National Service training will become a fully voluntary exercise by 2019.
Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Bakri said the move to turn NS into a voluntary exercise would be done gradually starting from 2017.
"In 2017, 60 per cent of the trainees will be randomly selected through online computers system while another 40 per cent will be made up of volunteers. It will be 50 per cent selected and 50 per cent volunteers in 2018 with the goal of seeing all trainees being volunteers by 2019," he said when answering a question by Datuk Zainuddin Ismail (BN-Jelebu) at Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He said the three-month training programme, which will resume next year, would maintain the current ratio of 70 per cent selected trainees and 30 per cent volunteers.
Some 100,000 17-year-old youths out of 500,000 have been selected in batches to undergo NS annually since the programme was launched a decade ago.
He said the move towards making NS fully voluntary is among the proposals to improve the programme following its suspension this year.
He said the focus would be on youths who were unable to enter university to undergo NS, not only to undergo nation building modules but also skills training.
Abdul Rahim said the proposals followed feedback obtained from 24 private companies, non-governmental bodies, government agencies and parents on ways to improve NS.
Among the other proposals, he noted, was inclusion of skills training for participants to better prepare them for the job market, particularly youths who do not intend to further their studies.
"Those who want to continue their skills training after their NS can do so at skills training centres to obtain their certificates," he added.
In January this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the suspension of NS for 2015 as part of cost-cutting measures which would save the Government RM400mil.
The suspension was also to allow the programme to be re-examined and improved.