Tuesday, 18 July 2017

(The Star) Malaysia takes the lead in cutting unemployment

It is always great news when Malaysia gets noticed – from being a rich cultural melting pot to its many attractions befitting a popular tourist destination.

Now, we can proudly say that our country is also recognised for its successful implementation of the 1Malaysia Training Scheme, better known as Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M).

Just last month, the SL1M secretariat was invited by the United Nations to represent Malaysia at the United Nations Public Service Forum 2017 (UNPSF2017) held at The Hague, Netherlands.

The forum was to discuss public administration innovations in key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as countries mobilise efforts in a bid to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change by 2030.

Delegates from over 100 countries gathered for the two-day forum as they examined issues and explored solutions following the theme “The Future is Now: Accelerating Public Service Innovation for Agenda 2030”.

Joining industry experts on the big stage was SL1M secretariat head Norashikin Ismail who presented the Government’s initiatives in addressing unemployment issues in Malaysia, especially among young job seekers.

Sharing ideas: The UNPSF2017, which took place at The Hague, Netherlands, was held to discuss public administration innovations in key Sustainable Development Goals.

She explained the aim of SL1M, and its success in assisting over 120,000 graduates in securing jobs nationwide, under the “Job Creation and Prosperity” category, which was one among eight topics addressed at the forum.

It highlighted the importance of employment to help people escape poverty, and empower women and other vulnerable groups in enhancing their well-being through innovative approaches taken by governments in promoting job creation, decent work and prosperity.

As a result, Norashikin stated that delegates of the different countries approached her to find out more about SL1M.

“Many were also surprised to learn that SL1M is fully sponsored and engineered by the private sector.

“To them, the public and private sectors are two very separate entities, and it’s difficult to achieve collaboration between the two,” she revealed, adding that interested parties were invited to Malaysia to learn more about SL1M.

She added that last year, she received a call from Ireland’s ambassador who intended to send a team of professors from Dublin to study SL1M.

“I am proud, not only because we were selected to showcase SL1M on a global platform, but because we are now recognised by many countries for our efforts,” said Norashikin during a media session held at the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) at the Prime Minister’s Department, Putrajaya.

Skim Latihan 1Malaysia was first established by Bank Negara Malaysia in 2009 as part of its corporate social responsibility programme before being absorbed into EPU two years later to operate on a bigger scale.

The main aim of SL1M was to assist underprivileged graduates from the rural and urban poor and marginalised society.

Through this initiative, graduates have the opportunity to train and work in private or government-linked companies (GLCs) while these corporations play their part in contributing to the country’s talent development agenda.

Currently, there are over 300 companies working hand-in-hand with SL1M to enhance graduate employability in the country.

An achievement: Norashikin is proud not only because they were selected to showcase SL 1M on a global platform, but also because they are now recognised by many countries for their efforts.

Most companies are in the service sector, followed by the finance and investment industries, and transportation and logistics, while other sectors include manufacturing, oil and gas, information and communications, and construction and real estate.

“Since 2011, we have helped the Government save over RM2bil in cost as training and other expenses are borne by the companies,” she revealed.

Under the SL1M training programme, graduates with a Degree, Masters or PhD qualification who have difficulty finding jobs will be taken into participating companies.

For up to 12 months, they will be trained and equipped with skills and knowledge, while being given a monthly allowance.

Most times, the companies will absorb these trainees into permanent employment should they succeed in the training.

Those who are not accepted can always seek the assistance of SL1M to continue looking for companies with suitable job vacancies.

To encourage more companies to be part of this programme, and perhaps make it their corporate social responsibility initiative, companies are entitled to a double-tax deduction incentive, or training expenses incurred can be HRDF-claimable.

Over the years, SL1M has also conducted an Open Interview Programme whereby companies held on-the-spot interviews and issued offer letters to successful applicants.

“The nationwide career event offers job vacancies not just for graduates, but for anyone, regardless of age and qualifications, who has a minimum Year Six schooling.

“Job applicants can also participate in career talks on enhancing their resumes and job interviews,” Norashikin added.

When asked about the current youth unemployment rate in Malaysia, Norashikin estimated it to be around 250,000 people who are still searching for jobs.

“Aside from having no work experience, one of the main reasons why our graduates are still unemployed is because of their attitude and wrong mindset.

“They are picky in choosing only big companies. They also don’t want jobs that are difficult, dangerous, demeaning and dirty, yet expect high pay with more time to enjoy life.

“Parents, society and educators all play a crucial role in cultivating their attitude and discipline so that they are aware that success comes from hard work,” said Norashikin, who was trained as a lawyer.

Some of the success stories include an engineer who grew up in trying circumstances without electricity or water; a corporate planning executive who started out at his father’s roti canai stall and a bank credit analyst who helped his parents tap rubber when he was young.

“It is satisfying and fulfilling to help our youths secure jobs, because it not only helps them, but their families too. We are really committed to doing what we can to help those in need,” Norashikin concluded.

The Open Interview Programme 2017 is ongoing now, with the next roadshow taking place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (July 22 to 23); Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC) in Ayer Keroh, Melaka (Aug 26 to 27) and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim, Perak (Sept 23 to 24).