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Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar (right) and Datuk Wan Suraya Wan Mohd Radzi (second from right) meeting the PROTEGE trainees at the closing ceremony of Duopharma Biotech PROTEGE programme in Putrajaya recently. NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

The Professional Training and Education for Growing Entrepreneurs programme (PROTEGE) under the Entrepreneurial Development

Ministry is focusing on marketability training to create a competitive market and skilled job seekers.

PROTEGE is are branding of Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M) to give youths the opportunity to gain working and entrepreneurship

experience. The programme, which involves collaborations with industry experts, is open to students right up to postgraduates.

Participants will intern in private or government-linked companies for eight to 12 months.

Additionally, PROTEGE is introducing a new programme to turn participants into entrepreneurs.

Duopharma Biotech Bhd (Duopharma) is among the participating companies thatis committed to provide on-the-job training for graduates.

Last year, the pharmaceutical company trained 64 participants, of which 14 were offered employment while seven more are waiting approval.

Twelve others had accepted employment offers from other companies.

PROTEGE graduate Syarifah Syahirah Abdul Rahim, 26, from Kuala Lumpur, shared her experience during the one-year career training programme.

“I was assigned to handle confidential documents and company data files. Even though I had to do office work, which was very different from my previous experience of being more hands-on, I took it as a challenge.

“I was also lucky to be given the opportunity to be active in the company’s internal activities, such as promoting its sports club activities.

“I was able to build up my soft skills, which include communication skills, especially in English.

“Besides, I enjoyed working closely with other staff from different departments,” she said at the PROTEGE-Duopharma graduation ceremony in Putrajaya recently.

Syahirah, who has a degree in chemical technology engineering from Universiti Kuala Lumpur, also took the opportunity

to thank her head of department, who had trusted and shown confidence in her abilities.

Sheadded that the lessons learned throughout her training were very meaningful and useful for her career.

“PROTEGE has provided a great platform for degree holders to obtain in-depth practical knowledge, as well as the opportunity to experience working with leading companies like Duopharma,” said Syahirah. She has been absorbed as the senior supervisor of the company’s group risk management department.

Present at the event were the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Wan Suraya Wan Mohd Radzi, Duopharma group managing director Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar and PROTEGE secretariat head Norashikin Ismail.

“As our strategic partner, I commend Duopharma for their exemplary commitment in providing opportunities to graduates to undergo intensive on-the -job training.

“PROTEGE is not just open to graduates, but also those from the low-income group and rural areas, including aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Wan Suraya

She said PROTEGE was collaborating with 13 public universities as strategic partners, along with agencies under the ministry.

“Training programmes by participating agencies will be promoted to the public, especially graduates, through the PROTEGE Reach Out and Awareness programme.

“Those who wish to know more about PROTEGE can visit the career fairs at selected public universities until May.

“PROTEGE will also be organising large-scale entrepreneurship programmes at public universities in September,” she added.

Leonard Ariff said it was the company’s responsibility to ensure that young talents are ready to join the country’s workforce.

“We always strive to expose our trainees to real job situations, which ultimately add value to their careers.

“For example, we place them in critical business sections, such as manufacturing, research and development, sales and marketing, and management under our supervision.

“We aim to increase the PROTEGE trainees with special background in the field of pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnology,

production planning, as well as sales and marketing.”

He said Duopharma would invest RM2 million a year for site selection and training of PROTEGE trainees.

PROTEGE welcomes collaborations with small- and medium-scale enterprises (SME), start-ups and multinational companies in grooming talents for the

country’s professional growth.

By promoting entrepreneurship development, it will reduce unemployment in society, especially among youths.

Wan Suraya said PROTEGE provides companies with the opportunity to fill vacancies and meet their workforce needs.

“Perhaps the number of participating SMEs is not as much as GLcs, but it is important that all parties work together to develop the local industry.”

Up to March, 2,300 trainees were involved in PROTEGE but the participating GLcs were expecting 9,000 participants.

She also said PROTEGE is now extended to school leavers and diploma holders to enhance their skills, experience and knowledge.

“It is hoped that with this programme, hightech companies will not have to employ foreign workers because the number of PROTEGE

participants is enough to accommodate existing needs,” she said.

Among the universities involved are Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara Shah Alam campus, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak,

Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

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