Humanistic Skills Training and Job Opportunities in Small and Medium Industries for National Dual Training System Trainees

Scholarly Technical Education Publication Series (STEPS) Vol. 1


Humanistic Skills Training and Job Opportunities in Small and Medium Industries for National Dual Training System Trainees


Author:

    Dr. Mohamad Hisyam Mohd Hashim
    Deputy Dean (Student Affairs and Alumni) and Associate Professor
    Faculty of Technical and Vocational Education
    Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
    [email protected]

    Dr. Wan Mohd. Rasyid Wan Ahmad
    Deputy Dean (Research and Development) and Professor
    Faculty of Technical and Vocational Education
    Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
    [email protected]

Abstract

The National Dual Training System (NDTS) is a dual training apprenticeship system which involves skills training in a company and a training center. The NDTS was introduced to produce workers based on industry demand, thus reducing the problem of mismatch. NDTS uses self-reliant learning and action-oriented approach to develop apprentices with knowledgeworker occupational competences comprising of technical competences, social and human competences, and learning and methodological competences. Malaysia has been implementing the NDTS since 2005, but the types of skills provided by industries especially in manufacturing sectors were not identified. Therefore, this research was conducted in order to identify the most important elements of humanistic skills training and job opportunities which have been provided by Small and Medium Industries (SMI) for NDTS trainees which will consequently produce knowledge-workers (k-workers).

A quantitative research methodology had been used for this study in collecting and analyzing the data. The data was collected through a set of questionnaire and all of the 50 trainees comprising the first batch were taken as respondents. The reliability of the questionnaire had been tested using an Alpha Cronbach set to 0.904 values. The humanistic skills identified by the students were personal leadership, personality development, social integration, work management, and self-discipline. The personality development and work management revealed the highest mean (4.34) while the social integration showed the lowest mean of 3.74. The highest mean accounts for the reason that SMI’s workers give priority to knowledge in work management and personality development as well but giving less importance to social activities. SMI had provided four levels of job opportunities offered namely, engineers, technicians, production operators and general workers. Based on the findings, it is recommended that future research on humanistic skills be conducted such as humanistic skills for the novice technician and the type of skills for different workers in the SMI.

Keywords: National Dual Training System (NDTS), humanistic skills training, job opportunity, trainees


Introduction

In tandem with the fast global development, the country must prepare itself by making sure that the number of workers is sufficient to meet the needs of industries. It is important to have knowledgeable workers in order to enhance knowledge-based-economy as advised by the government (Ministry of Human Resource, 2006). To meet such demand, the government has planned several strategies and allocated 20.6% of development budget in the 8th Malaysia Plan (RMK8) for education and training (Ramli Rashidi, 2008a). In the 9th Malaysia Plan (RMK9), the government has given out RM 45.1 million for education and training especially for skills training which was first introduced in Malaysia in 2005 known as the National Dual Training System (NDTS). The word ‘Dual’ in the training context means participants will go through industrial training and at the same time will learn the theories at training institutions (Loose, et al. 2008a; Deisseinger, 2001 and Walter and Schmidt, 1998). The learning process that occurs through dual system approach requires the participants to be present at both institutional and industry by the turn. NDTS is a system that can provide skills training in order to produce workers with advanced skills.

In addition, the implementation of NDTS can also help in preparing skillful workers in the country, that is, knowledge-worker (k-worker). In producing a k-worker, NDTS is the most recent and comprehensive system which meets the current industrial needs. The NDTS approach can reduce the problem of producing skillful workers who do not meet the current needs of industries and can give exposure about real job situations in industries (George, 2007a; Wan Seman Wan Ahmad, 2007; Rahim M. Sail, et al. 2007a and Department of Skill Development, 2006). In addition, it can also help to overcome unemployment (Loose, 2008b and Yogessvaran, 2005a) as industries nowadays require workers who have advanced skills in handling operations especially in the SMI.

The SMI is an important industry that makes up 84% of the manufacturing sector in Malaysia and plays a crucial role towards the country’s economic development and enhancement (Mustaffa Kamal Mohd Nor, et al.2005) that leads the country to become an industrial country (Mohd Yusof et, al. 2002). Fast development in the manufacturing sector since 1980s has put SMI as the main runner in conducting various manufacturing activities (Mohd Asri Abdullah, 1995a). Therefore, with the country’s accelerating economic development, more contribution from SMI in terms of skill training preparation and employability opportunities is very much needed.

Recently, the contribution and role of the SMI are significant to a number of fields, namely, the industry organization, total number of employment and production values. Besides, the most common view about the SMI is that it opens more job opportunities to the public together with skills training provision. This is because the SMI is capable of using human resource intensively in their production technique if compared to bigger firms (Mohd Asri Abdullah, 1995b). This, directly, provides job opportunities in production function and the SMI operations. According to SMIDEC 2004 report, it was found that the SMI covers 92% of the total number of companies registered in Malaysia, that is, 689. 160 and provide one third of total employment in Malaysia.

