-fulfilling environment.

So what do interior architecture graduates do exactly, once they join the workforce? They plan space allocation, traffic flow, as well as working with engineers on building services, joinery (woodwork), and lighting. This is in addition to the selection of materials, furniture, finishes, fittings and artwork, in order to create attractive and vibrant spaces. They are also trained to consider the modification of a building’s interior structure with assistance from engineers, rather than just refurnishing existing spaces.

Consumers are now becoming more sophisticated and would consult an interior architecture graduate before starting on the actual construction or renovation. Many of them are willing to pay big money for customized designs of furniture, lighting, walls, partitions, flooring, colour, fabrics and graphics to create a ‘one-of-a-kind’ look for their homes or offices.

Interior architecture graduates are usually employed in interior consultancy firms and architectural practices. Their career prospects are vast – which include interior designers, architectural assistants, CAD designers, perspective renderers, exhibition designers, set designers, furniture designers, property managers, freelance designers and site managers. It is interesting to note that there is a rising demand for furniture designers and materials purchase consultants in Malaysia, as well as in other Asian countries.
ALFA College’s Interior Architecture (IA) programme is 75% hands-on and practical, fully preparing its graduates for the job market. In addition, the course syllabus has two uniquely different features: Material Study and Furniture Study. Material Study is taught not only from a technical point of view but also focuses on various ‘fixing’ methods, with practical usage and application in mind. ALFA’s Furniture Study meanwhile, is one of the most comprehensive course developed for the local industry.

Graduates can settle into the workforce without any problem or need for further training as the course syllabus is more than sufficient to produce competent professionals. This is because emphasis is put on teachings that are applicable at industry level. This is evident from two prestigious awards picked up by ALFA’s IA students at the recent ‘Malaysia Batik Furniture Design Competition 2011’. Hooi Yean Yee and Hu Shin Yee both won 1st Prizes in the Living Room and Bedroom Furniture categories respectively.

Being the top provider of Architectural studies, ALFA College would naturally be able to leverage the strength of its Architecture programme onto its Interior Architecture course. Many ALFA Interior Architecture graduates have achieved success in their careers and are now well-respected professionals in the industry.

Why Study Architecture? (The Star, Feb 2012)

Architecture is the profession of designing buildings, open areas and other man-made structures and environments, usually with some artistic effect. It often includes the supervision of construction work, as well as the restoration or remodeling of existing buildings. Architecture not only reflects the society that builds it, but also affects the way that society develops and presents itself to the world.

So why study architecture? Being an architect is like being an ‘inventor’. An architect is tasked with designing buildings and environments on land where nothing may have existed before. Architects enjoy the satisfaction of watching their concepts and drawings transform from paper to physical reality, and in some cases, as magnificent skyscrapers, airports and museums. This process of envisioning, communicating and guiding their work through construction is both challenging and immensely gratifying. The freedom to exercise one’s creativity on a regular basis provides a degree of job satisfaction that few other careers can offer.

Just about everyone is concerned with salary and compensation when making their career choice. Architecture is a rewarding field where firms are constantly searching for talented designers with good problem-solving skills. An architecture graduate with a strong portfolio who can communicate well and prove himself on the job will always be in demand due to the lack of capable and determined graduates. The selection of a good architecture college which provides a strong foundation in practical skills for its architecture students paves the way for a promising career path.

As a rapidly developing nation, Malaysia has a constant need for architects, and with globalization, large architectural firms are hiring young architects to work on their international projects abroad. Architects and architectural firms work on a project-by-project basis. For an architecture firm, it’s all about “the winning design submission” – which means gaining the trust of the client and working well with contractors to produce a successful project. A bright, young designer who sees new possibilities and can convince the client of the strength of the firm’s design commands the highest rewards.

Studying architecture is both challenging and fun. No two projects are ever exactly the same, so a promising designer must be creative and a good problem solver. Studying how different cultures approach design expands the range of solutions which he or she can offer. Rather than just writing essays, performing calculations or conducting laboratory experiments, the architect imagines and designs spaces. The boundaries of this creative work are limited only by the students’ ability to see.
Architecture involves both art and science because the designed environments we work and live in must be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Aspiring architects are taught the fundamentals of design and visual communication, structural engineering and material technology, art history, business and law. While architecture graduates are exposed to several technical subjects, the mark of distinction in architecture is largely artistic.

A qualification in Architecture provides several career options which are not limited to pursuing an architect’s position alone. Other career options include urban planning and design, computer-aided drafting, project management, property development and management, site supervision, site rendering and illustration, and building material supply – to name just a few. 23

Do you enjoy being creative and working with your hands? Architects produce drawings, construct building models, and specify construction materials, color combinations and lighting effects. Architects develop great pride in their design solutions and choices. Architects must collaborate with a host of different people to complete a successful project. To be successful, an architect cannot work in a vacuum but must work well in a team, especially as the scale and complexity of a project increases.

In a nutshell, architects design buildings that are pleasing to live and work in and so directly influence the quality of our contemporary experience. Architecture is a creative, dynamic and rewarding profession, and its study will expose a student to a wide range of disciplines which will serve them well in life.

To become a registered architect, you have to train for a minimum of eight years. To obtain Part 1 and Part 2, you will need to study for at least six years. Thereafter, you’ll have to acquire a minimum of two years’ professional practice. This is followed by the Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM) or Board of Architects Malaysia’s professional practice examination, known as Part 3. Only when you have completed these three parts will you be legally recognized as a qualified architect.

Since 1998, ALFA International College has been recognized as one of the leading architecture schools in Malaysia. With its 75% hands-on and skill-based course syllabus, ALFA provides its graduates with a solid foundation for their future success as architects or in related design and construction fields. As industry practitioners themselves, ALFA’s lecturers are passionate about their role as educators who are tasked and entrusted with nurturing excellence in the next generation of architects.
For more information, please contact 03-5631 9208 or email enquiry@alfa.edu.my. Join ALFA College’s Architecture Workshop on Feb 19, 2012 – it will give you a clearer picture of what architecture is all about, should this course be what you really want to pursue.