Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Human trafficking is a heinous crime. This must stop.

Human trafficking is understood to mean recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving or accommodating a person, using force, with the aim of exploiting that person. The exploitation is the core of human trafficking. This exploitation is mainly taking place in the sex industry, for example when someone works involuntarily for someone else in prostitution, but also in other economic sectors. It is about such poor working conditions and conditions that human rights are at stake.
Trafficking in women is no different from trafficking in human beings. Human trafficking is the gender-neutral term.

Men and boys can also become victims of human trafficking. The term trafficking in women emphasizes the gender-specific nature, and that is important to keep in mind.

Forced crime also falls under human trafficking. Also criminal as human trafficking is the forcibly recruiting, transporting, etc. of another person with the aim of removing organs from that person's body.

Internationally there are estimates available in this report: 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labor and Forced Marriage, a collaboration of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with International Organization for Migration (IOM):

According to this report, an estimated 40.3 million people are victims of modern slavery at any given time. Of these, 24.9 million were forced to work and 15.4 million were forced to marry someone. Of the 24.9 million people who do forced work, 20.1 million (81%) people are victims of other labor exploitation and 4.8 million (19%) people are victims of sexual exploitation.

We have to stop this and World Day UNODC is focusing on highlighting the criticality of this issue and responsible governments and local authorities can take  action in the interest of victims of trafficking. The call to action is not only to governments, it is for everyone who find such activity in their locality can report  to prevent this heinous crime.

The human trafficking care coordinator are available in all countries and they are special coordinators in a region for victims of human trafficking. They can refer the identified cases to institutions that can help you with problems or concerns.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Skills for the differently abled person in Malaysia

A person who is differently abled may have bodily or mental functions that are partially impaired, but may have talents, skills and strengths that can be utilized in the workforce.
Initially, parents were not too keen to have children classified as special needs, but these attitudes are now changing, resulting in far more children with special needs getting an education, often even a tertiary one.
The recent implementation of the Education Ministry’s “zero reject” policy is an important step in ensuring that children with special needs grow up with the same opportunities as other children. The aim is to also prevent school dropouts among this group.
Since the schools now have to accept these students and prepare an individual education plan for each child with a special need, far more teachers need to be trained in order to be able to identify problems and to teach each child according to the particular problem.
The differently abled in Malaysia still face many challenges between primary school and finding a job. These include early detection of the disability, timely intervention, lack of infrastructure and accessibility, financial constraints and lack of qualified educators.
Public sector is pushing this mission by employing more disabled people. Many companies in Private Sector have decided that this group within the population deserves to have the same opportunities as the rest and are offering jobs and the relevant training. 

There are also many people with disabilities who have, despite the challenges, managed to complete their higher tertiary education and to hold jobs in legal, tech and economic activities.
The differently abled persons  can and will play an important role in the economy of Malaysia.

Improving Functional Illiteracy in Malaysia

The population of Malaysia has a satisfactory rate of literacy and this is mostly because of the national policies implemented since 1961. A variety of programs, established to assist adult learners to attain the necessary skills, have enabled many to become productive citizens of a growing economy.
Literacy is one of the most important indicators of a country’s human capital development. Functional illiteracy does not allow for people to be employed and nor can they attain their desired quality of life.
For Example: There is a study by National Focus on Literacy, that 22% of the adult U.K population is functionally illiterate Costing the U.K £81billion annually Highest cost of any European Nation.
However, functional illiteracy, when the reading and writing skills are inadequate for employment, still prevents many people in Malaysia from getting employment opportunities or education at a higher level.
The national education system’s main goal is to provide literacy proficiency.  Unfortunately, there are still higher levels than desired of students who do not master the required reading, writing and arithmetic skills by the end of primary school. The drop out levels from both primary and secondary school levels are still at a higher level than desired.
Critical and creative thinking can be taught, but is often hampered by background, family situations, culture, environment and socio-economic factors. Education policies in Malaysia still need to address the fact that teachers need special training where they will be able to teach students the learning process of understanding or as it was put in one study, “to learn to learn”.
Students need to be given strong skills in comprehension, intensive writing, collaborative learning and self sufficiency in learning which builds a positive culture in students.
Encouraging young people to want more than just functional literacy and to move into the realm of critical literacy should be the top priority of the education system.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Time Management Skills create improved performance

