Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Raya brings back memories of automotive sector

The Hari Raya festivity will always beckon you to come home to where you were born, with your elderly parents and family members ever so delighted to see you.

It is the time of the year that all the nostalgic memories will come back to remind you of your roots and the progress that you made in life.

This Raya season was my turn to return to my home, alternating with my wife’s turn last year in Perlis.

Distance apart, Raya can only take place on one side of the family, Sarawak or Perlis, but the understanding that has been established thus far posed no problem as Raya location is an alternating affair.

This year we were back in Sibu, my hometown by the mighty Sungai Rajang in Sarawak that had seen many developments over the past few years.

It was here I was raised and completed my secondary school.

Rooming around town on the Raya Eve, looking for breaking fast goodies, I recognized the many changes that have taken place. Those places that I knew selling my favorites have also changed.

Some goodies sellers that I recognize were still operating, while a few seem to be no longer around. 

Perhaps already off for Raya preparations.

Responding to my question on how businesses are, slumber reactions indicate the businesses were not like before. The reason I discovered was due to influx of new operators selling similar goodies, but in volume.

The goodies are now creatively packed and mass produced selling at cheaper prices. Only those who know the originators of the goodies remain their loyal customers.

My above short Raya story brings two issues to my mind – nostalgic reminder of our roots and creativity that change our lives.

Relating these to the development of our automotive industry, nostalgically the industry was at its height when I entered the workforce.

I was grateful that the sector was given full support by the government, which has created many jobs for graduates as young as I was at that time. It was a period where as young engineers, we had a lot to learn and to catch up with the incoming technologies.

I had the opportunity to serve in a few of the vendors supplying components to our national cars and the experience taught me many and are very useful in my current job.

Those were good days where the younger generation work and learn, while trying to make the best of our automotive industry.

Thirty years have passed and the nostalgic memories of my early employment in automotive have not faded, but strengthen my determination to continue to be involved in automotive in one way or another instead.

The present has changed the landscape of our automotive industry, liberalization and globalization keep knocking at our doors demanding adjustment to be made for us to be part of the international business community.

Managing automotive related ventures are more complex than it was used to be and we must be resilient in facing the challenges.

Strategic and creative management is more crucial than ever and calls for competent and capable industry leaders to spearhead creative ventures to face the challenges.

Suffice to say that understanding and knowing the origin of our automotive industrial endeavor, its past history and evolution may help us to drive forward in managing the current industry.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Vocational education vital for industrialisation endeavour

Opinions still linger among the industri players that there are apparent training mismatch of the new generation workforce entering the world of work within the local automotive sector. In fact, the comments are centred on many job applicant coming from the "heavily academic" background without industry relevance and vocational exposures.
An allocation of RM1 billion for the Skill Development Fund under the 11th Malaysian Plan (11MP) to support the targeted 1.5 million skilled jobs to be created from now to 2020, which  demonstrates the serious attention on the part of the government to human skills development.
The emphasis is now becoming clear, that is to ensure the uplifting of vocational skills training for the younger generation.
The decision calls for full response from the younger populace, industry players, academicians, training institutions, education planners, trainers so as to ensure the successful implementation of the nation vocational training.
The Malaysian populace is an academic oriented society that believes higher academic achievements ensure comfortable future, as are in many other developing nations.
Globalisation has since altered the perception, particularly among developed nations, where one in every five of their upper secondary school graduates is enrolled in technical and vocational programmes.
The ‘academic education approach’ is ‘teacher centred learning’, where the contents are driven by educators focusing on the course objectives.
The educator will present, interact, discusses, demonstrates and communicate with the students during lectures. The teaching is supplemented with tutorials and practical classes in the campus laboratory.
On the other hand ‘Vocational education’ is centred around the students to enhance their hands-on skills and experience based on the job skills required in a work environment.
The implementation of vocational educations varies across nations. However the main advantage of the system is to provide skilled workers relevant to the marketplace.
In the context of the system to automotive engineering, vocational education will provide a skilful workforce directly to the automotive industry and it related manufacturing activities.
The public perception towards vocational education must change for the system to be successfully implemented.
The issue of perceived second class status of the system to the ‘academic-oriented’ education and the perceived vocational students are ‘academic failures’ must be countered.
Industry players have a major role to play in removing these negative public perceptions by fully supporting training initiatives organised by the relevant institutions and to ensure employments for the students upon graduation.
Most importantly, the remuneration offered must be attractive and recognised at par to those academic oriented job seekers.
Naturally, for the industry to fulfil the employment condition the vocational curricula must be transformed to impart analytical skills, theories and critical thinking among the vocational graduates, at par to those academic oriented students, in addition to the imparted skills.
The German dual system is a good example in this direction where higher education and vocational education are structured together in order to embrace national qualification as well as the training requirements.
Meanwhile, the existing “Accreditation of Prior Achievement” programme developed by the Ministry of Human Resources is a good start to certify those experienced workforce.
The programme emphasises on the “life-long learning” concept may be extended to higher level than the current Malaysia Skill Certificate award to entice enrolment of these experience workforce towards higher vocational education and certification.