One of the roles of the Malaysia Automotive Institute is the development of human capital for the automotive industry. As talent is an unmistakable asset to the economy, we have developed several programmes aimed at the different levels and skill sets - school leavers, undergraduates, fresh graduates as well as those already working.
Since our programs began in 2012, we have trained thousands of youths and executives who are now serving within the industry, creating new employment opportunities and enhancing existing careers.
I have had the opportunity to personally interact with many participants of our programs. Overall, we have tremendous potential amongst our youth, signifying the quality of our education system.
However, there is one particular aspect that requires reinvention – it is how, as a society, we perceive qualifications.
The old saying goes, “Success is a journey, not a destination”. This simply means that success has no end point, it is what we do in life that defines success. For many, success is measured by the gains of their lifetime of work – the cash balance, house and car, and the provisions rendered to the family.
Although happiness, spiritual being and others are perfectly valid yardsticks, materialistic gain is a perfect measurement too, it is tangible and most importantly, realistic.
Academic qualification, on the other hand, is a tricky measurement to discuss. Every parent hopes that their children excel in their studies and achieve the highest merit possible. We are told in school that the university is the garden of opportunity and the start of a meaningful life. Yet, it is difficult to explain that the realities of life provide many routes to success, and these routes need not be “academic” in nature.
This societal perception is addressed in this series.
Various reports in high income nations show that the earnings gap between blue and white collar jobs are narrowing. This is due partly to the fact that in order for society to progress, not only must wealth distribution be fairer, but the emergence of the need for a skilled and “hands-on” workforce.
Despite improvements in production efficiency during the last three industrial revolutions, “unskilled” labor was very much in high demand, despite an increase in the mechanisation of manufacturing processes.
As we strive through Industry 4.0, unskilled labor will soon be replaced with a high level automation, rendering them obsolete in future operations. However, the future labourer needs to be trained in a specific and highly specialised skill set, not in academic classroom theory, but in skills training institutions that recognise them for specialised job competency.
As I spoke to some of the participants of our programs, in particular the programs for school leavers, I unearthed an unfortunate truth – many of those who do not possess academic qualifications were labelled as failures by many. They are doomed for low earning, blue collar jobs with dead end careers.
More damaging, is that many of these people are showing signs that they believe it themselves. When asked about their qualifications, the common answer seems to be: “All I have is a skill certificate”. Is now time to change this, and realign their beliefs towards a successful career path.
As a progressive society, it is important that we work together to rebrand and reinvent this notion. We will discuss this reinvention in our next article.
“Success isn’t just about your life accomplishments. It also about what you inspire others to do”.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.