Aligning business with education

  • SMEBiz
  • Monday, 23 Sep 2019

Looking ahead: The three Yayasan PKT scholarship graduates, seen here with Zamra (right), are excited about their prospects in the industry.

CORPORATE social responsibility (CSR) must be targeted, meaningful and impactful, but these aspects are often overshadowed by publicity stunts or one-off efforts. Not so for PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd.

Its group chief executive and managing director Datuk Michael Tio believes that CSR needs to be aligned with business goals to ensure continuity and positive impact, which is aligned with the triple bottom line framework.

He explains, “The triple bottom line is the philosophy that we carry out in our strategies and how we do business. The first thing is to ensure that the company is profitable first, then be socially and environmentally profitable.

“Giving away money is the easiest way (of doing CSR), but we feel that that is not good enough because all our CSR efforts should be sustainable. It shouldn’t be one-off. So we try to create a lot of sustainable CSR programmes.”

Besides the industry accolades Tio has garnered throughout his illustrious career, one commonality is the seasoned entrepreneur’s unwavering focus on CSR and in giving back to the society over the years – something built into PKT Logistics Group’s DNA and demonstrated through its CSR initiatives in various sectors.

“When we went into our stage of transformation in 2008, we realised we needed to increase our CSR and so we created five pillars, namely community development, education and skills enhancement, art and culture, environmental conservation, as well as sports and recreational, ” he shares.

Tio’s strong insistence on the importance of education is echoed through PKT Logistics Group’s wholly-owned higher learning institute, Peninsula College, which synergises to undertake programmes such as Jom Bekerja Sambil Belajar.

The programme, which gives its students the opportunity to work part-time across different departments within the group and earn some income, enables the new generation of talents to gain hands-on and relevant industrial experience in the field. In turn, this would help foster workforce-ready talents and contribute to the industry’s growth.

Setting priorities: Tio says that companies must first be profitable before looking into corporate social responsibility initiatives.Setting priorities: Tio says that companies must first be profitable before looking into corporate social responsibility initiatives.

At the same time, this also makes business sense; this enables a pipeline of next-generation talents to be groomed as future leaders and reduces the company’s dependency on foreign labour at the same time.

Beyond that, Tio himself is also heavily involved in taking the lead to do more in education by working with the public sector. He numbers among the members of the Industry Advisory Council for the Ministry of Higher Education’s polytechnic and community college education department (JPPKK) and is also an adjunct professor for Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Tying back to this focus on education is the introduction of the DMT Scholarship Award. Worth RM1mil annually, the scholarship provided through Yayasan PKT gives high achievers and talented undergraduates from Peninsula College, Politeknik Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (Polisas) and Politeknik Seberang Perai the opportunity to seek quality education for their future by offering the necessary financial assistance.

Yayasan PKT was set up to give out the scholarships, something it will continue to focus on – primarily in the area of logistics – to spur the industry’s growth towards a larger scale and for Malaysia to become the new logistics hub in Asean, overtaking Singapore.

The scholarship, Tio says, started as a means to generate buzz among youths to study logistics and to ensure sufficient talent to meet market demand. Uniquely, the scholarships offered have no strings attached, a fact clearly stated at the start.

He says, “One of the things lacking in the industry is the lack of logisticians in the market. Malaysia has very good potential to become a regional hub after Singapore because of its competitive advantages.”

“The problem is the lack of awareness and a mismatch in terms of our graduates and the job opportunities available in the market, which is where our collaboration with Polisas started. Logistics is the future and we’re very far behind.”

Work and learn: The Jom Bekerja Sambil Belajar programme gives students the opportunity to work part-time at PKT Logistics Group’s warehouse, finance and human resources departments.Work and learn: The Jom Bekerja Sambil Belajar programme gives students the opportunity to work part-time at PKT Logistics Group’s warehouse, finance and human resources departments.

Tio adds that the collaboration started around 2012, before PKT Logistics Group acquired Peninsula College in its aim to intensify efforts in producing logistics graduates, or logisticians, as he calls them.

“Singapore is hiring about 200,000 logisticians. Malaysia is also moving towards that direction and we’re employing about 50,000 on average.

“If we’re looking at increasing the economic contribution of logistics within the next five years, we’re looking at the need for 100,000 logisticians in the next five years. To meet that demand, we need to produce at least 20,000 logistics graduates a year. We’re very far behind.”

Thus far, there are four batches of Polisas students who have received the scholarship, totalling to RM1.2mil over the years.

Bridging public-private learning

Polisas corporate industry services and employability centre unit head Zamra Derahman said the public-private relationship between Polisas and PKT Logistics Group started in 2012.

“Those who receive the scholarship are offered the opportunity to further their studies at Peninsula College for two years to receive their Bachelor’s Degree in related sectors. Some then come back to work for PKT Logistics Group, or to do practical training. A lot of our students also do their internships there, ” she shares.

That said, she points out that a number of Polisas students have also been offered employment opportunities although they were not scholarship recipients, as they were screened and interviewed during the evaluation process.

Among the scholarship recipients are logistics management and supply chain graduate Nur Shahira Sazlin Sharom, who says that it gave her the opportunity to work in an industry she is passionate about.

She adds, “Logistics is not as easy as many people may think and I decided to explore this field to show other entrepreneurs we can be successful in logistics as well. With the choice and opportunity this scholarship provided me, I want to use it to make sure I become a successful logistician in the future.”

For Aiza Shafia Mond Kifli, the scholarship that Yayasan PKT offers opens a path for him to make a difference and help grow the industry in the future.

“There are not many companies that offer such a scholarship and Malaysia is in fact just beginning to bloom in the arena of logistics, so this is a good chance for me to change the misconceptions and lack of understanding surrounding the logistics industry, ” she shares, adding that she would also like to change the perception that the industry is only for men.

Muhammad Harib Mohd Rafi, on the other hand, highlights the ability to work and study at the same time as an additional benefit of the scholarship, as it gave him a foot-in-the-door to the industry.

He says, “I want to get involved in imports and exports, such as customs and the procedures necessary throughout the process. I also want to learn more about transportation and the entire ecosystem around it, so this will ensure that I know the business thoroughly.”

All three 22-year-olds are currently studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Logistics Management at Peninsula College.

PKT Logistics Group also has other cooperative efforts with the government department and Polisas, including the Young SocialPreneur programme. The programme, which recruits students to become social entrepreneurs by undertaking social projects, has already been organised twice and will see its third edition in 2020. Profits for the projects are then channelled back to society.

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