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By Peter Sibon
SIBU, March 13: Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) and University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) achieved a milestone of sorts today when they inked a deal to train at least 10,000 skilled workers for the construction industry.
Sheda’s Technical Research and Manpower Development Sub-Committee chairman Dato William Wei said currently the skilled workforce in the state was shrinking; hence, the high dependence on foreign workers.
“We must strive to get Sarawakians to be trained better than the foreign workforce by giving them the proper training and guidance. With proper training, we believe we are as good as others,” Wei told a news conference at UCTS campus here today.
He added that Sheda and UCTS would collaborate to train technically skilled workers based on the needs of the construction industry.
“The objective of Sheda to work with UCTS is for Sheda to come up with a competent workforce that is no longer in the market. We believe that it is high time that we collaborate with UCTS to train skilled workers who are marketable,” said Wei.
He added that the construction industry in the state was in dire need of skilled brick layers, tile layers, cement plasterers, plumbers and roof installers.
“We want to start with the basic skills first. We do not want to go too far. From these basic skills, then we can move on to a new level that could include housekeeping, engineering skills and designing,” he said.
Wei is optimistic that with the training provided by UCTS, these students would be awarded certificates that would be recognized by Sheda.
“Besides that, Sheda will employ them,” he assured.
Former Sheda president Zaidi Ahmad said the skilled training offered by UCTS would enhance the status of the local workers in the construction industry.
“With the certificate, they can command better pay, and it will give them better confidence in life,” he said.
Meanwhile, UCTS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid said UCTS would come up with a ‘tailored module’ to train basic technical skills required in the local construction sector.
“A duration of between 3-6 weeks would be crucial to train skilled workers for the construction industry. And to make it efficient, for each class, we can take in only between 20 and 30 students per session.
“The collaboration will be multiple-concept. But to start, we will help Sheda to train a skilled and competent workforce,” he said.
Khairuddin added that UCTS would also help Sheda on a short-term, medium-term and long-term basis.
“For the short-term, we will sit down again next week for a meeting to come up with a programme to identify what kind of skills they need for the training. At the same time, we will also come up with a programme quickly, based on certain benchmarks and the industrial best practices, and at the same time, we need the help from Sheda for supervisors, people who are expert on hands-on skill to match with our expertise,” he said.
Khairuddin also suggested that Sheda and UCTS collaborate as a training-provider for the industry that could cater not only for Sarawak but also for the whole country.
“That could be done at the next level,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sheda’s deputy president Augustine Wong revealed that Sheda wrote to Chief Minster Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg recently on the need to set up a technical committee to study how to train skilled workers so that these workers would be employable in the construction industry.
He also highlighted the need to address the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.
For that to become a reality, Sheda appointed Wei to lead the Technical Research and Manpower Development Sub-Committee.
Present at the closed-door discussion was Second Minister of Finance and Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce cum chairman of UCTS Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh. — DayakDaily