Malaysia to create 2 aerospace institutions in next decade

The move to establish these highly specialised learning institutions is part of MAIB 2030

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA will build at least two aerospace and aviation institutions in the next decade as the government seeks to fill the talent void in the fast-growing and lucrative sector.

The move to establish these highly specialised learning institutions is part of the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint (MAIB) 2030, which was unveiled four years ago. The masterplan outlines Malaysia’s vision to be the region’s leader for the aerospace industry.

The sector is also expected to create up to 32,000 high-income jobs in the next 11 years. But the government worries that the country will not have enough talents to fill these openings.

Sources told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that one of the higher-learning institutions would be housed in Selangor.

The choice is natural considering 65% out of 230 aerospace companies in Malaysia are based in the state.

“The state is going to invest in one of the polytechnics in Selangor to upgrade its aerospace-related programmes and facilities. In return, the polytechnic must be renamed after Selangor International Aviation or Aerospace Polytechnic,” the source who is close to the development told TMR recently.

“It is still at the negotiation stage between the state and the Ministry of Education (MoE), as polytechnic falls under the MoE jurisdiction,” the source who spoke under the condition of anonymity added.

The talent shortage issue has been highlighted in multiple aerospace platforms in the last few years.

Business consultant Frost & Sullivan has proposed that Selangor build a drone city in order to make aerospace courses attractive for the younger generation.

Last Tuesday, Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari said the state has targeted to increase their market share in the aerospace industry from 62% last year to 70% in December.

This, he said, is crucial for the state to invest in human capital development to accommodate the whole aerospace ecosystem.

Selangor has already allocated RM52 million in its flagship programme known as Smart Selangor Technical and Professional Skills Initiative, as part of the initiative to provide opportunities for 2,000 youths to pursue the Technical and Vocational Education and Training programme.

According to the source, the programme may not be able to meet the current demands.

“We need more institutions to produce competitive local talents in this high-value industry,” the source said.

The government has projected between 10% and 15% of growth this year from 2018 total earnings of RM14.4 billion. By 2030, the aerospace industry is expected to generate RM55.2 billion.

Currently, the industry employs some 23,000 high-skilled workers, 11,000 less than what was set in MAIB 2030’s objective.

There are three polytechnics in Selangor at present, located in Shah Alam, Banting and Sabak Bernam.

According to the MoE Polytechnic official website, the Banting branch offers three diploma courses related to the aerospace sector — aircraft maintenance, mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering (manufacturing).

In December 2012, the aircraft maintenance division was transferred from Shah Alam to Banting. The department handles aircraft maintenance course, provides aircraft engine subjects, airplane frame, components and avionics system.

Polytechnic Banting is located around 30km from Kuala Lumpur International Airport Aeropolis, in Sepang, which also houses major aircraft engineering services such as maintenance, repair and overhaul players, as well as manufacturing firms.

“These courses could produce semi-professionals who are competent in aircraft maintenance and manufacturing. With the investment, hopefully, it could generate more than enough talents for the ecosystem,” the source said.

The source added that the plan would be an additional value to Russia which has shown interest in setting up an aerospace university in the country, as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last week.

Meanwhile, the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office head Shamsul Kamar Abu Samah said the initial discussion with the Russia correspondence took place at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition last March.

“The investment is just like how the University of Nottingham or the University of Southampton were established here. We are still deliberating the potential location and will try to expedite the process.

“This development shows that Malaysia is being recognised by foreign party in aerospace,” he told TMR in a text reply.

Sapura Resources Bhd aviation business COO Burhanudin Noordin Ali said Malaysia could benefit immensely from Russia’s move in developing local capability and talent.

“The government must balance the number of graduates with the industry’s needs. There is no use churning out thousands of graduates when the industry is unable to hire them.

“The government must also introduce policies that would ease business and spur the industry. So a balance supply and demand could be met,” he added.