time management

Employees that are taught to manage their time correctly are better at accomplishing business targets and also reach personal goals within their career faster.
Time management skills encompass 7 areas that reflect on the performance of daily tasks. 
They include organization, prioritization, goal-setting, communication, planning, delegation, and stress management.
Any employee that can learn to effectively manage their time will be able to carry out all the demanding tasks that include maintaining a calendar, meetings and tasks in the correct order of priority, helping the company that employs them to achieve the desired goals.
Excellent time management skills also allow employees to be completely focused during meetings, instead of fretting internally about something important that was forgotten. It also allows employees to have creative and proactive thoughts leading to positive outcomes for the company and for their personal career.
Time management skills can be taught and people who have them are very sought after by employees.
There are 3 important steps that can be taken to improve time management and they include:
1.     The creation of short and long-term goals which should be specific, measurable, relevant, and achievable.

2.     Managing a calendar where tasks are prioritized according to importance and adhering to it.

3.     Assignments should be prioritized according to their due dates and the importance of this cannot be ignored, since they can affect business goals.
Time management skills and future skill development go hand- in-hand when it comes to ensuring a stronger workforce in Malaysia.

Youth and Leadership Development in Malaysia

youth associations and leadership development

Youth associations, the age groups here range from 15 to 40, are essential to providing young people with the opportunity to experience critical non-formal learning experiences that cannot be learnt elsewhere. The marginalization of younger people from Malaysian society’s organizational power structures does not allow them to experience leadership.
These youth organizations have become the training ground to help teach young people leadership skills by allowing them to gain experience through community-based learning.  The learning of what is referred to as “soft” skills are important for career development, and not only.
It is often seen in Malaysia that the leaders of youth organizations become national leaders and leaders in the world of business. However, there is a barrier between the Youth and Sports and Education ministries and Youth and youth leadership associations.
Proper co-operation would allow the youth associations to work with the schools as co-curricular bodies and could help provide students with non-formal, enriching educational opportunities. The association members could also take the role of mentors to the school-goers. Youth associations could play a holistic and supportive role within the school environment and for scholars at a younger age. The average leadership training age is now 25, whereas, if it was implemented at school going age, it would be 15; a whole 10 years earlier.
At a younger age, youth association membership would mean that scholars will learn some of the important leadership development skills that will help them to either serve their country or enterprises. Whether their own or multi-nationals.
Finally, perhaps even though youth and leadership development counts as non-formal education, it can still stand side-by-side with formal education to encourage lifelong learning. It can help produce service-oriented youth who are ready to tackle Malaysia and the world. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Innovation and start-ups in Malaysia

innovation and start-ups

Vision 2020 is the plan that was developed by the Malaysian government in 1996 to achieve economic self sufficiency by 2020.  Rather revolutionary at the time, the creation of a government- designated area to create and entice firms to build a technology hub in the region has paid off.
The country has seen a rapid growth in start-ups, particularly tech-based companies, encouraged by other dynamic government initiatives.
The Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bureau (MAVCAP) was formed in 2001 and is a government-owned venture capital firm that invests in small and emerging information, communication and technology firms.
Another government owned agency, Cradle Fund, also provides early stage funding and one of their major success stories is Xeus, used for mobile network optimization in operators across the globe.
Malaysia proved with its Companies Act that it favours start-ups. The business registration process has been simplified with less paperwork and the cost of launching a business is low.
It’s not only the government that is investing in these efforts and many organizations are also involved in helping establish Malaysia as a powerful player in the field of innovations and tech start-ups.
With a high level of literacy and skills, Malaysia has a workforce of skilled and semi-skilled workers that make it easy for start-ups to find the right workforce.
Malaysia has had the foresight to provide the right conditions for innovation and start-ups. By implementing the right policies in the education system these businesses also find that they can rely on a workforce that is already well trained or willing to up-skill. The future looks bright!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Competence building in VUCA World

Competence in a behavioural perspective is a capacity that includes knowledge, insight, attitude and skill aspects to do a set of tasks to attain specific goals. It is a skill or competence that you have acquired by learning or training. It is something that you can do perform and drive expected outcomes.

