‘Rail industry needs more talents’

KUALA LUMPUR: The country needs more homegrown talent to support the rapid development of the railway sector following government approval for seven projects that will add another 1,030km of tracks to the network, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The rapid growth of rail transport required a high number of experts, consisting of nearly 100,000 professionals, skilled and semi-skilled talents, he said.

“This is the cumulative estimate by rail operators as well as contractors involved in rail projects, consisting of planning, construction, up to the operations and maintenance phases, ” he said in his speech at the launch of Rail Industry Development Programme (RIDP) under the Strategic Industries and High Performance SME Improvement Programme (Prestige) here yesterday.

The event was attended by Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Dr Wee admitted that most local companies were still lacking in technical skills and funding in order to be involved in the rail sector, as it required high levels of investment and technological capabilities.

“Supply and maintenance contracts are dominated by companies from China, Siemens from Germany, Hitachi from Japan, and Bombardier from Canada, ” he said.

“Realising the importance of rail development, the Transport Ministry has partnered with the Technology Depository Agency to conduct vendor development programmes for industry players.

“In an effort to develop this rail industry holistically, the Transport Ministry had established the National Railway Centre of Excellence (NRCOE), which serves as an integrated rail industry development centre.

“In this regard, the NRCOE will focus on developing the capacity and capability of local rail industry players under RIDP.

“Under RIDP, local industry players will be identified according to their respective expertise and technology transfer opportunities from original equipment manufacturers and will be matched with anchor companies to ensure local companies have the opportunity to increase capacity and capability so that they will stay viable and competitive, ” added Dr Wee.

He said the government would continue to provide support and guidance to local industry players that wished to strive to increase their expertise and capacity.

“Under Prestige and RIDP, companies will be told how to increase their capacity and marketability, and increase the percentage of local content to at least 45% for some of the components, by 2030.

“I was told that eight companies have been selected for this programme, namely EMIR Cool Asia Sdn Bhd, RSC Sdn Bhd, ATIQS Sdn Bhd, KTK-DOM Sdn Bhd, Malnaga Sdn Bhd, Majestic Engineering Sdn Bhd, Innoglass Sdn Bhd and Interfleet Rail Engineering Sdn Bhd.

“Selected companies will undergo an international accreditation programme, which is the International Railway Industry Standard, so that they are eligible to participate in local rail projects and compete internationally.

“This is the first-ever certification programme held for the rail industry in Malaysia, ” said Dr Wee, who added that further boost came from the matching grant provided by SME Corp, an agency under the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, to help these companies upgrade their capacity so that they could produce higher quality rail products.

“Companies will also undergo the Professional Training Programme (Safety Rail & Sustainable Rail) and be assisted in a more structured and targeted industrial capacity building programme, ” he added.