Huge potential in new collar jobs for Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should capitalise on new collar job opportunities to earn higher salaries and improve their long-term prospects.

In an interview with Bernama recently, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said new collar vocations have great potential in terms of income and future prospects.

“Take plumbing as an example. We tend to view it as a low-class job but these days, we have to make an appointment with them (in case a plumber’s services is needed). This is because plumbing is a very specialised field.

“And recently, I met a journalist who is in his 30s and who is taking up a part-time course to become a chargeman due to his interest in that field. He would work during the day and study at night. He told me he could earn more as a chargeman,” he related.

In an article titled New-Collar Workers – Who Are They And How Are They Contributing To Our Labor Shortage? in the January 2019 edition of Forbes magazine, the writer Scholley Bubenik defined new collar worker as an “individual who develops the technical and soft skills needed to work in technology jobs through non-traditional education paths”.

New collar workers, wrote Bubenik, do not have a four-year degree from a college.

“Instead, the new collar worker is trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programmes, high school technical education and on-the-job apprentices and internships.”

Four processes

Malaysia is currently focusing on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes to equip its human capital with the necessary technical and vocational skills.

It is imperative that Malaysia increases its skilled workforce because it is projected that 60 per cent of jobs created under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) will require human capital with technical and vocational skills.

Currently, Malaysia’s skilled workforce stands at 28 per cent, whereas advanced nations like Germany’s has reached 51 per cent.

Under the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030 launched by the government last October, the nation hopes to raise its skilled workforce to 35 per cent in 10 years.

Said Kulasegaran: “We must take note of what the ILO (International Labour Organisation) has said…it said 15 years from now, there is a great possibility that 15 to 30 per cent of courses currently offered by universities may not be needed in the employment sector.

“However, the interesting thing is that the ILO has guaranteed that TVET courses will (continue) to remain relevant.”

The minister also reiterated the importance of skilling, upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling, pointing out that today’s job landscape allowed employees to enhance their value by acquiring skills, improving their existing skills, learning new skills and mastering skills across fields.

He said the four processes would be among the areas of focus under SPV 2030 and it is expected to benefit some 15 million workers who wish to add value to their employability.

Industrial training

According to Kulasegaran, 96 per cent of students graduating from skills training institutes are offered jobs soon after completing their studies. In fact, they often get multiple job offers. Workers who go for further training to improve their skills are also highly employable and face better mobility in the job market.

The minister also urged Malaysians wishing to pursue TVET courses to treat the Manpower Department’s Industrial Training Institutes (ILP) as their institute of choice.

“These institutes are not only located in Kuala Lumpur but also in other towns such as Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Skudai, Ipoh, Taiping, Penang, Tawau and Sandakan.

What is more, these areas have their own industrial networks,” he said, adding that the ILP students are fully sponsored by the government and are even given hostel facilities.

However, he added, despite the facilities provided, the institutes are not filled to capacity, with only 70 to 80 per cent of the seats for its various TVET courses taken up.

Kulasegaran said he has instructed the institutes to operate until 11 pm to enable working people to attend courses after work. The ministry is also busy promoting the institutes through the media, roadshows and collaborations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Its efforts have borne fruit as enrolments rose to 18,000 in 2019 from about 16,000 in 2016.

“We hope the enrolment for this year will go up to 20,000,” he said, adding that the authorities were in discussions with Genting Malaysia Bhd, which requires more than 1,000 technical staff, to hire ILP trainees.

“The pay is good, the work is enjoyable and the weather is cool over there.”

TVET for Orang Asli

Kulasegaran also said that his ministry is helping students from Orang Asli communities to enrol at the Industrial Training Institutes.

In 2018, eight Orang Asli from settlements in Cameron Highlands, Tapah and Gerik were enrolled in the ILP in Ipoh, Perak. Presently, 17 Orang Asli students are undergoing training at the institute.

“Just recently I was told that there have been requests from Orang Asli to enrol in TVET centres in Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. They can enrol in any TVET centre and not necessarily in ILP. Selangor, for instance, has many centres that provide training in vocational and technical courses,” he said.

They are given the option to pursue a course in welding, hairdressing, beauty treatments, mechatronics, electronics, electrical wiring or electrical chargeman.

“I hope in future hundreds of Orang Asli will get to acquire skills at the various ILP located nationwide. It will help to improve the socio-economic status of their families,” he added.

Kulasegaran also said that every Tuesday, his ministry would have an open day to meet clients and stakeholders who needed their advisory services.

Every Tuesday, officials from departments and agencies under the Human Resources Ministry and relevant NGOs would be present at the lobby at the ministry’s building in Putrajaya to offer their services.

In fact, the minister himself makes it a point to be present to meet the people who require the services of his ministry.

“We’re trying to make it more convenient for the people. I think it’s important that we not only help people who have issues with our ministry but also other ministries because their problems could be interlinked with others.

“For example, someone has an issue concerning the hiring of foreign workers… this doesn’t involve my ministry alone but also KDN (Ministry of Home Affairs) because the approval comes from KDN.

“So it (the open day) is a one-stop centre kind of thing and people come from all around the country to see us. It’s challenging but there is a happy ending when we make it fruitful for them,” he added. — Bernama