Suc­cess is not de­fin­i­tive, nei­ther is fail­ure

New Straits Times - - Business / Logistics - The writer is chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Malaysia Au­to­mo­tive In­sti­tute.

ONE of the roles of the Malaysia Au­to­mo­tive In­sti­tute is the de­vel­op­ment of hu­man cap­i­tal for the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. As tal­ent is an un­mis­tak­able as­set to the econ­omy, we have de­vel­oped sev­eral pro­grammes aimed at the dif­fer­ent lev­els and skill sets — school leavers, un­der­grad­u­ates, fresh grad­u­ates and those work­ing.

Since our pro­grammes be­gan in 2012, we have trained thou­sands of youths and ex­ec­u­tives who are now serv­ing within the in­dus­try, cre­at­ing new em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and en­hanc­ing ex­ist­ing ca­reers.

I have had the op­por­tu­nity to per­son­ally in­ter­act with many par­tic­i­pants of our pro­grammes. Over­all, we have tremen­dous po­ten­tial among our youth, sig­ni­fy­ing the qual­ity of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

How­ever, there is one par­tic­u­lar as­pect that re­quires rein­ven­tion — it is how, as a so­ci­ety, we per­ceive qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

The old say­ing goes, “Suc­cess is a jour­ney, not a des­ti­na­tion”. This sim­ply means that suc­cess has no end point, it is what we do in life that de­fines suc­cess. For many, suc­cess is mea­sured by the gains of their life­time of work — the cash bal­ance, house and car, and the pro­vi­sions ren­dered to the fam­ily.

Although hap­pi­ness, spir­i­tual be­ing and oth­ers are per­fectly valid yard­sticks, ma­te­ri­al­is­tic gain is a per­fect mea­sure­ment too, as it is tan­gi­ble and most im­por­tantly, re­al­is­tic.

Aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tion, on the other hand, is a tricky mea­sure­ment to dis­cuss. Ev­ery par­ent hopes that their chil­dren ex­cel in their stud­ies and achieve the high­est merit pos­si­ble. We are told in school that the univer­sity is the gar­den of op­por­tu­nity and the start of a mean­ing­ful life. Yet, it is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain that the re­al­i­ties of life pro­vide many routes to suc­cess, and these routes need not be “aca­demic” in na­ture.

This so­ci­etal per­cep­tion is ad­dressed in this se­ries.

Var­i­ous re­ports in high-in­come na­tions show that the earn­ings gap be­tween blue and white col­lar jobs is nar­row­ing. This is due partly that in or­der for so­ci­ety to progress, not only must wealth dis­tri­bu­tion be fairer, but the emer­gence of the need for a skilled and “hands-on” work­force.

De­spite im­prove­ments in pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency dur­ing the last three in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tions, “un­skilled” labour was very much in high de­mand, de­spite an in­crease in the mech­a­ni­sa­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses.

As we strive to­wards In­dus­try 4.0, un­skilled labour will soon be re­placed with a high level au­to­ma­tion, ren­der­ing them ob­so­lete in fu­ture op­er­a­tions. How­ever, the fu­ture worker needs to be trained in a spe­cific and highly spe­cialised skill set not in aca­demic class­room the­ory, but in skills train­ing in­sti­tu­tions that recog­nise them for spe­cialised job com­pe­tency.

As I spoke to some of the par­tic­i­pants of our pro­grammes, in par­tic­u­lar pro­grammes for school leavers, I un­earthed an un­for­tu­nate truth — those who do not pos­sess aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions were la­belled as fail­ures by many. They are doomed for low earn­ings, blue col­lar jobs with dead-end ca­reers.

More dam­ag­ing is that many of these peo­ple are show­ing signs that they be­lieve it them­selves. When asked about their qual­i­fi­ca­tions, the com­mon an­swer seems to be: “All I have is a skill cer­tifi­cate”. Is now time to change this, and re­align their be­liefs to­wards a suc­cess­ful ca­reer path.

As a pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety, it is im­por­tant that we work to­gether to re­brand and rein­vent this no­tion. We will dis­cuss this rein­ven­tion in our next ar­ti­cle.

“Suc­cess isn’t just about your life ac­com­plish­ments. It also about what you in­spire oth­ers to do.”

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