Background of Problem

Technological change in both the global and national level has affected the country’s need for skilled workers and recent skill training system that produces a k-worker. Nevertheless, the implementation of NDTS by private companies was found to be not so encouraging among industries, especially in the SMI (Najib Razak, 2007). In addition, those incentives must be reviewed and improvized. It is clear, then, the issue of skill training in order to secure a job and meet the employer’s expectation is not an easy task. To ensure the success of such implementation requires cooperation from all parties in the country.

Skill training program provision is to establish skills by giving basic knowledge regarding the real working condition (Ferguson, 2007a). However, this program cannot be put under the government’s responsibility, it is the industry itself which can detect the changes in the demand for workforce (Shackleton, 1997). The effect of these changes have caused the training centers to be outdated in the technology development. One question remains unanswered, thus, to what extent the training provided is capable of enhancing the organization’s production performance? (Rahmah Ismail, et al. 2006a). So, there is a need to bring forward a training system that involves both the government and industries (Fong Chan Onn, 2000). To realize that intention, Malaysia must introduce a skill training system that involves industry and can produce skilled workers.

Industry nowadays not only requires workers who have skill in technical field, but also other areas including workability skill (Wan Seman Wan Ahmad, 2007 and Yahaya Buntat, 2004). This skill includes being knowledgeable, having technical, humanistic and collaborative skills (Fong Chan Onn, 2007; George, 2007b). However, mismatch between graduates’ skills and job opportunity being offered by industry is also a problematic issue in the SMI (West, 2008a; Jackson, 2008a and Kraemer, 1993a). Some industries complain that many job applicants do not possess skills that are parallel to the industry’s need. Yogeesvaran (2005b) found that 40% of graduates who qualified did not meet the industry’s expectation and need.

According to Ramli Rashidi (2008b), the industry’s need in Malaysia has changed over the years. Nowadays, its industry needs many skilled workers, with advanced and expert skills in a job area. Because of that, Malaysia must prepare a systematic training that can fulfill the industry’s need (Ramli Rashidi, 2008c; George, 2007c and Rahmah Ismail, et al. 2006b). The role of the industry must widen since only they know the real situation in terms of specific skills for a certain job (Ramli Rashidi, 2008c and Fong Chan Onn, 2007b). Moreover, training facilities and expertise at industry must be fully utilized to produce k-worker.

Findings from a research by Rahmah Ismail, et al. (2006c) show that there are several causes that lead to problems in workforce source particularly in the manufacturing sector. The most common concern is the lack of skilled workers in operating industries especially in SMI. Such phenomenon illustrates that the lack of skillful workers creates problems in the SMI development (Pukkinen, et al. 2001). Apart from that, Wan Liz Osman and Sulzari Muhamad, (2002a) claimed that the SMI’s involvement in providing skill training was disappointing, which shows that there is a problem in developing workforce resource (Ramlah Ismail,et al. 2006d). Therefore, the Malaysian government must double its effort to produce a good quality workforce and fulfill the industry’s expectation. K-worker refers to a worker who possesses a variety of skills. Due to that, the researchers of this paper carried out a research to identify types of skill training preparation at SMI to NDTS trainees based on the questions a.) what elements of humanistic skills training does the SMI provide to NDTS trainees?; and b.) what are the job opportunities provided by the SMI to NDTS trainees?

Literature Review

Industrialization is a platform of economic strength and considered as the main force for the country’s development. The process goes through certain levels which are agricultural base before the 1960s, to intensive labor and export in the 1970s. Industry needs large capitals, advanced technology and requires many skilled workforces. Industry or industrialization can be defined as a process that enhances the industry’s contribution and roles. The manufacturing sector is believed to have contributed additional necessities to the country, thus, many companies have been involved. This means industrialization in a factory or manufacturing sectors play important roles in uplifting the economy especially in SMI. The three most important skills are knowledge skill, technical and humanistic skills. However, the problematic issue for the industry is the mismatch between knowledge, technical and humanities skills that a person has with the job being offered (West, 2008b; Jackson, 2008b; Yogeesvaran, 2005c and Kraemer, 1993b). Ferguson (2007b) mentioned that the mastery of these skills could be overcome through skill training program. Nevertheless, such program is few in number especially at the SMI (Ramlah Ismail, et al. 2006e), and even if there is, the involvement of SMI is frustrating (Wan Liz Ozman and Zulhari Muhamad, 2002b). Literature review shows a gap in which there is no research conducted to study types of preparation for SMI training program to NDTS trainees in Malaysia.

