Petaling Jaya, 11 August 2021 – Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) has accepted 249 new trainees into its operations across the nation under its annual Professional Training and Education for Growing Entrepreneurs (PROTÉGÉ) programme. Another 251 trainees are expected to come on board in October 2021, which will bring the total number of Protégés to 500. This is a significant increase from last year’s total intake of 100 trainees and represents a bold move by SDP to step up its assistance to young and local graduates who are entering the job market during these challenging times
PROTÉGÉ is a government-led initiative run by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC) in collaboration with the private sector which aims to provide unemployed Malaysian graduates from local and international universities with the opportunity to gain work experience in reputable organisations. SDP has supported the programme for over 12 years since its introduction in 2009 as the Program Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M).
Based on the Department of Statistics Malaysia data, in May 2021, the number of unemployed Malaysians decreased by 11.9% or 98,000 to 728,100 compared to 826,100 during the corresponding period last year.
Unfortunately, 9.2% of unemployed people in May 2021 were youth aged between 15 and 30. While this is a slight improvement from last year, the persistently high numbers are an indication that more needs to be done to help graduates enter the local job market.
SDP’s Group Managing Director, Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha said, “The pandemic has shattered the lives, hopes and dreams of many, including young graduates who are trying to enter the job market at a time when opportunities are thin on the ground. During such times it is only right that we do our best to offer them a leg up where possible.”
Under the SDP’s PROTÉGÉ programme, unemployed graduates are given two-weeks of virtual classroom training coupled with a one-year job placement at SDP’s operations in nine states across the Country, including the East Malaysia region of Sabah and Sarawak where a significant number of SDP’s operations are located. In recruiting its trainees, SDP focuses on providing opportunities to qualified graduates in areas surrounding the Company’s operations throughout the Country, including those in the B40 communities. This approach not only minimises the need for cross-border migration which is currently restricted to curb the pandemic, it also aims to uplift the economy and livelihood of local communities living near SDP’s operations.
SDP’s PROTÉGÉ trainees will have the opportunity to upskill and continue their educational journey with practical lessons, while earning a fair wage to keep them going through the pandemic. Trainees are paid a monthly allowance and entitled to a range of benefits which include annual leave, medical and insurance coverage, SOCSO and Employment Insurance System (EIS) as well as subsidised meals. Upon successful completion of their training, they will receive a certificate of participation and may be offered an opportunity to be hired as a permanent employee.
The programme also offers opportunities for them to participate in some of SDP’s many corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as in the national immunisation drive at the various COVID-19 vaccination centres set up by Company around the Country.
“We want to ensure that our Protégés have a more holistic and comprehensive experience during their tenure at SDP, which will improve their employability,” said Mohamad Helmy.
From 2009 until 2020, SDP has accepted around 1,286 trainees under the SL1M and PROTÉGÉ programmes, out of which 695 or 54% had successfully secured job placements in the market. Based on SDP’s records, 523 or 41% of these trainees were eventually hired by other companies and 172 trainees or 13% were retained within SDP’s operations.
SDP’s PROTÉGÉ programme is one of the Company’s several ongoing campaigns to hire more Malaysians in its operations. ‘Kami Prihatin’, another campaign launched recently by SDP, also offers job opportunities to unemployed locals nationwide and includes benefits such as free housing and subsidised utilities.