Our deputy prime minister (DPM) Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak recently advised (according to the New Straits Times) the graduates from University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) "Don't just stick to one firm".Hence it was kind of a surprise, when he now reminded workers to "stay loyal to the company that trained you" as reported in the Star yesterday.
He said they should not job-hop for better pay after acquiring training. “These workers should show their gratitude by giving their services to the company,” he said when opening the RM21mil Naza Kia Academy (NKA) at the Naza Automotive Complex here yesterday.Is this conflicting advise which is being given by our Deputy Prime Minister due to a "change" in mindset or a change in speech writer or simply just flip-flopping depending on who the audience was? Either way, I can only say that both pieces of advice are misplaced.
While I've argued extensively why candidates should not necessarily job hop in my earlier post, that does not mean that workers should be blindly loyal to the companies. There are many reasons why one should stay loyal to a particular company, and the provision of training is just one of them (albeit an important one). There are many other factors to be considered. These include a conducive working environment, career growth opportunities, choice of industry, lifestyle as well as financial renumeration packages.
While its probably impossible to find the "perfect" company, it is useful to identify good companies as those who are willing to share its profits and gains during the good times, and those who do their very best to protect its workers during leaner times. Workers are under no obligation to stick to a single company, especially one who fails to reward and recognise performance accordingly.
It is also interesting that our Deputy Prime Minister "warned" companies not to "pinch" workers trained by another firm. There appears to be a symtom in our government today that we should try to artificially prevent market forces from operating in our business environment. We have the Ministry of Domestic Trade giving out daily warnings against traders from increasing prices due to higher costs and now, we have Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak attempting the stifle the recruitment process for experienced hires, possibly to prevent inflationary pressures.
The honourable Deputy Prime Minister should note that companies do not pay a higher premium for new recruits without a greater potential return in terms of contribution by the new worker. Given such a situation, if the incumbent employer do not offer an overall employment package which commensurates with the potential and capabilities of the worker, then isn't it fair game for him or her to seek an opportunity which will best serve his or her interest?
Our Deputy Prime Minister also argued that a "mismatch" of skills in the workforce had "contributed to the unemploymnent of more than 60,000 local graduates". I've discussed this topic here earlier. Skills "mismatch", if at all relevant, contributes only to a small portion of the unemployment issue. A survey conducted earlier has indicated that as many as 30% of the umemployed local graduates are computer science and information technology degree holders. These skills are in obvious demand in the country - it is not a mismatch. The clearcut issue in this case is that many of the local institutions of higher learning, both public and private have failed to offer a sufficiently rigourous education to produce the necessary quality in the workforce which the industry requires.
The key to this problem is not to build more schools, encourage increased training expenditure by the local companies, coming up with more "market oriented" creative degree programmes or discouraging the practice of "pinching". The key is to drastically reform our higher education system, both public and private which is engrossed in loud proclamations of "world class delivery" when in reality, the actual output leaves just so much to be desired.