‘Firms not doing enough to up-skill their workers’

Participants at the one-day Latest Development for The Sarawak Workforce Seminar 2015.

Participants at the one-day Latest Development for The Sarawak Workforce Seminar 2015.

KUCHING: The level of up-skilling activity in Sarawak is low as not many companies use their contribution to the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) to train and develop their employees.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Promotion of Technical Education) Datu Len Talif Salleh, who noted this, thus emphasised the crucial need to find the reasons for this despite the many programmes and schemes developed by both the state and federal governments to develop the workforce.

“Many of these schemes and programmes can only be successful if there is greater understanding and participation from the industry,” he said.

In his speech read out by Demak Laut assemblyman Dr Hazland Abang Hipni yesterday, he highlighted that companies and organisations need to upgrade the quality and capacity of their workforce in order to grow their income.

Dr Hazland represented Len Talif to officiate at the ‘Latest Development for The Sarawak Workforce Seminar 2015’ organised by the Workforce Development Unit in the Chief Minister’s Department and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) at the Imperial Hotel here.

“Today’s seminar will not only touch on career development initiative but also on financial assistance schemes to enhance competency of employees,” Len Talif added.

He thus urged representatives from industries to open up and put forth their problems and issues pertaining to HRDF so that solutions can be found.

On the seminar, he pointed out that it was very timely as Malaysia was about to embark on the last leg of its journey to achieve Vision 2020.

“Although Sarawak has until 2030 to become a developed and high income state, we cannot take things easy as we must ensure all our efforts and energies are synchronised and synergised so that the 11th Malaysia Plan will successfully catapult the nation towards the goals,” he advised.

Whether Malaysia and Sarawak can achieve its goals, he highlighted, very much depend on the quality of the workforce.

“It is the capacity and capability of our workforce that will ultimately determine whether our investments and efforts in other areas such as enhancing our infrastructure, attracting foreign investments, securing larger markets and so on, will bring about the desired outcomes,” he said.

“The more innovative and productive our workforce becomes, the greater the likelihood that we will achieve success,” he added.

He revealed that the manufacturing sector was expected to grow substantially with the implementation of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

“From year 2008 to 2014, the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the state’s GDP was 2.6 per cent, second only to the service sector. The total value of output of the manufacturing sector in 2012 was RM93.028 million and it employed 97,959 paid employees.

“One of the objectives of SCORE is to restructure Sarawak’s economy wherein the manufacturing sector would play a more dominant role,” he said.

“To date, SCORE has already attracted commitments from more than 15 manufacturing companies with about RM20 billion investment. Of these, four are already in operation in Samalaju,” he added.

He pointed out that as the sector grows, the competition for qualified manpower would increase and all companies must take steps to develop their own skills capacity.

He cited the National Talent Enhancement Programme or NTEP, which is an Economic Transformation Programme initiative under the Performance, Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) in the Prime Minister’s Department, as one of the programmes to enhance workforce capacity.

“It involves a 6-month traineeship and employment programme to develop industry-relevant skills via partnership with companies,” he explained.

In addition, he said the government also recognised that employees who possess certain skills do not have the accreditation.

“Realising how important the recognition of employees’ skills and experiences is in accelerating their career development and income growth, the state government through the Workforce Development Unit has developed the Single Progression System (SPS),” he said.

SPS is the state’s own mechanism to assess and accredit skilled and semi-skilled workers who do not posses any certification of their competency.

Among others present were FMM Sarawak Working Committee chairman Othman Abdul Rani and Workforce Development Unit in the Chief Minister’s Department director Dr Abdul Rahman Deen.