Govt has no plans to mandate paid private sector internships, says ministry

PETALING JAYA: The government has no plans to make allowances mandatory for private sector internships, says the Youth and Sports Ministry.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday (Feb 18), it said minister Hannah Yeoh, during her press conference on Feb 16, was only urging the private sector to emulate the government's paid internship policies.

"Under existing government policies, private enterprises are not required to give allowances to students participating in industrial training programmes.

"The government, however, strongly urges private businesses to follow the government's lead and introduce stipend payments to students undertaking industrial training.

She added that the idea of requiring the private sector to provide allowances for internships had to be looked at from a variety of angles.

On Feb 16, Yeoh responded to a question from Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman during a press conference in Parliament, urging the government to implement paid internship programmes in the private sector.

She said the ministry was aware this may not be suitable as many countries were still recovering financially from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Syed Saddiq, who was present during the press conference, echoed Yeoh's proposal.

"They are not coolies at work. It is already 2023 and it is important that the government sends a clear message that industrial trainees shouldn't be exploited to work from morning till night, even on their weekends, without receiving any payment," he said.

During Syed Saddiq's tenure as youth and sports minister in 2019, the government had raised the allowances of paid internship in each federal ministry, government agencies and departments from RM300 to RM900.

On Feb 17, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the proposal to make it compulsory to pay allowances to students who undergo industrial training in the private sector would discourage employers from offering places for internship.

Instead of compelling employers to pay internship allowance, he said the government should consider giving more incentives to employers to take in more interns and make it mandatory for all undergraduates to undergo internship.

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