Competences or skills are specific, personal characteristics that are reflected in successful behavior. Competencies determine whether you are suitable for a particular position and whether you fit within a specific organisational culture.

The new world of work, whether construction industry, services, or manufacturing which is characterized by digitisation in one end on the other to face a situation termed as VUCA world, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity demands on the workforce: they should be able to deal creatively and effectively with unknown situations and make decisions. Knowledge and hard skills certifications are not enough. Rather, it is essential that employees know how to use their knowledge & skills effectively with soft skills as per conditions.

Soft skills, such as Adaptability is critical.  The employers will be assessing you on how you handle 'changes'. How do you respond to stressful situations? How you find balance in your work, in private and work or in your life? How assertive are you? How you give feedback or how you receive feedback?  How you communicate and treat your colleagues below and above.

Analytical skills:

Along with Soft skills, competence also covers analytical thinking that is essential not only for engineers,  project managers, computer scientists and natural scientists but also for consultants, accountants, Management Information Systems, program controllers and tax specialists.

Problem-solving skills:

It is the ability to solve complex problems that you face at work and also develop new ideas. It is the willingness to make decisions to implement creative solutions. To make sure not to postpone the problem or not to pass the problem but make sure that the solving ideas are executed and have the necessary effect. Finally, it is the willingness to take responsibility for possible wrong decisions also.

So competence is a specific range of knowledge, skill, ability to do the tasks effectively and also capable of meeting the expectations and outcomes. In our organisations within Malaysia, as well as across the globe, there is an increased need to build the right competencies for the employees who can manage change, creativity, productivity and growth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fundamental / Basic Skills Employability

The initiatives under the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025 is helping graduates secure better jobs. These include an integrated cumulative grade point average and work-based learning programs in close collaboration with industry.

One of the most highly sought after skills are proficiency in the English language, followed by exposure to real-world situations.  In Malaysia there is a satisfactory pool of English speakers but many graduates struggle to express themselves in the language and also lack confidence to speak it. 

Effective communication is very important in business today, especially for those in the service sector.

Secondary school leavers in Malaysia often worry more about taking more examination subjects in order to try and get excellent marks. This was a plan to secure scholarships. Luckily, in recent years this has started to change and extracurricular activities also count toward university entrance.

It has also been a positive change that university students are now encouraged to seek internship programmes. In the past students often complained about how difficult it was to get internship positions in companies. Even though things have changed drastically, many students were not being matched to companies for internships. A centralized government body is in place to ensure that all students are now matched to do a short-term internship program.

Secondary school students should be encouraged to get temporary jobs in lieu of credits like they do in other countries. The younger they gain this experience the easier it will be for them to work with others later.

Finally, students should seek to gain some general knowledge by reading, participating in discussions, and taking an interest in the world around them. This could include business, economy, politics, and technology and definitely increases their chances of employability.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Future of skill development and its importance for Malaysia

The importance of having a skilled workforce cannot be emphasized enough. With continuous upgrading of their skills, employees can compete for better job opportunities, especially Industry 4.0 in the corner,  while they can also command higher wages. 

When countries like Switzerland have almost 50% skilled manpower, then Malaysia, with only 28%, needs to deal with this issue fast. This can be addressed through increased investment in education, something that the government has committed itself to and has allocated RM50 million in human resources development programs. Their aim is to achieve a 45% skilled workforce by 2030. 

