When the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) or Kumpulan Wang Pembangunan Sumber Manusia (KWPSM) was implemented in 1993, it came as a result of the growing importance of investing in people as well as the increasing awareness of human capital development.

Governed by the Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad Act 2001 (PSMB Act 2001), HRDF was given the mandate by the Malaysian Government to catalyse the development of competent local workforce that will contribute to Malaysia’s vision of becoming a high-income economy.

Suffice to say, since its inception, HRDF has evolved from managing a sizeable fund to becoming a one-stop-centre which, in addition to providing human capital development solutions to its registered employers and also to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, also encourages employers covered under the PSMB Act 2001 to retrain and upgrade the skills of their local employees, apprentices and trainees in keeping with the fast-evolving global business landscape while at the same time meeting the aspirations of their respective companies.

Upskilling Employees to Meet Market Demands

In line with its main objective to get its registered employers to fully utilise its funds, HRDF is home to a plethora of schemes that make it easy for employers to submit a claim for the trainings that their employees attend, all of which are diverse to accommodate different employers’ needs.

The SBL and SBL-Khas, for example, are HRDF’s biggest schemes, which allow employers to identify their own training needs and implement their own training programmes with the aim to retrain and upgrade their employees’ skills in line with their operational and business requirements.

The Purchase of Training Equipment scheme, on the other hand, enables employers to obtain financial assistance to purchase basic training equipment and set up training rooms, while the Future Workers Training Scheme (FWT) enables employers to obtain the financial assistance in terms of skills training and increasing the knowledge of their future workers under the pre-employment training programme.

Made accessible to both large and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), these schemes span across the employers’ demands on the necessity to upskill local employees in various geographical areas, upskill future employees with specific skill sets, upgrade local employees to replace foreign workers and to reskill latent housewives and senior citizens to get them back or into the workforce.

Taking into consideration the input received from multiple engagements with SMEs as well as the GDP contribution rate of SMEs to Malaysia which stands at 37.1% in 2017, HRDF also emphasises its focus to elevate the skills and knowledge of SME owners through collaborative programmes with selected local colleges and universities.

As such, programmes offered by the colleges and universities from the government or private sector and also programmes offered by technical and vocational training institutions especially those with the Malaysian Skills Certificate accreditation from the Department of Skills Development (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) under the Ministry of Human Resources are eligible to obtain financial assistance from the HRDF.

However, these initiatives are not without their own challenges and setbacks. “One of the challenges when it comes to implementing these initiatives is the mind-set of employers and employees themselves, who may not see upskilling and reskilling as an investment but an expense,” a HRDF spokesperson tells Smart Investor.

“We want people to start thinking about their own development goals – every employer must have a sense of entitlement towards their own self-development. For that, we have established a full-fledged employer engagement team to sit down with our registered employers to understand their challenges and concerns – this feedback will be crucial for the development of new training programmes.”

Training Grants for Retraining and Upskilling

Keeping with HRDF’s main focus to ensure that employers utilise their HRD levy through retraining and upskilling, one of the means for HRDF-registered employers to do so is through the application of training grants.

“The training schemes offered to HRDF-registered employers are the essential constituent to the training grant,” says HRDF.

“The schemes cover the upgrading of current employees, training for future employees, as well as the set-up of employers’ internal training facilities. These training grants can only be applied by and for local employees hired by HRDF-registered employers within the sectors covered under the PSMB Act.”

IR4.0 – Buck Up or Lose Out

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, whether we like it or not, is fast approaching, and the only way forward, according to HRDF, is to buck up, or lose out.

“It’s important for people to understand that while IR 4.0 isn’t necessarily impossible to adapt to, it can threaten your job security if you do not take the necessary steps to keep up,” the HRDF spokesperson advises.

“Most importantly, people should understand that there are available resources for those who are interested. Employees, you should educate yourselves by finding out if your employer/company is registered with HRDF. If they are, speak to your employer or your Human Resources Development Department about the options available for you based on the available funds.

“We’d recommend researching the training options available in the market so your employer knows you are serious about upskilling yourself. There is also ample information available on the HRDF website on the various training grants available which your employer can tap into.”

For more information about HRDF, the types of training provided, and the grants that are available, get in touch with the HRDF Call Centre at 1800-88-4800 or visit www.hrdf.com.my.