How SL1M is transforming lives nationwide
HE graduated with a degree in computer systems engineering and began working in IT support. When the manufacturing company he was working at for three years was forced to shut its operations, Basker Balasundram began to lose hope, because this was the second company he had worked at which had to shut down.
On top of that, his father got into an accident that left the sole of his foot injured. Yet, Basker’s father continued to work as a lorry driver to make ends meet, while dealing with diabetes, which only prolonged the healing process.
Besides taking care of his father, Basker was also faced with growing debt from his monthly mortgage instalments for a house he had bought.
If that wasn’t troubling enough, he was also faced with the challenge of securing employment for six years as many of the employers he met required technical skills which he didn’t have. Due to circumstances, he was forced to work odd jobs, which was damaging to his morale and family’s pride.
His luck turned around when one day, he saw an advertisement by SL1M-TM (Skim Latihan 1Malaysia-Telekom Malaysia). The job, however, required him to leave Ipoh and his family. Thankfully, his family managed to get a relative to take care of his father.
After eight months of training, he received a permanent position at TM Cyber and attained a technical certification which he previously would not have been able to afford.
Today, he is an assistant manager with TM’s subsidiary group, VADS Lyfe Sdn Bhd and he is living with his wife and beautiful baby boy and visits his parents in Ipoh weekly.
SL1M secretariat head, Norashikin Ismail said: “His father is okay now. Basker is able to take care of his family today and that is something fulfilling.
“No job can pay for that kind of fulfilment.”
The successes of SL1M
Basker’s story is one of the countless success stories of graduates who have gone through the SL1M programme.
Graduates like Basker are the primary reason why SL1M was incepted in June 2011 as a training programme to help unemployed graduates.
The programme which is targeted to unemployed and underemployed (where their qualification does not match their job) graduates is aimed at enhancing their soft skills, knowledge and technical capabilities; which ultimately raises their marketability. The programme also places a priority on rural and urban poor, marginalised and underprivileged students.
SL1M began as a corporate social responsibility programme in Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), before it caught the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in 2011. Realising the impact the programme had had on students, he decided to turn it into a nationwide effort to assist unemployed graduates.
To date, a large number of government-linked companies and private corporations of various sizes and industries have joined hands with SL1M to give back to the country by providing a platform of learning and development for SL1M trainees. Some of the companies who have been a partner since the beginning include Maybank, CIMB, Celcom and UEM Group.
Maybank Group Human Capital Group Resourcing Centre head and executive vice-president Marlin A. Nordin said: “We have SL1M trainees who have moved on to higher positions like project managers working in other countries while others have achieved high achievers’ awards.”
According to talent acquisition head Soon Le Meng, CIMB Group has taken up 2,500 SL1M trainees since 2011, around 30% of whom were absorbed into the company upon completion of their training.
What’s incredible is that, to date, SL1M has directly and indirectly assisted 138,000 graduates in enhancing their employability.
This year’s roadshows which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Sarawak, Kedah, Sabah, Melaka and Perak, brought together scores of graduates and employers for job applications and on-the-spot interviews.
One of the highlights of the latest roadshow held in Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Tanjung Malim, Perak was the attendance of differently abled job seekers and entrepreneurs.
One stunning example was the attendance of 23-year-old Aida Fazira Mohamad Alias @ Ayit who was born without legs. Having just completed her degree in graphic design, she said in an interview: “I decided to come here to give it a try (at job applications). Who knows that by coming here, something good might along.”
She added: “I feel that the SL1M programme is good because it provides opportunities to everyone of all abilities.”
The roadshow also featured talks by a 34-year-old blind motorcycle mechanic, Azhar Ibrahim, and Orang Asli entrepreneur, Nazra Basir.
Their individual success stories served to show that if they (being differently abled or from a marginalised community) had made it in life, so can everyone else.
Little obstacles along the way
While the programme has assisted countless graduates and also helped companies manage their talent pool and boost their corporate image, various parties have unfortunately decided to misuse the SL1M name for their personal gain.
They do this by giving trainees a salary cut and then asking trainees to pay the company back.
Norashikin said: “There are also cases where companies use SL1M’s name even though they are not registered with the programme.”
In fact, in a recent interview at the SL1M roadshow in Perak, she expressed her frustration about various parties looking down on SL1M’s sincere efforts.
Apart from that, the 2017 SL1M roadshows also brought alight the cracks in our crop of fresh graduates. These include a lack of marketability and soft skills, a reluctance to move to another state and to do something outside their field of study, narrow-mindedness, and a picky attitude about salary and job type.
The iron lady behind SL1M
Running a part job recruitment agency, part tax and levy advisor, part auditor, part legal advisor, part events management company and part training and development company, is not a task for the faint-hearted.
Which is probably why Norashikin Ismail was seconded from BNM to run SL1M.
With her strong personality and candidly honest remarks, this remarkably optimistic woman is filled with so much passion to drive the mission of SL1M.
During the latest roadshow in Perak, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan had this to say about her: “I have never met someone more active, night and day, like Norashikin Ismail.”
When asked where she gets her passion and energy from, she said: “In everything that you do, you must be sincere. And even if we managed to help at least one person to get a job, I am as happy as if my own child had gotten a job.
“Because we know the struggles of these people if they can’t get a job. Especially if you come from a kampung.”
She cited Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh’s statement where he said 55,000 graduates were unemployed for six months after completion of studies in 2016.
To which she said: “I don’t think the number will decrease dramatically next year. Practically speaking, next year’s economy is not that rosy. It will take time to pick up.
“But then again, this issue goes back to the graduates themselves. No matter what programme or interventions we run, if they have a negative attitude and mindset, there’s only so much we can do to help.”
In a nutshell
Like Basker, there are many others out there whose stories we may not know of. If it wasn’t for that one newspaper article that caught Basker’s attention, he probably would have missed a golden opportunity to turn his life around.
Rahman said: “In my opinion, of all the government initiatives and interventions undertaken to help graduates with employment, the most effective and active is the SL1M programme.”
The combined effort of SL1M, and the government and private sectors has driven the SL1M programme to yield the kind of success it has today. While their impact may seem small to some, but all it takes is to reach a small community to make a great difference.
For more success stories from SL1M, visit their Youtube page ‘SL1M Official’. To find out how you can implement the SL1M programme into your company, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Do visit SL1M’s official Facebook page ‘Skim Latihan 1Malaysia’ for latest updates and announcements!