However, it is not just enough that the government has committed to this. Employers and the workforce within industries also need to share in this vision in order to ensure that the goal is achieved. 

The key players each have to offer something from their perspective. The government, through the relevant departments, needs to provide the infrastructure and the financial resources. Employers and other key industry players need to make sure that they provide learning strategies and also seek to employ forward-thinking people with vision. 

By equipping employees with critical thinking skills, employers are teaching them to be flexible and ready for the demands of the future. These critical skills will help the workforce to be the new managers and leaders in the years to come. 

By developing the skills of the workforce, companies will not struggle to find the skills required as older people reach retirement age. They will have a solid, knowledgeable, highly trained workforce to tap into to fill these gaps.

Team Work and Goal Setting help employees to achieve goals

team work in offices

Administrative leaders, Business leaders and department managers need to set goals in order to see better performances from their employees. It has been proven that setting goals work better than not setting any, or on just relying on employees to do their best. 

It has also been proven that setting goals within a team allows for a group effort, with everyone aligned toward the same end goal. Individuals can also thrive on the ability to work autonomously within a team, creating better productivity. 

Benefits of team work
The benefits of setting team goals include a boost in team engagement, productivity, and retention, since every member of the team has a specific role in the overall strategy. A lot of time can be saved and there is improved efficiency.
Transparency is an important benefit of team work and goal setting. Everyone has their own responsibility, but knows that there is the rest of the team working alongside, so no one gets to feel unfairly burdened. Everyone feels more motivated to achieve and the collaboration allows for a shared interest in the final results rather than the ruthlessness of individual work. 

Effective team goal setting
Teams need to set goals on the task that needs to be completed. Working out the best way to improve the team performance might include sharing the responsibility for certain tasks while working individually on others. Proper time managements will ensure that the project is finished on time. Finally, communication should be encouraged in order allow for a harmonious outcome. 

Team work and goal setting allow for the development, formulation and implementation of new ideas in our organisations. Malaysian companies that seek to implement these principals will see increased problem solving, and the attainment of more goals, creating an effective and efficient company.

Time Management Skills create better employees

Employees that are taught to manage their time correctly are better at accomplishing business targets and also reach personal goals within their career faster. 

Time management skills encompass 7 areas that reflect on the performance of daily tasks. They include organization, prioritization, goal-setting, communication, planning, delegation, and stress management.

Any employee that can learn to effectively manage their time will be able to carry out all the demanding tasks that include maintaining a calendar, meetings and tasks in the correct order of priority, helping the company that employs them to achieve the desired goals.

Excellent time management skills also allow employees to be completely focused during meetings, instead of fretting internally about something important that was forgotten. It also allows employees to have creative and proactive thoughts leading to positive outcomes for the company and for their personal career.
Time management skills can be taught and people who have them are very sought after by employees. 

There are 3 important steps that can be taken to improve time management and they include:
1.     The creation of short and long-term goals which should be specific, measurable, relevant, and achievable.
2.     Managing a calendar where tasks are prioritized according to importance and adhering to it.
3.     Assignments should be prioritized according to their due dates and the importance of this cannot be ignored, since they can affect business goals. 

Time management skills and future skill development go hand- in-hand when it comes to ensuring a stronger workforce in Malaysia.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Enact laws against harassment, violence at work

Credits to https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/167926

The  convention against violence and harassment in the working world overwhelmingly adopted at the  108th Session of International Labour Conference in Geneva Switzerland. It was unfortunate that Malaysia had to abstain due to reasons that do not represent the universal conscience on the subject of harassment and violence especially in regard to those who are vulnerable.

 The argument that there is no universal definition of what constitutes harassment is flawed because if one looks at it from the prism of respect for human dignity, one may derive a universal understanding of what is harassment at the workplace. Respect for human dignity here is not about supporting a particular group’s lifestyle;  it is about creating working conditions that are dignified and which would help the nation achieve human capital development and productivity.

