• Madani Sahari

Skills development ensures industry's competitiveness

Low oil price, USA interest rate issues and China recent lower growth rate have impacted the global economy for 2015 and the scenario seem to be continuing into 2016.

The current demand by the British government for the European Union (EU) to reform with a threat of the country resorting a referendum to leave the EU should the Union fail to adhere to proposed reform. The referendum may affect European economyand this may further impacted the global economy should the referendum proceeds next year and in favour British withdrawal from the EU.

While economic recovery seems promising in the USA, economic uncertainties in the other global economic influential nations such as China and the UK may prolong the global economic stagnation come 2016.

Although Malaysia is foreseen to be able to at least maintain its growth, the possible gloomy global economic scenario next year will in one way or another affect the nation’s economic performance.

Manufacturing sector, particularly automotive, may face a greater challenge should economic sluggishness took its shape in 2016. In this respect most advance countries will take a proactive initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of their industries in preparation for the forthcoming economic recovery.

The government recent RMK 11 announcement has given a higher emphasis on human capital development in the next five years plan is a move in the right direction. An allocation of RM1 billion in the next five years for the Skill Development Fund will enable the incoming younger workforce to receive skills and vocational education.

Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) has been active in providing bridging training programmes for newly graduated younger workforce to prepare them to enter the automotive sector.

Programmes such as; “Automotive Industry Certification Engineering (AICE)” for university graduates, “Automotive Industry Graduate Apprenticeship” for university new intakes, and Industry Led Professional Certificate (IPC) skill training institutions graduates, are constantly pursued.

While Human capital Development initiatives are being intensified, automotive vendors quality enhancement programme were also implemented and will be continued into 2016.

“Automotive Supplier Excellence Programme (ASEP) is one of those programmes implemented to provide a structured framework for on-going improvement of the local vendors. The programme benchmarks the local vendors against one another and the best-in-class international companies in order to establish their respective level of competitiveness.

Another quality assurance management programme that have been aggressively implemented by the local vendors is the “Lean Production System (LPS)” to inculcate work cultures amongst vendors acceptable to the OEMs.

The concept of “interchangeability” of mating parts in components assembly developed in 1913 marked the beginning of mass production of automobile by Ford in the USA. The assembly and parts manufacturing has since evolved and various quality systems and practices were developed and introduced on the production line.

Toyota on the other hand introduced the “Toyota Production System” in 1930 to ensure its quality production is sustainable and has since became the leading lean exemplar in the world of automotive quality manufacturing.

Since 2011 MAI has help to develop the LPS practices amongst the local automotive industries and to date some 108 companies are now practicing LPS diligently to ensure their quality outputs.

Intensification of the LPS practices and LPS skill development amongst automotive workforce is crucial to further enhance the industry competitiveness. Further the concept of LPS must be introduce at the early stage of learning amongst the forthcoming automotive workers.

In this respect, while the nation economic uncertainty may prolonged into 2016 and beyond, aggressive training and education in the concept of LPS should be the focus by the automotive community in preparation for the forthcoming economic recovery.

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