IN A move to groom entrepreneurially minded pharmacy students in Malaysia, Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd (CCM) expanded its CCM Jati (Jalinan Universiti dan Industri) initiative to enrol 50 pharmacy undergraduates of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) into the programme annually.
The initiative, led by CCM’s pharmaceutical arm CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd, is working to develop 500 successful and competitive entrepreneurs in community pharmaceutical retail by 2020 and has been working with three other local universities – Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Malaysia Sabah – since it began in 2011. Today, the initiative has successfully enrolled more than 200 undergraduates.
The programme aims to address the growing concern of unemployment among pharmacy graduates, with over 1,000 graduates expected to enter the sector each year, adding to more than 12,000 existing pharmacists in Malaysia today.
The industry-university collaboration promotes community pharmacies in rural locations and hopes to support bumipitra entrepreneurs in line with the Government’s initiatives to address the uneven distribution of pharmacists and increase bumiputra participation in the sector.
Speaking at the signing ceremony with IIUM, CCM Pharmaceuticals chief commercial officer Billy Urudra hoped the initiative becomes a conducive platform to develop industry-ready graduates who are empowered with entrepreneurial spirit as they embark into the working world.
“Through the programme, we hope to create graduates who are set apart from their peers and have higher aspirations upon entering the job market.
“Instead of solely heading to work for entities that are already established, we strive to develop young adults who are capable and confident of starting their own companies and are ‘employer’ material,” he said.
As more and more pharmacy graduates enter the profession each year, competition to secure a good job heightens. In 2013, the Health Ministry reported that low-quality graduates, including those with poor language proficiency, skills and training were among those facing unemployment in the medical field.
CCM said it is essential for students to equip themselves with knowledge, skills and adequate industry exposure in order to gain an edge among their peers. Often, pharmacists who aspire to become entrepreneurs lack knowledge and experience in operating a retail outlet as their areas of focus have primarily been academia and research.
“As the leading manufacturer in the industry and a pioneer of halal pharmaceuticals in Malaysia, CCM has extensive experience in R&D, manufacturing, distribution and retail expertise, and is well positioned to groom students for entrepreneurship in the future,” said Urudra.
The three-year capacity building programme offers students a holistic immersion into the industry and empowers them with entrepreneurial capabilities.
This includes exposure to marketing, business management and hands-on retailing through interaction with professionals from CCM as well as training sessions organised by the company.
Undergraduates will also be able to undergo an internship at a Jati kiosk set up by CCM, which will also serve as a pharmacy for the university.
“Entrepreneurship is an important skill for all students today and we are proud to partner with CCM to help us imbue these values in our undergraduates. The programme is also a great platform for our students to gain early exposure and establish relationships with experts in the field.
“Through this collaboration, we are confident of developing successful and enterprising graduates,” said IIUM Rector Prof Datuk Sri Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin.