Open for training

Not sure if it was my embarrassing debut on the golf course almost two months after picking up the game or the lure of the enticing US$416,660 (RM1.23 million) prize money at the recent Malaysian Open, but I found myself spending a lot of time lately at the driving range working vigorously on improving my golf swing.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion,” declared three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

Inspired by one of the greatest boxers of all time and undoubtedly by Italian teenager Matteo Manassero who became the latest 18-year-old millionaire with his winner’s cheque from the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, I have always been an advocator of meticulous training to improve yourself in any profession or sports activity.

Since becoming a regular at my neighbourhood’s driving range, it became apparent that I was not the only one who shared similar emphasis on skills development and training. Many of these entrepreneurs-turned-part time- golfers have been religiously spending at least an hour at the facility.

“Why don’t you spend the same amount of time on training your company’s employees each day?” I asked Sanjay who heads a 4-year-old local MSC-status company providing engineering software solutions.

The young-looking managing director pointed out that there were not enough industry-specific training programmes available out there for his team. He lamented the lack of formal knowledge transfer between the larger corporations and the SMEs in the country despite the MSC’s claim “to facilitate knowledge transfer and wealth creation amongst Malaysian businesses.”

“There needs to be more involvement by government-linked companies and larger private entities to train and impart knowledge to the smaller businesses in order to further develop the respective industries,” recommended Sanjay.

Which is why the recent move by MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd – the project delivery partner for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project – to build a construction training centre to train and raise the standards of the related workers in the country is indeed timely.

Once operational, the training centre would be training up to 4,000 construction workers annually with the aim to produce more skilled and efficient construction workers who will be at par with world standards in the construction of massive tunnels and heavy construction works.

Considering the fact that many of the sub-contractors and suppliers of the country’s infrastructure projects including the estimated RM36 billion MRT project comprise of Malaysian SMEs, the initiative by MMC-Gamuda should set the benchmark for other local industry leaders to establish similar training centres.

Following this, Tesco Stores Malaysia unveiled plans to transform 150 traditional retail shops as part of its contribution under the government’s Small Retailer Transformation Programme (Tukar) project, which aims to modernise the traditional retail shop and increase its level of competitiveness.

Tesco would be taking on the role of consultants to help give a new lease of life to traditional retail outlets in terms of preparation, accounting and other key areas of business management training. The Tukar programme, which is among the country’s 12 National Key Economic Areas, would eventually modernise 5,000 retails outlets throughout the country, create 51,540 job opportunities, and expected to contribute RM5.56 billion to the gross national income by 2020.

As the authorities are in the midst of finalising the framework and guidelines for the National Innovation Policy under the Malaysian Innovation Agency Act 2010, perhaps these administrators should consider including more measures of knowledge transfer and industrial training from larger corporations to help spearhead innovative activities amongst SMEs.

For Malaysian SMEs to be competitive in the international arena, there is an obvious need for more skills development and training to be provided to the sector’s enormous workforce. As the former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch once said, “An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Turning back to gruelling training demands of my backswing, I figure that most SMEs would prefer to sharpen their job skills rather the learn the mechanics of rotating the left knee inward, turning the left shoulder under the chin, coiling the left hip clockwise, and pushing the club away with the left hand in order to hit a motionless tiny white golf ball.

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