The SMI plays important roles in the country’s economy. Among them is the absorption of less-skilled human resource. SMI is established as one of the strategies to support existing flow of labors. This is because many SMIs are labour intensive and as such could provide more job opportunities (Mohd Asri Abdullah, 1999 and Malaysia Planning Report (2006-2010). SMI is also the foundation for the new industry growth and encourage entrepreneurship culture. Pukkinen, et al. (2001) claimed that SMI’s role as a skills training place for workers and producers cannot be denied. The three crucial aspects that cover capital investment were formal education level and workers’ skills. SMI provide skill training to those who are less-privileged and do not have opportunities for other training (Rahmah Ismail, et al. 2006f). Indeed, by developing SMI training, it helps to intensify local entrepreneurs’ involvement in industrial field (RMK-9, 2006-2010), particularly by participating in NDTS.

The word ‘Dual’ in this training context means carrying out activity at industry and at the same time to learn theoretical part at training institution (Loose, et al. 2008). At training institution, students are not exposed to only the theoretical aspects of the job scope, but also taught general knowledge such as trade and current issues. NDTS is introduced for the purpose of preparing the country’s workforce (k-worker) through a comprehensive and updated training which fulfill the current demand of the industry. NDTS targets and encourages school leavers, together with industrial workers from company who are interested to participate in this program. NDTS involvement is mostly from the SMI or Multinational Company (MNC). In implementing this system, 500 apprentice began their training in 2005 and this number doubled every year until it reaches 16,000 by the year 2020.

Methodology

A quantitive reseach methodology had been used because of the sample and the objective of study. Gay (1996) stated that the purpose of descriptive study is to get information about the current and ongoing activities. Researchers also believed that descriptive study is the accurate design and in order to explain the skills training provided by the SMI to NDTS trainees. All the data had been gathered from respondents through a set of questionnaire which had been tested properly. Factor Analysis Test Method had been used in identifying the type of skill training provided by the SMI to NDTS trainees. Therefore, only meaningful variables were searched and selected. Researchers had shortlisted according to their creativity. Therefore, it is clear that factor analysis could be summarized and could validate the data. Researchers also had used the factor analysis because the total number of items for each skills training provided was different. Each element of skill training was different. “Principal Axis factoring” method with round “Varian with Kaiser Normalization” and Eigen values exceeding 1.0 were used. For the reasons, researchers had used the quantitative research methodology and descriptive study for collecting and analyzing our data for this research.

Findings and Discussions

Humanistic Skills Training Provided by SMI to NDTS Trainees

Humanistic skills were related as socialization skill, leadership, and selfadaptation to culture and environment. Basically, the elements of humanistic skills were self-leadership, personality development, social integration, selfdiscipline, and problem management. There is a big gap in fulfilling humanities skill (Siti, Z. Omel, et al. 2007), which means the worker has still not achieved the humanistic skill level as required by the companies. Since it is the most difficult to master, the company provides humanistic skill training for NDTS trainees. Rahim M. Sail, et al. (2007b) says that skill in a leadership can motivate, lead and support in accomplishing a task. His research is in accordance to this particular study which showed that self-leadership was important to ensure self-discipline and has positive attitude towards changes. The company encourages the trainees to work independently and to be responsible towards their action. The elements of humanistic skills are shown below

Table 1: Elements of Humanistic Skills Training

Table 1 shows the total of elements for humanistic skills training. The elements are self-leadership, personality development, social integration, work management and discipline. The element of self-leadership is the highest and discipline is the lowest of elements. Personality development is the highest level of humanistic skill training provided by company if compared to other types of skills. In this element, teamwork and learning from mistakes are much emphasized by the company. In addition, self-confidence which is based from previous successful achievement and positive self-value is also provided in the training (Yahaya, 2002 and Zainudin, et al. 2001). Trainees who have self-discipline are able to motivate, initiate and have self-confidence. The first elements of self-leadership had been analyzed and are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Elements of Self-leadership

Table 2 shows the six elements of self-leadership. The elements include selfdiscipline, positive manner toward change, acting independently, sincerity, being responsible to any action taken and cooperation. The table also shows that “sincerity” is the highest mean where the company had provided more training in sincerity compared with others elements especially the elements of “act independently”. Working in a group is important in the training in order to prepare them to work effectively. It involves generating ideas and solving problem as well as respecting the opinion of others in a group. The training had been provided for them in order to be honest at work, and improve on selfmanagement and time management. These elements will instill positive attitudes in themselves. The second element of humanistic skill training was personality development. All the elements had been analyzed and are shown below.

