We deserve an allowance, say interns

RECENTLY, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said a proposal to compel the private sector to pay allowances to students undergoing industrial training, as was done in the public sector, would be brought to the Cabinet for discussion.

Speaking during a press conference in Parliament on Feb 15, she said there was a need to discuss with both the Higher Education Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry on the pros and cons of implementing the proposal.

She added that her ministry was aware that the implementation of the proposal was unsuitable at this time because most private companies were still in the process of post-Covid-19 recovery.

In response, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the proposal, if carried out, would discourage employers from offering places for internships.

Its president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said employers had to carry out a lot of planning to ensure knowledge and skills were transferred to the interns, and that stakeholders should thank the industries for helping to train interns.

But what do the youth think about the proposal? Nur Aisya Shasmeen, who is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme, got her peers to share their views.

“I’m paid a monthly allowance for my industrial training and it is around RM800. It has come in handy as I have bills to pay. As interns, we are given a lot of tasks and are sometimes required to learn the ropes on our own. We should be paid an allowance because even though we gain experience from our internships, we need money to pay for our transportation and such.”

– Elisha Iva Wong, 22

“I receive RM600 as my monthly allowance. But for me, this is not a sufficient amount, especially in the Klang Valley. Some companies pay RM1,000. Both private and public sectors should give allowances to students because although we’re interns, we’re still employees working for the companies.”

– Alya Iman, 23

“I received an allowance of up to RM800 for my three-month internship. It certainly felt as if my time and effort had paid off. The allowance also helped in my personal finances as I was a student.

The private sector should give allowances to interns even if the amount is not big. Although we lack exposure and need the industrial training as part of our learning, we still contribute to the companies to which we are attached. Giving us allowances prevents labour exploitation, which does occur. In addition, it can encourage us to work harder during the internship.”

– Qashrina Khairul, 19

“No allowance is provided for teacher trainees except for those in areas like Putrajaya. Even so, it is given at the end of the training. I was paid more than RM1,000. During my training,

I had to fork out my own money for books and photocopied materials for lessons in class, and for petrol to get to work. I agree that the private sector should pay allowances to students during their training. The workload given to them is just as much as, if not more than, that given to permanent employees. The least they should be paid is RM1,000 per month.”

– Radhi Amir, 27

“I will receive RM200 for my one-month elective training in June, which I will mainly use for petrol. Companies in the private sector should provide a suitable allowance in accordance with the cost of living in the areas they are based in.

The amount of work that students do during industrial placements is almost equivalent to that of an employee. Despite the fact that students are there for the ‘learning experience’, companies have to take into consideration that the students will have to rent accommodation, travel to and from work, and support all the other costs of living just like full-time employees.”

– Nabilah Huda, 21

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