#atozchallenge: Revving up the nation’s driving force

The 2nd Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Human Capital Summit was organised to bring together senior representatives from the government, business sector, academia and training providers to discuss the key issues facing human capital development in Malaysia, with the intention of charting the way forward for the nation.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the summit on 25 May 2016 at Sunway Putra Hotel Kuala Lumpur. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience for me, and it provided valuable insights into the state of human capital and the mismatch between human capital demand and the supply provided by the institutions of higher learning.

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Supply vs. Demand

As the day progressed and respected speakers took to the stage one by one to share their knowledge and observations, a marked trend emerged. Firstly, parents, teachers and school counsellors all prioritised professional qualifications such as medical and engineering degrees, and pushed students and their own children towards achieving success in professions which they thought were superior, until there is now a surplus of degree holders, but a significant shortage in skilled and technical specialisations. So, what sort of human capital do we actually need?

“Annually, 100,000 youth do not enrol in any tertiary programme after SPM. Not even certificate courses,” said Associate Professor Elajsolan Mohan, President of the National Association of Private Educational Institutions (NAPEI) during the CEO panel discussion. “To compound the issue, career counsellors in schools are not updated about the prime areas of human capital demand.”

He added, “The top area of demand is currently the manufacturing sector. There is a real and growing demand for Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) graduates.”

The graduate unemployment statistics he presented drove the point home. Among fresh graduates (with degrees), 31% are now unemployed, of which 43% are from the Arts and Social Sciences. Meanwhile, 25% were from Technical, 20% from Science, 4% from Education, and 8% from ICT.

Top 15 job sectors that are most sought after by applicants in Malaysia since 2011

 

RANKING BY YEAR
(By Average Applicants)

SECTOR

2011

2012

2013

Government/NGO

1

1

1

Oil & Gas

3

2

2

Engineering/Industrial Services

4

4

3

Financial & Banking

2

3

4

Agriculture/Aquaculture

6

6

5

FMCG

5

5

6

Education

7

8

7

Call Centre/BPO

8

7

8

Logistics

9

9

9

Manufacturing – SemiCon

14

10

10

Manufacturing – E&E

15

12

11

Others

12

13

12

Biotech/Healthcare

10

11

13

Manufacturing – Production

13

14

14

Construction

11

15

15

(Source: Associate Professor Elajsolan Mohan’s slides)

 

Top 15 job sectors in Malaysia since 2011

RANKING

SECTOR

1

Manufacturing – Production

2

Construction

3

ICT

4

Financial & Banking

5

Wholesale & Retail

6

Hospitality

7

Consulting

8

Biotech/Healthcare

9

Manufacturing – E&E

10

Others

11

Human Resources/RF

12

Oil & Gas

13

Education

14

Printing/Arts

15

FMCG

(Source: Associate Professor Elajsolan Mohan’s slides)

Mohan also shared with us what employers are saying about graduates these days:

  1. 68% of graduates are asking for unrealistic salaries
  • With 30% asking for a whopping starting salary of RM6,500 (no wonder they are unemployed!)
  1. 59% exhibit poor attitude or character
  2. 64% do not have a good level of English
  3. 60% lacked communication skills

“Employers also felt that fresh graduates lacked adaptability, multitasking ability and decision-making skills,” he added. So, university students and fresh graduates have to take note to improve on these important areas to raise their level of employability.

What can be done?

“The universities are not supposed to produce 100% employable graduates,” said Mr. Tay Kay Luan, Chief Executive of the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers, who provided a realistic viewpoint.

“A workable approach is the 70:20:10 rule, which is 70% effective learning on the job, 20% coaching and mentoring, and 10% training and certification,” Mr. Tay explained. Created by three researchers and authors working with the Centre for Creative Leadership in the 1980s, the 70:20:10 model for learning and development is a common proven formula within the training profession.

Daniel Bernbeck, the Executive Director of the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was invited to provide some advice because Germany was well-respected as a developed nation where industries flourished.

“Originally, what is Germany today was a collection of small kingdoms, and they all did things differently. Even until today, 80% of Germany still consists of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” said Bernbeck, providing some historical information. “To standardise everything, guilds and chambers of industry were set up. They, in turn, set the standards, and ensured the commitment to the standards was upheld.”

Bernbeck further elaborated, “The onus is on private companies in industries, and TVET training is provided by the companies themselves. Students spend two days in classes and three days working as apprentices in the company every week. They are fruitfully employed, are paid for work done, and have a three-year apprenticeship contract. Now, the latest trend is to move the classroom into the company itself, because education cannot keep up with the developments in industry fast enough.”

However, when asked how Malaysia can emulate the successful free education of Germany, Bernbeck gave a candid response. “Germany’s free education is funded by taxes. High income earners can pay up to as much as 53% in taxes.” Gasps of surprise were heard from the audience.

The future of tertiary education

The way forwarded in education was summarised well by Prof. Dr. Ahmad Rafi Mohamed Eshaq, President of Multimedia University, in the final panel discussion, which consisted of representatives from institutions of higher learning. He shared the drivers of change (university of the future) published by Ernst & Young:

  1. Digital technologies is the way forward – blended learning, with a mixture of traditional and digital tools
  2. Integration with industry
  3. Global mobility
  4. Contestability of markets and funding
  5. Democratisation of knowledge and access

Finally, Prof. Wahid Razally, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, highlighted that TVET instructors as well as graduates needed to be provided ample avenues for their continual growth and development in institutions of higher learning.

“TVET graduates can work in a company for 20 years and remain exactly the same. Universities should provide higher TVET courses to offer the chance for them to upgrade and develop themselves further, even to Master or PhD level,” said Prof. Wahid Razally.

It was a thought-provoking day, and it was hoped that participants took back new knowledge and fresh insights to their companies and organisations, to better inform them of the actual trends in the nation’s human capital developments, and how to address the significant mismatch between demand and supply.

Note:

A shorter version of this article was published in Lakeviews Issue #48. Lakeviews is the bulletin of the Rotary Club of Lake Gardens, District 3300.

Citation: Khor Hui Min (2016). Revving up the nation’s driving force. Lakeviews Issue #48. Kuala Lumpur: Rotary Club of Lake Gardens (District 3300).

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#atozchallenge: Quirky Hin Bus Depot

Across the road from the shiny modern Hotel NEO+ Penang, lies the unassuming and run-down Hin Bus Depot. Definitely looking like it has seen better days, one would think that it was abandoned and left to fall apart. However, on closer inspection, there was actually a cafe visible in there. Out of curiosity, we had to go in to check it out, didn’t we?

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Hin Bus Depot (black section on the right is a modern cafe)

Any first-time visitors are in for a surprise. Once an abandoned bus depot, it has been converted into an art space, and there is a pop-up market happening every Sunday from 11am till 5pm as well. Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic held his first solo art exhibition here in 2014, and his larger than life murals have turned the abandoned bus depot into another world altogether.

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Ernest Zacharevic – Art is Rubbish/Rubbish is Art (2014)

Ernest combines fine art techniques with a passion for creating art in the outdoors, and is interested in the interaction of murals and the urban landscape. His artwork results from a spontaneous response to the environment, the community and culture.

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Exposed walls become large canvases for artistic expression
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Walls covered in murals
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Mural by Ernest (2014)
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Mural by Ernest (2014)

The Hin Bus Depot is continually evolving, and more artists will be leaving their mark there soon, promising more exhibitions in the months to come.

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Zodiac (2015) by Thomas Powell of England. Thomas is a fine art graduate from Loughborough University.
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Urban Exchange (2015) by Sabek. Sabek is a street artist based in Madrid, Spain. 
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Urban Exchange (2015) by Hiroyasu Tsuri (aka TWOONE) from Japan. In 2004, Hiroyasu started to spread his recognisable animal character painting all over Melbourne’s walls. His paintings often depict animal-headed human characters.
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Painting without a name done on a door
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Decorated pillar
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Art indoors
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Urban Exchange newsletter distributed at Hin Bus Depot
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Tavern in the Park @ Hin Bus Depot
Venue name: Hin Bus Depot Art Centre
Contact:
Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara
Penang
10300
Opening hours: Daily, 12noon-8pm

#atozchallenge: Poring Hot Spring

I went to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in April 2016, and while on a day tour of Kundasang and Kinabalu Park, I visited Poring Hot Spring. It is part of Kinabalu Park, and there are quite a lot of things going on in there. I was not expecting to find a modern swimming pool, complete with water slide in there, but there it was. 😉  Besides that, they have a butterfly garden, canopy walk, Kipungit Waterfall, Bat Cave, Langanan Waterfall, and a restaurant.

Located 40 km slightly northeast from the Kinabalu Park HQ, Poring Hot Spring is located in the lowlands, while the Park HQ is located in the higlands. Very popular among the locals, Poring Hot Springs is a place where visitors soak away their soreness and aches in the spring’s hot sulphuric minerals, which is deemed to have healing properties.

One can easily spend a day at Poring Hot Springs, and it is a suitable place for the whole family. Here are some photos I took there:

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Yup, there’s a modern swimming pool and a pool with a water slide at Poring Hot Springs

The individual hot spring tubs look very clean and nice. Just turn on the taps and hot water from the hot spring will collect in your personal little dunking tub. You can submerge your whole body in the hot water, or you can just soak your feet.

The walk up to the canopy walk was an uphill hike. The path was well-maintained and clean, and ‘steps’ were fashioned from the natural contours of the earth. The canopy walk itself was well-maintained and clean too, and there was a nice view.

 

Other articles I wrote about Sabah:

 

#atozchallenge: One day at the market

Happy Labour Day! 🙂

This morning, I engaged in a bit of street photography at the SPPK Market in Ipoh. I did a walkabout and snapped photos fast to capture the essence of the moment in the peak hours of the market’s operations, which was a bit hard to do because my bulky camera was sort of obvious and people tend to notice it.

My favourite stall of the day was the dumpling stall, because the dumplings were photogenic. 😉

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Dumpling stall
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The dumplings were made fresh at the stall, with sengkuang filling
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Dumplings with sengkuang filling, waiting to be steamed

Here are some snapshots from the other market stalls:

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Cake stall
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Noodle stall
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Glutinous rice dumpling and nyonya kuih stall
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Potato stall
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Fruit stall
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Vegetable stall
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Stall selling dried condiments and other dried foodstuff
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Vegetable stall
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Stall selling buns and snacks
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Fruit stall
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Three types of mangoes
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Beancurd stall
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Dried seafood stall, selling dried anchovies and cuttlefish
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Vegetable stall
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Lady selling fishballs right outside the market entrance
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Man promoting a kitchen appliance – a sort of chopper device
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At a stall selling floor mats outside the market
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At a vegetable stall
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At a fish stall. The man asked me why I did not take his photo. 😉
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IMG_0474a At a plant stall outside the market