KUCHING: Human capital development is the most important factor that will propel small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to successfully compete with emerging economies.
Minister of Human Resources Dato Sri Richard Riot Jaem pointed out that SMEs are part of Malaysia’s economic pillars and vital contributors to gross domestic product (GDP).
“SMEs in Malaysia contributed 36 per cent of the total GDP and 18 per cent share of total exports in 2015,” he said at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) SME@Unimas Graduation ceremony yesterday.
Riot said last year 97 per cent of the businesses in Malaysia were SMEs and they created 67 per cent of the country’s employment.
“In the case of Sarawak, there are approximately 44,000 SMEs, which represents 7 per cent of the total number of SMEs in Malaysia,” he said.
Riot said under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) there are over 600 million people – the third largest region in the world.
“As such, SMEs should strive to achieve global standards as enablers for them to sustain competitiveness. It is beyond doubt that the economic integration will create challenges for Sarawak, which has rather small domestic market,” he said.
“Nevertheless, economic integration will also provide huge opportunities to the SMEs, which will have access to 625 million Asean consumers.”
Riot called on all SMEs to take the necessary actions to equip their workforce with high-level and relevant skills through initiatives such as SME@University.
The SME@University programme, a collaborative effort between SME Corp and Entrepreneur Development Centre, was designed to provide structural learning opportunities for CEOs of SMEs to help develop capable human capital.
“In year 2015, Unimas had come on board SME@University programme to increase SME participation especially from Sarawak,” he said.
“To date, there are 10 universities involved in this programme and I was made to understand that participating SMEs reported business improvement. Today, there are more than 200 SMEs entrepreneurs graduating from this programme.”
Meanwhile, 16 entrepreneurs from various industries including building and construction, pastries and food, as well as printing and publishing graduated from the three-month course yesterday.
“The programme aims to train as well as introduce change and improvements to CEOs of small and medium business organisations. At the end of the programme, it is hoped that the entrepreneurs will be able to improve the quality of their businesses so they can compete on a higher level,” said Unimas vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi.
“Be confident and believe that learning will not stop here. Continue to learn and progress in your areas of expertise. Apply the theory you have learnt and benefit from the skills you have gained to face the world of business,” he advised.
Among those present were Unimas deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation) Prof Dr Kopli Bujang, Entrepreneur Development Centre director Associate Prof Dr Mohammad Affendy Arip and Human Resource Development Bhd CEO Datuk CM Vignaesvaran Jeyandran.