After some soul searching, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress has come out in support of the convention. It is an opportune time for the Government MEF and the unions to come up with a universal understanding of what constitutes harassment and violence at the work place in linewith  ILO convention. The law to eliminate all forms of harassment and violence should be incorporated in the Employment Act.

According to Article 1 of the ILO convention, violence and harassment in the workplace refers to a range of unacceptable behaviour and practices, or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and include violence and harassment based on gender.

Currently there are no laws against harassment and violence at the workplace except when the harassment is sexual in nature. In 2012, the Barisan Nasional government amended the Employment Act 1955 to include provisions dealing with sexual harassment. While such a law is crucial, it has narrowed the meaning of harassment as understood from a woman’s perspective while ignoring the broader dimension of harassment that affects man and women due to uneven power structures at work place and contextual aspect of harassment especially in the informal sectors of the economy such casual employment.

The ILO convention covers workers and other persons, including employees as defined by national law and practice, as well as persons working irrespective of their contractual status, persons in training, including interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, jobseekers and job applicants, in all sectors, both in the formal and informal economy, and whether in urban or rural areas.

 As a human resources practitioner and  social activist  I have  came across cases where foreign workers were intimidated or manhandled in places like barber shops where workers from India are recruited. I have also been told that a well-known company in Ipoh tried to force a depressed woman to resign by transferring her to work in a store that was hot and sweltering because it did not have an air conditioner. 

In the hotel industry I have seen senior chefs verbally abuse the interns to the point the interns have to seek to complete their internship elsewhere. Employers, especially those in the small-medium size industry seems to take harassment of this nature lightly as there are no laws to check abuse that are non-sexual in nature.

Therefore it is time the government creates a new chapter in the Employment Act on eliminating harassment and violence at work, which would help the most vulnerable workers such as interns, foreign workers and those who stand up for what is right, and would compel employers to set clear policies against these offences. – July 13, 2019.

*Ronald Benjamin is secretary at Association for Community and Dialogue.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Permanent innovation, reskilling process needed

The industry is often a victim of clich├ęs. The industry is drastically evolving. The manufacturing process is affected by technological, environmental and societal changes.

Whether it is a bottle manufacturing unit, cookware or rubber products used automotive; the industry is affected due to rapid change in the innovation and its technology adoption by similar industries with the country or outside. Industries are responding to the desires and needs of users who are looking for high quality, low cost, lighter, less polluting, recyclable and design products. All this innovations has an impact on production methods, workers and the business.

Factory of the future - Permanent innovation:

Change is constant. Factories need to adopt these changes and the 'permanent innovation' is happening in the Industry. Industry leaders are now talking about the factory of the future, of industry 4.0, a connected working environment.

To revive some industries and stay competitive, we had to evolve towards the technologies of tomorrow & fulfill the desires of the consumers/users. Our industry needs to invest in the factory of the future, its new processes and should find innovative solutions in all areas.

Permanent innovation and Skill Gaps:  At the heart of this permanent innovation and its adoption, the skill gap continues to evolve. Unfortunately, some industry suffers from a lack of support and companies are struggling to recruit.

How it affects:

The Industrial Revolution 4.0 will not immediately affect the issue of the employment of workers. However, it will require the sectors involved to be more creative and to train more skilled workers to meet the demands of new technological applications.

New emerging technologies such as AI enabled machines, IOT enabled production systems and monitoring,  iCloud, 3D printing, automation and smart devices in particular, applied in industries in general and in the mechanical industry in particular, will bring a new lease of life not only to production but also to human resources training activities.

We believe some areas are only for humans interface and these works cannot be operated without human presence. In a decade, innovation will repeat, and change will come. So workers must, therefore, adapt themselves to the requirements of the 4.0 technologies and be aware of the permanent innovation happening in our industries.

A renewal in the training of the workforce in general re-skilling or up-skill and cross-skill and the professional education in the mechanical industry is thus is very much necessary, and this will pay off the workers and industry.

