Premier urges contractors to work with universities for internship programme to increase human capital

Abang Johari addressing the Seminar on New Initiatives to Enhance Sarawak's Construction Industry at BCCK today (Feb 8, 2023). Photo credit: Ukas

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By Karen Bong and Ling Hui

KUCHING, Feb 8: Construction companies should collaborate with universities or technical skills centres to create internship programmes that have the potential to not only increase their human resources but also develop students’ talent by exposing them to practical skills.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg proposed this as part of the Sarawak government’s new approach and effort to improve the local construction industry’s competitive edge.

“Contractors need to increase their staffing or human resources because I can assure you that there will be a lot more initiatives (development projects) from the government heading towards 2030.

“So perhaps, you (contractors) can work together with the university to create an internship scheme where you oversee the project management and get students to intern (with the company) to provide them with real world experience. And if they are good, you can absorb them into the company,” he said when officiating at the Seminar on New Initiatives to Enhance Sarawak’s Construction Industry at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.

Speaking to the seminar participants who were mainly contractors, Abang Johari elaborated that quality talent coupled with the interest to embrace technology are the keys to grow and remain competitive in any industry today.

“You cannot avoid this. It is the technology that turns a company around because they can control the cost. The overhead is fixed and productivity from the machine is better. You should know very well about automation. With new technology, you can reduce the cost and it is more efficient and can increase your productivity,” he emphasised.

Urging contractors to adopt new construction technology, Abang Johari referred to the methanol plant project in Bintulu being undertaken by Samsung which used fabrication and modular construction for speedier execution and implementation of the plant.

“They fabricate the (plant structure) model in Vietnam, and bring them down to Bintulu via barges. The fabricated parts are then fixed on the foundation, screwed in place and the building is up. So the project will not be delayed but on time,” he said.

This approach, he added, can also be adopted in the housing construction sector as the designs for houses are more or less standard where parts can be fabricated and delivered to site for installation.

“If you study the construction industry, that’s how China is able to build a hospital in such a short time. This is what we call modular construction,” he said.

With that, Abang Johari urged contractors to work together with the government in ensuring timely delivery of projects across Sarawak for the benefit of the people.

“We introduced initiatives to help contractors but contractors must also help themselves. When we engage like this, we must work together for the sake of the people.

“I have tried my best to engineer revenue for Sarawak. Using our financial model to develop the region, and with our strong financial position, the only thing we need is people to implement it. I believe we can achieve our 2030 vision where people will benefit from the high income economy,” he pointed out.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Development Ir Aidel Lariwoo and Deputy Minister of Port Development Dato Majang Renggi were among those present. — DayakDaily