Second Chance for Dinosaurs – Helping the Obsolete Worker Stay Competitive

The rapid advancement of globalisation and technology have left many small-time trades built on the ?skills? of unskilled workers, tinkermen and apprentices far, far behind.

Once upon a time, secondary school drop outs could earn a living repairing cars, air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and televisions. Often, this unskilled workforce could ?graduate? to become business operators of their own after a period of apprenticeship, offering rudimentary services for the rudimentary requirements of those times.

In today?s scenario, however, such businesses have become dinosaurs. They are outmoded and are hard pressed to survive in the face of the demand for the new breed technicians and one-stop service centres who can handle the new generation of electronic, electrical and computerised appliances and motor vehicles. In the case of motor vehicle repair alone, there are about 2000 uncertified car mechanics in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor alone.

Obviously, there is a very large group of such business operators in the country. Unable to handle the technological sophistication of today, the end looks inevitable for them unless they pick themselves up by retraining and relearning skills that are required by the times. This way, they would have that professional edge and be certified, as required by upcoming laws and regulations, and become competitive once again in the market.

Human Resources Minister, Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn says the Human Resources Ministry has a skills training loan fund of RM150 million for people to ?upgrade? themselves. Applicants who qualify could borrow RM5000 to spend on courses for retraining. The interest is a mere 3% with the repayment period being between 10 to 15 years. Dr Fong also mentioned MCA?s Lifelong Learning Campaign which just collaborated with 19 institutions of higher learning (IPTS) entitling applicants to a 30% discount on tuition fees if they signed up from now to June.

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