There was an interesting letter in one of the newspapers recently asking for the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) deductions to be stopped.
The writer was unhappy that in 2016, HRDF unilaterally decided that 30% of all employer contributions would be placed in a central fund. This resulted in the vast majority of employers having inadequate money in the HRDF to fund their own training programmes, he said.
While the writer has rightly raised pertinent points of unilateralism and abuse of funds, he seems to address the issue in a narrow sense where employers are regarded as the sole owner of the funds, when in reality workers’ contributions at work have also played a major part in helping an organisation attain its desired profits.
Training and development should not be seen as the sole prerogative of employers but a shared responsibility to ensure that all Malaysians have the opportunity to be trained in their chosen professions so that the nation can increase the number of skilled workers.
Being in the manufacturing sector for 30 years I have observed how the training programmes funded by HRDF have catered mostly to supervisory and middle management staff while lower-level workers are deprived of training, with the reasoning that productivity is lost for the day if a machine operator is sent for training. It is these workers and those retrenched who require the 30% the writer was talking about.
Now, there are allegations that the HRDF had used the money to sponsor junket tours and pay fat salaries and remunerations to directors and management staff.
It is laudable that new Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran has decided to set up a body to investigate abuses in the management of HRDF funds, It is hoped that a more transparent system could emerge on how these funds are utilised to the benefit of both employer and employee. There is also a need for the human resources ministry to rein in the mushrooming of training providers whose quality is suspect. There is a tendency among these training providers to use these funds to enrich themselves, which goes against the true objective of the HRDF fund.
Therefore, it is vital not to burn the entire house just because there are white ants in a certain portion of the roof. There is no need to stop deductions just because there are people who abuse their authority.
If there is an element of corruption the law should take its course. There is a need to view the HRDF funds as a means for shared prosperity between employers and employees and serve the common good of the nation in the long run.
Ronald Benjamin is a FMT reader
The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.