Low fees, high costs put skills centres in danger of collapse

Apprentices learning how to set the table at a training programme in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: Training centres for a government-aided apprenticeship scheme are pleading for help as they struggle to stay afloat with a low income from fees and rising expenses.

Suspension of public activities during the Covid-19 crisis has made things worse, says the former president of an association that looks after the training centres, which are involved with the National Dual Training System.

Ani Mohd Ridzuan of the Sabah and Labuan Private SLDN Training Centre Association said certified centres will be at risk of collapsing unless they obtain approval for training fees ranging from RM125 to RM1,000 per student per month.

Trainees also receive RM300 a month from the SLDN programme which was introduced in 2005, she added.

Ani Mohd Ridzuan of the Sabah and Labuan Private SLDN Training Centre Association.

Ani said the centres have a maximum quota of 25 apprentices per year or programme and could count on revenue of only RM25,000 a year from the training allowance of RM125 for each student.

“Now it is just too much for us to bear, especially with the current Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “In Sabah itself, at least 11 centres have indicated that they will throw in the towel, possibly affecting at least 100 employees.”

The centres face rising costs in utility and rent expenses, and the requirement to hire lecturers with a minimum industry experience of five years. The salary for one lecturer alone costs RM30,000 a year, she said.

Hairdressing skills are among those taught in this apprenticeship scheme.

The Federation of JPK (Department of Skills Development) Accredited Centres Malaysia (Femac) also backed the centres’ request.

Nelson Mosinoh, Sabah zone representative of Femac.

Its Sabah zone representative, Nelson Mosinoh, said salaries and mandatory contributions such as EPF, Socso and EIS make up 35% to 50% of a company’s operational costs.

Mosinoh proposed that the apprentices’ allowance be increased to RM500 a month.

He also suggested that the government allow retrenched workers to become apprentices in the programme, and for the centres to offer a longer single-tier (level two and three) programme.

The SLDN, introduced in 2005, provides skills training at the workplace and at training institutes. Practical training at the workplace makes up 70% to 80% of the entire training period.

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