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Sabah’s brain drain ‘serious’

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

July 11, 2019

KOTA KINABALU:Sabah’s brain drain is serious, including in the oil and gas (O&G) industry, an oil and gas conference cum exhibition here heard Wednesday. 

Talented and skilled Sabahans leaving for greener pastures, like to Johor’s Pengarang in the peninsula and foreign countries such as Singapore, is affecting the O&G industry.

This is compounded by the lack of trained skilled and qualified workers needed by the growth of industries, including the O&G.

“There is a need to retain the talents. Sabahans who have the skills are not working in Sabah. It’s not easy to find a Sabahan who wants to work in the State. It’s hard to resource talented Sabahans, we can’t keep the good ones who are going overseas.”

Prithipal Singh, General Manager of Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Ltd, revealed this on the first day of the 7th Sabah Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition (Sogce) 2019.

He said inspired people are the important asset of the future. 

“How to motivate employees is crucial for business success, by ensuring people are skilled and work in a safe and meaningful environment.

“Human capital development is an essential component of any successful industry with no exception to the oil and gas industry,” said Organising Chairperson Dolly Jimayol. 

The weakness of the ringgit in remuneration packages for skilled workers, who would rather be enjoying stronger pay in other stronger forex currencies, is mentioned as one of the reasons.

There is a need for the Federal Government to do something positive about the strength of the ringgit as many companies cannot match the salary scale advantage available overseas.

Tan Sri Ahmad Zaidee Laidin, President of the Malaysia Board of Technologists, said the “carrots have to be tasty.” 

They were in a panel discussion on Human Capital Development with panellists Dr Mohamed Ackiel Mohamed, Vice President, Special Projects Serba Dinamik Group Berhad and Suresh Sinnappu, Country Leader Malaysia, Baker Hughes GE.

“To find skilled Sabahan oil and gas workers is difficult,” said Mohd Tarmizi Munir, Chief Executive Officer of Kebabangan Petroleum Operating Company Sdn Bhd.

On enhancing local capabilities, he suggested three ways: 

l Building the talent pipeline by attracting more Sabahans into oil and gas programmes; 

l Up-skill local talents in specific oil and gas areas for talent development; and 

l Customise oil and gas training in Sabah’s oil and gas training facilities.

Meanwhile, Petronas highlighted its contribution to education and human capital development in Sabah up to end 2018, with nearly 80 per cent Sabahan staff working in Sabah and the State benefiting from and continues to benefit from RM25 billion invested since 2014.

Since 2003, some 455 received its Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP).

Some 391 Sabahans graduated from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) since 2003.

Petronas has 174 trainees in the Kimanis Petroleum Training Centre (KTC) since 2011.

Petronas has trained 110 trainees since 2003 from the Akademi Laut Malaysia (Alam), besides many others like Petronas Vista or Vocational  Institution Sponsorship and Training Assistance with 2,801 trainees since 2007, 150 trainees on the Graduate Employability Enhancement Scheme (GEES) since 2011.

There were 877 students who benefited from the Program Sentuhan Ilmu Petronas (PSIP) since 2003 and 935 Sabahan trainees have benefited from Institut Teknologi Petroleum Petronas (Instep) since 2007.

Sogce is organised by Midas Events Management (MEM) in collaboration with Institute of Materials Malaysia (IMM) and supported by Malaysia Oil and Gas Services Council (MOGSC), Malaysia Investment and Development Authority (Mida).

“Shaping the future of the O&G industry in Sabah” is the theme which focuses on what Sabah needs in this industry in the next 15 years and they are business opportunities and growth, human capital development, increasing Sabah’s participation in oilfield services-related industries and sustainable development.



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