Reducing Inequality in the Education System

inequality in education

One factor that contributes to education inequality in Malaysia comes from the socio-economic gap of students, whether they come from rural or urban settings. Often, disadvantaged students lag because of their parents’ inability to offer them the extra tuition or to pay for them to continue with their tertiary education.

The reason why many students need extra tuition is that the system of education is exam and result-oriented and is based on memorization rather than on an analysis-based system which would encourage critical thinking and leadership.

Some students often enrol to do courses at public tertiary institutions that they are not interested in, leading to high drop-out rates for this particular group. 

In general, the education system in Malaysia tends to class students according to their grades. This marginalization of students with lower academic credentials could be the major contributor to the inequality in the education system.

A good education system should be able to identify the talents of these students and to ensure that these are cultivated for them to become constructive and skilled members of society, instead of them being neglected until they abandon the education system altogether, usually in secondary school.

Education inequality is directly linked to poorer economic growth, and even though Malaysia has made great steps in addressing these issues, there is still much that can be done to remedy the inequality.

Students from poorer backgrounds need to be supported financially and need to be made aware that there are scholarships and grants available to them. The education system also needs to move away from memorisation and to concentrate on giving students the critical skills needed by employers today.

Local Content Creators and how they can be successful

local content creation

Content creators in Malaysia have gone from strength to strength over the past few years. These include writers, filmmakers on YouTube, animation artists, and game developers. Malaysian content creators are still mostly independent teams of a few people, but they are supported by the Malaysian
Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) with government funding and support creative talent.

The creation of successful content needs the creators to concentrate on their target audience, genre, and medium.

Besides the creation of the content, being able to transform it into various ways of making money is also important. An example of this would be taking a feature film and turning it into a game and a TV animation film for children.

Since content creation is intellectual property (IP), its creators should be aware that they need to license it, therefore, making money from their idea.

Branded content is also an important way that content creators make money, and even game developers are monetizing from it.

The success of content creators on digital platforms is because of the instant interaction and feedback that they offer. Audiences indicate their preferences and the creators can make adjustments to their content depending on the demands of that audience. This could mean dubbing in another language or changing the English to adapt it to the audience where the content is popular, e.g. America.

Considering that many content creators have no access to sophisticated equipment and are using their mobile phones or laptops to create quality stories, it’s no wonder that many television studios are starting to worry about how they will be able to match these talents.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June 30, MEDIA STATEMENT by M. Kula Segaran, Minister of Human Resources Malaysia

30th June 2019

Economic and Talent Development through the ASEAN Region

The free flow of #skilledprofessionals within the ASEAN member states offers a wide talent pool for companies and the potential for significant job growth.

Even though migrant labor in low-and medium-skilled jobs is nothing new in the region, the free movement of skilled labor was developed to help drive permanent growth in the region as skilled workers can help address shortages within some Asian countries.

Mutual Recognition Agreements allow for the recognition of skills, experience, and accreditations across ASEAN for engineering, nursing, architecture, medicine, dentistry, tourism, surveying and, accountancy.

These occupations have certain limitations and standards which must be adhered to. These may include that they are licensed by the regulatory body of their country and have some experience. Depending on the occupation the applicant may have to be reviewed by a committee, as in the case for engineers, or may be automatically recognized, for those working in the tourism industry. 

Unfortunately, the limitations, which include the small number of occupations in the agreement and the difficulties of different visa standards across the region, allow only a small amount of professionals to be transferred. Many countries within the region also insist that these professionals are either then replaced by local employees in time, or that the position cannot be filled by local employees. Multinationals can bypass these regulations by employing in one country and then relocating them where their talents are needed. 

South East Asia needs to encourage labor mobility in order to alleviate the shortage in some countries of the region while providing work for unemployed professionals from others. In order to do that, the richer countries in the region need to put aside their fears of being swarmed by migrants, while the poorer countries their concerns of losing their skilled professionals to a brain drain.