Table 3: Elements of Personality Development

Table 3 shows the three elements of personality development that had been provided by the company to the trainees. The elements are learning from mistake, portraying self-confidence and team work. The table also shows that the elements of “team work” got the highest in training which was provided by the company and the lowest is “self-confidence”. The third element of humanistic skill training is social integration. All the elements had been analyzed and are shownin Table 4.

Table 4 shows the three elements of social integration. The elements include “making consultation with others”, “mixing with others and a course on overcoming disciplinary problem”. The average of mean was not high (only 3.74). The table also shows that the element of “mixing with others” is the highest training provided by the company and the lowest was “disciplinary problem”. For

Table 4: Elements of Social Integration

this reason, the company should be aligning the training in some elements of the social integration skills. The third element of humanistic skill training was “work management”. All the elements had been analyzed and are shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Elements of Work Management

Table 5 shows the four elements of self-discipline. The elements include being “sincere in work”, “self-discipline”, “self-management” and “time management”. The average of mean was high where the company had provided the best training to the trainees. The table also shows that the element of “being sincere” in work is the highest (4.56) and the two lowest elements were self-management and time management. The fourth element of humanistic skill training is self-discipline. All the elements had been analyzed and are shown below.

Table 6: Elements of Self-discipline

The table shows the two elements of team work. The elements are adapting to all regulation and respecting other group member’s view. The average of mean is high where the element of respecting other group member’s view is the highest than adapting to all regulation.

The company had also integrated the elements at the intermediate level. The trainees who have problematic issues will be sent to a special course to overcome such situation. Normally, the company will solve the issue internally, unless it involves serious criminal case. This approach might be different from consultation training as the company puts that at higher level skill training. Besides that, humanistic skills was the most difficult to obtain, whereas skill which is more specific is much easier through training. In the research involving 10 companies in Europe, three types of skills have been identified through gap analysis, which are humanistic, conceptual and technical skills. It was found that the largest gap that needs to be fulfilled is humanistic skill.

Job Opportunities Provided by the SMI to NDTS Trainees

The finding shows that the company had provided four categories of job opportunities. The jobs include engineer, technician, production operator, and general worker whereby the largest percentage of opportunity was technician, followed by production operator, general worker and engineer. The technicians are classified into welding technician, industrial technician, and machining technician. The production operator covers job as tool maker, dress maker, and fiberglass boat makers. The general worker includes ironsmith, batik maker, general machinery, and marketing representative. Job opportunities for engineers were the least available which involved engineering and supervision work. All the job opportunities provided by the SMI are shown below.

Table 7: Job Opportunities Provided

Table 7 shows the list of job opportunities offered by the SMI. The job as a technician has the highest opportunity compared to another job and position, while engineer has the lowest opportunity. There is a vast opportunity in industry especially in the manufacturing sector because the training conducted matches the acquired skills. Jobs such as welder, machine and industrial technician are the most in demand in Slovenia. This is true not only Slovenia, but also in Malaysia which needs such jobs in the manufacturing sector in SMI. According to Zulkifli Mohd Sidi and Syed Johan Syed Ali (2005), there are several levels of workers required by the employer in operating their manufacturing industry. Among the priorities are operator, assistant technician, technician, supervisor and engineer. This shows that the findings agree with other researchers. All employers concluded that they need workers who are not only skillful but who also have good academic qualification.

Conclusions

The humanistic skills identified by the students were self-leadership, personality development, social integration, work management and self-discipline. The main element of self-leadership was categorized by five elements. The elements were self-discipline, positive manner toward change, to act independently, sincerity, being responsible to any action taken and on cooperation where the element of self-discipline had been provided as the most important training by SMI compared to another element of skill. The second main element was personality developments. The main elements were categorized by three. The elements were learning from mistakes, portraying self-confidence and team work where the element of learning from mistakes had been provided as a most important training by SMI compared to another element of humanistic skill. The third main element was social interaction. The element was categorized by three elements. The elements were making consultation with others, mixing with others and disciplinary problem to course to overcome. The element of making consultation with others had been provided with the highest priority of training for the trainees and the element of disciplinary problem to course to overcome was the lowest. The fourth element was work management. The elements were being sincere in work, self-discipline, self-management and time management. The elements were being sincere in work had been provided as a most important training by SMI compared to another element of skill. The last main element was selfdiscipline. The element was categorized only by two. The elements were adapting to all regulation and respecting other group member’s view where the elements were adapting to all regulation had been provided as the most important training by SMI compared to another elements of skill.

The elements of self-leadership, personality development, social interaction, work management and discipline had been provided by the SMI. All the elements were very important for the trainees. The SMI had also provided some job opportunities to those who have the skills whether as an engineer, a technician, a production operator or a general worker. Based on this knowledge, future researches about the skills and on SMI could be undertaken. The research may deal on humanistic skills of novice technician and the types of skills for different workers in SMI.

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