Me.reka pitching to build skill centres in PPRs

PPR residents are worth targeting because often, they have the skills but no avenue to develop and practise, says CEO

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

MAKERSPACE player Me.reka is working on a Poverty Alleviation Programme to build skill centres in People’s Housing Projects (PPRs) around the country to assist underprivileged people develop 21stcentury skills.

CEO and co-founder Gurpreet Singh Dhillon (picture) said he is currently pitching the idea to Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s impact-based foundation, Yayasan Hasanah.

“We have been working on this for some time; to have skills centres in every PPR so we can teach the residents, especially students, about critical 21st-century skills,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

Gurpreet believes that PPR residents are worth targeting because often, they have the skills but no avenue to develop and practise.

“Likewise, if people with a certain skill set want to help the kids who live in PPRs, where do they go? There is no avenue for them either,” he added.

He also believes that such a programme would address the looming problem of youth unemployment in the developing economy.

“It’s a learning process which extends well into adolescence and adulthood. To tackle the global job crisis head-on, we need to work on the entire educational value chain,” he said.

Me.reka has recently written to Yayasan Hasanah and suggested the Poverty Alleviation Programme to go on for three years.

“It is hard to convince, but there is no other way. Organisations like this hold the keys,” he noted. Gurpreet also highlighted that it was tough liaising with the previous government, but things have been progressing better with the new administration.

“We hope obtaining a grant for projects that benefit the society and address the looming Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) would be easier,” he said.

Fully equipped with wood and metal workshop, electronic lab, textile studio, design studio, virtual reality facilities, co-working space and a cafe, Gurpreet said the reach of Me.reka goes beyond its physical makerspace.

“This lack of engagement and hands-on learning has triggered concerns about the effectiveness of education. If the country is to make headway in IR4.0 and become a developed nation, students must be equipped for the jobs of the future.

“This means being well-versed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and being entrepreneurial enough to build products using cutting-edge technologies,” he added.

Gurpreet and his team are also working on a business-to-consumer centric digital platform to bridge all makerspaces around Malaysia and the South-East Asian region.

To put things into perspective, makerspaces are quickly becoming places where everything from the Internet of Things devices to renewable-energy power stations can be conceived, refined and pushed forward.

These spaces also appear poised to become the laboratories for macro-scale urban experimentation, potentially helping forge a new public procurement model.

“It will be like an Uber for makers, a person can open the mobile application and it is filled with all different facets.

“A person can be anywhere within this region, and when he or she opens the app to look for a particular tool or skill class, information is all provided,” Gurpreet said, adding that this would also in turn connect all different hubs regionally.

Gurpreet highlighted that the mobile app will be ready in the next six to 12 months.

“For this, we have applied for three grants over the past two months and are in the middle of talking to developers.

“We would appreciate collaboration with the government to unlock all the hubs and spaces we have, including Technology Park Malaysia, Sirim Bhd’s Machine Development Centre and its multiple other centres,” he said.