Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud observed that the world is gradually facing a shortage of skilled workers at the middle-run level and change in the pattern of pay was visible.
For instance, he said it was easier for a diploma holder to seek employment in Canada and the sub-professional group might receive higher salaries than the professionals.
He thus advised youths in the state not to set their aim too high, given that they must understand the world was changing to demands for sub-professional people.
“You should not be surprised because what contributes most to the productivity of an industry is the key factor that will determine the kind of pay structure that will eventually emerge in our society.” he stressed.
“That is, why not just aim for degree or any other higher qualifications. Sometimes you will find that a technical assistant gets more pay because of the demand,” he said when opening the Sarawak Foundary and Engineering Industries Association’s (SWKFEIA) Building and Automotive and Welding Institute of Sarawak (AWISAR) at Demak Laut Industrial Estate Phase II off Jalan Bako, near here yesterday.
Taib felt that youngsters who wanted to pursue a five-year course for degree in engineering should think twice.
“I am not saying engineering course is no good but not everybody needs this. If you are not good enough for Bachelors Degree inEngineering, don’t feel disappointed that you have to settle for Diploma in Engineering.” reiterated Taib
“In fact, probably if you have good luck, you will find out that you will be better paid later on. We have to understand the changing patterns of the world. In the case of Sarawak, this is going to be the pattern of development,” he said.
He foresaw stiff competition of skills in the middle-run level, in all Asean countries as he pointed out that Australia could afford to pay a much higher salary scale.
Sarawakians should thus brace themselves to change their mentality, he warned.
Taib said AWISAR was timely as the education policy had changed in tandem with the market demand, which apparently meant to see more institutions offer technical training for the local workforce.
As more development sets in, such as Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energey (SCORE), he said more jobs would be created and if the local workforce could not meet the demand, the state would have to rely on imported labour.
“Of course we cannot do this all the time, so we need to enhance skills training programme.” stressed Taib.
He said the state government would have to choose between slowing down the development until sufficient well-trained local workforce was there, or go ahead with any plan by recruiting foreign labour.
“So we will have to get foreign labour to meet the job demands as the market is created much more vigorously. We all must realise that the training will become much more critical,” he added.
At the function, Taib pledged a launching grant of RM100,000 in aid of SWKFEIA.