SINGAPORE, April 30 ― Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran has urged workers in Malaysia to attend skills training courses, saying having the right skills could earn them 20 per cent higher pay.

He noted that any Malaysian who can read and write is eligible to attend a skills training course at any Technical Vocational Educational Training (TVET) institute.

“Most of these TVET institutes teach basic skills. You don’t really need an academic qualification,” he said during a get-together session with the Malaysian diaspora here.

The minister is here to lead the Malaysian delegation to the Special Session of the ASEAN Labour Ministers and Singapore Conference on the Future of Work.

“We are trying to focus 70 per cent on training and 30 per cent course work,” he said, noting that only 28 per cent of the total workforce in Malaysia is skilled whereas in countries such as Singapore the percentage may be as high as 50 per cent.

“That doesn’t speak well at all. No country can be developed, no country can prosper unless a substantial part of the workforce is skilled. These are great challenges that we have, and we hope over time we can do it,” he said.

Under the 11th Malaysia Plan which ends next year, the target is to get 35 per cent of the workforce skilled.

“This is one of the challenges that I have. I hope I can achieve good reasonable figures. We might not reach the magical figure of 35 per cent but we will get there somewhere.

“Now I’m trying to fast-track the whole issue and give priority to it,” he said.

The minister said one of his ministry’s challenges is the reluctance of some employers to send their workers for training to beef up their skill sets, either for fear they will lose their workers or because they are not prepared to give them unrecorded leave.

The workers, on their part, don’t realise why they should go for skilling, he noted.

“Now we are going to give special incentives to those who want to be skilled. So we hope we can do that to transform the whole process,” he added. ― Bernama