THE Malaysian economy’s dependency on migrant workers is a ticking time-bomb, made worse by the recent pandemic when borders are shut, causing a huge manpower shortage in critical sectors.
According to National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM), migrant workers are now at 1.1 million – down 800,000 from 1.9 million in 2018, leaving a vacuum in the workforce, especially in the lower ranking positions. Yet, the youth unemployment rate stands at an all-time high.
Evidently, unless working conditions and wage levels improve for such positions to attract local talents, employers are at the mercy of labour regulations and international politics.
With this foresight, PKT Logistics Group Sdn. Bhd, a leading logistics company in Malaysia, has been shock-proofing its business against such uncertainties with its “hire locals only” policy long before the pandemic hit. From office staff, truck drivers, warehouse workers to janitors, the company is staffed by Malaysians only.
“The logistics sector is the backbone of a country’s economy. We are proud of the fact that PKT is a Malaysian company powered by Malaysians,” says Dato’ Seri Dr. Michael Tio, CEO and Managing Director.
However, driving trucks and stock taking in a warehouse is rarely thought of as a sexy career, so how does the company attract future logisticians?
Tio answer is: professionalising the industry.
Smart Trucker Programme
After taking some time to understand what current graduates want in their careers, the group rolled out the Smart Trucker Programme in 2015 and began its mission to nurture quality candidates.
“Young talents want skills training, a clear career path, job placement and also a working culture that values their expertise,” Tio explains.
To join the company’s workforce via internships, diploma or degree graduates can pick between Smart Logistician and Smart Truckers Programme. While both streams go through a 6-month training period, Smart Truckers Programme guarantees them a trucking job upon completion.
In six-month time, Smart Trucker trainees will obtain their GDL (Goods Driving License) and Class E-Full License, which is fully sponsored by the company. Then, they continue to be fully employed by PKT for 48 months and reap in more income based on the respective per trip allowance, which can add up to RM4,000-RM6,000.
Tio adds that this programme design is a combination of structure and flexibility. Hence, in the fifth year, they can consider switching to non-trucking jobs and take up executive positions in the company like finance, HR, IT.
Such executive or senior executive roles offer them an expected salary of RM3,000 to RM3,500, which is considered above average market rate.
“They are equipped with four solid years of trucking experience and depending on their aspirations, we allow them room to pursue other interests within the logistics business.”
The programme instils professionalism from the basics, such as showing up for work in tidy uniform, being held accountable for maintaining their lorries in good condition, timely review of their performance by trainers and continuous upskilling in theory and practical knowledge.
“As the logistics sector adopts more advanced technology, truck drivers’ role will evolve with it. So investing in training competent truckers not only paves the way for the company’s future growth, but also enriches Malaysia’s talent pool in becoming the next ASEAN logistics hub. ” said Tio.
The company is also the first to provide a Trucker’s Lounge in all its warehouses for its drivers to relax between trips, which helps to ensure that they are well rested for a safe drive.
“If we want employees to behave professionally at the job, we as employers too must look after their welfare and make them feel valued.”
Strategic Partnerships with Local Universities
In October 2020, in conjunction with the government’s National Economic Revival Plan (Penjana) Higher Education Ministry-Career Advancement Programme (KPT- CAP), the group had pledged to train and provide job placements for 100 public university graduates via the Smart Trucker Programme.
As of May 2021, the group overachieved its KPI and had successfully placed 175 graduates, out of which 50 are from University Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Among them is Muhamad Amirul Solehin bin Noor Kamarudin, 25, a UUM graduate with a degree in Technology Management and Logistics. After completing the 6 months training, he is now a full-time employee of PKT and works as a warehouse coordinator in the company’s newest facility- The 12 Waves in Batu Kawan, Penang.
“PKT is determined to provide job opportunities to those who are keen to serve with passion while supporting nation-building initiatives despite challenging times” said Tio.
He thinks that the collaboration between universities and industries to enhance the marketability of graduates will boost youth employment rate and ensure a steady talent pipeline for the sector.