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Monday, 4 July 2011

Get industry help, varsities told

UK research director: Experts can advise academics on needs of private sector


MALAYSIAN universities should consider engaging professionals who have served in multinational corporations (MNCs) to enhance collaboration between universities and the private sector to produce skilled human resources.

Dr Shi Yongjiang (pic), who is a research director of the Centre for International Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, said retired and semi-retired professionals could identify the fields of collaboration relevant to the needs of industry.

He said the university had all the while engaged those who had served in well-known MNCs to serve as tutors and consultants for its industrial systems, manufacturing and management programme (ISMM).

“With their experience, they can serve as tutors to instruct and to give input on how to improve the curriculum to better serve the needs of the industry.

“As consultants, they can advise on how to improve the communication between the academic and private sectors,” he said.

He was speaking after visiting Qdos Holdings Bhd, a flexi-circuit production company in Bayan Lepas, Penang.

Shi is visiting Malaysia and Singapore from June 26 to July 10 with 10 postgraduate students to compare the industrial systems of the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore.

“Under the ISMM programme, students are sent to work in manufacturing plants to apply what they have learnt in theory.

“This is to test how effective the theory is,” he said.

On Malaysia’s competitive edge, Shi said the country had very advanced skills in management systems and inventory planning compared to countries such as India, China, and Indonesia.

On the shortage of engineers in Penang, Shi said the problem was not unique as the UK and Germany also faced the same problem.

“One way to overcome the problem is to open the doors to international talents.

“The other solution is to revamp the engineering curriculum in universities and the science curriculum in high schools to make the subjects interesting. This is being done in the UK,” he said.

Shi said one of the reasons for the shortage of engineers in the UK was the very attractive salaries in the banking sector.

Engineering graduates are lured to jobs in the banking sector because of the pay. Banks are also in favour of hiring engineering graduates as they have the analytical ability to solve complex problems,” he said.
Shi added that local companies should invest more on research and development activities to move up the value chain.