KOTA KINABALU: Skills for Prosperity Programme initiated by Sabah Skills and Technology Centre (SSTC), International Labour Organization (ILO) and UK Government is expected to assist the B40 group in Sabah to achieve higher income.
For a start, the programme is focusing on Ranau and Tuaran districts.
However, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Yakub Khan is looking forward to expand to the rural areas, especially with high unemployment rate.
“The state government is aware about the increasing unemployment rate in Sabah, and we have been continuously working with various agencies to organise programmes, bringing jobs to our youth. A career carnival was held recently and many opportunities have been grabbed and we believed it benefited thousands of youths in Sabah.
“Today, we are witnessing an understanding ceremony, an initiative to demonstrate the commitment to enhance Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and skills development systems at the state level.
“This programme will be working on maximising the potential of local people, especially TVET students and young workers in both selected districts,” he said.
A similar partnership in Kedah was launched 10 years ago.
“Looking at the potential that can be achieved from this initiative, I am hoping to see it expanding to the other districts,” added Yakub in a press conference after the launching ceremony.
Earlier, Deputy Regional Director of ILO, Panudda Boonpala in her speech said TVET and skills development is an important national agenda in Malaysia. It plays a critical role in developing a high-skilled Malaysian workforce, and provides tremendous opportunities for local Sabahans.
“We all know that Sabah has significant development potential as a state. It is rich in natural resources. It is famous for its tourist attractions. It is home to many talented people.
“But we cannot overlook a number of challenges. For instance, many have limited opportunities to access higher levels of education and training because of geographic barriers. And besides persistent economic disparities, Sabah is one of the states hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Even so, we see many great local efforts to push TVET and skills development up the state agenda. And this new partnership is one of them,” she said.
Over the next 12 months, Boonpala further explained that SSTC will take a leadership role by working closely with government agencies, TVET institutions, industry, community leaders and civil society organizations.
Together, they will build a stronger and more sustainable TVET and skills ecosystem. They will design pilot training programmes that meet industry skills demand and fit the needs of women, youth and other vulnerable groups.
“I trust that this initiative will not only be sustainable but also replicable. Results and lessons learned from this partnership will be consolidated as a tool kit and a set of policy recommendations and then shared with key stakeholders in Sabah and at the national level,” she added.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Charles Hay when delivering his speech virtually yesterday said the UK Government’s expectation is to explore and pilot innovative, effective and efficient ways of delivering skills education, in a way that secures jobs and improves livelihoods for people, particularly those from economically and socially disadvantaged groups.
“In addition, we want to learn lessons from this initiative so that we can share these with other stakeholders in Malaysia, the ASEAN region, with the UK too; and to promote future UK-Malaysia economic collaboration for both our countries’ mutual prosperity.
“As you know this partnership has been developed in a difficult context with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on the global economy.
“I am proud to say that the Skills for Prosperity programme will be supporting the most vulnerable groups in Sabah, and in Malaysia, in accessing relevant skills for the future of jobs – following the post-pandemic recovery,” he said.
Also present on Tuesday was SSTC chairman Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau.