Implementing strategies to increase workforce participation and productivity are important elements to growing the economy and business success. Changing the way we think about work and how employees participate in the workforce is happening around the world. Malaysia’s new focus on increasing flexible work opportunities is good for employees and their families, and is also a very positive step for Malaysian business and the economy. Increasing opportunities to work flexibly are good for all employees as it can give them the opportunity to manage their work and family commitments. In particular, it can enable women to continue to be part of the workforce.
When flexible work policies are well implemented, employers reduce their recruiting costs, experience improved productivity, and help to retain staff with vital corporate knowledge and skills. In short, flexible work can benefit the bottom line. Malaysia recognised the importance of increasing workforce participation and has established flexWorkLife.my initiative, a collaboration between the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and Talent Corporation Malaysia, to facilitate the return of women to the workforce. Malaysia has made good progress in this area over the past few years with a 6.8 per cent increase in the rate of women of working age participating in the workforce since 2010. However, there is an understanding that with a participation rate of just under 55 per cent, there remains a significant opportunity to grow the number.
A study from the World Bank suggests Malaysia could achieve an economic growth dividend of about 0.4 per cent a year by attaining higher female participation rate in the workforce. Implementing flexible work practices is not without its challenges and businesses have a leading role to play in developing policies that encourage their employees to seek flexible work arrangements. Initiatives like flexWorkLife.my can assist in shifting attitudes towards flexible work. A recent survey conducted by CPA Australia in Malaysia and across the Asia Pacific showed many men and women have a negative perception of the impact working flexibly could have on their career prospects.
The survey showed that regardless of gender more than a quarter of respondents with flexible work arrangements believed it would have a negative impact on their prospects for promotion. The results were somewhat more positive in Malaysia than Australia and Hong Kong, with respondents from Malaysia less likely to believe that working flexibly would negatively impact promotion chances (20 per cent) than respondents from Australia (35 per cent) and Hong Kong (31 per cent). Respondents from Malaysia were also more likely to believe that flexible work would have a positive impact on the quality of work they perform (36 per cent) than respondents from Australia (20 per cent) and Hong Kong (24 per cent). On the other hand, Australian respondents were significantly more likely to have requested flexible work arrangements (72 per cent) than respondents from Hong Kong (35 per cent) and Malaysia (44 per cent).
While the survey results and the Government’s flexWorkLife.my initiative are positive indications on flexible work in Malaysia, there is room for further changes to business culture. Many employers have made much of their desire to increase opportunities for workplace flexibility, but unfortunately it would seem the employee experience is not matching up to some of the rhetoric from employers. Having the right policies in place is only part of the solution. T
he culture of an organisation, the leadership’s commitment to the policies and their consistent implementation throughout the business is critical. From this year publicly listed companies in Malaysia are being required to disclose the gender representation of board members and key senior management in their annual reports. This additional disclosure is a positive step. We need to maximise our levels of workforce participation. Creating workplace practices that allow maximum participation is both economically and socially beneficial.
Source: New Strait Times, 25 April 2016
Australian developer Lendlease has signed an agreement with Malaysia's Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to collaborate on training programme for safety supervisors.
The Safety Supervisor Apprenticeship Programme is the first formal apprenticeship collaboration between the public and private sectors in Malaysia. The aim is to provide an integrated approach to industry-recognised construction training.
Apprentices who successfully complete the course will receive a formal CIDB and Lendlease qualification. The successful completion also earns the trainee certification by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and CIDB Akademi Binaan Malaysia.
These certifications are required before the apprentices can be appointed as site supervisors on projects.
This training model is similar to apprenticeships offered in the construction industry in Australia and the UK, where trainees earn an allowance while attending a college course and undergoing on-the-job training.
The programme varies from 12 to 24 months, subject to trainees' experience.
Dinesh Nambiar, Head of Lendlease in Malaysia, said: “Safety is one of our guiding principles and we are committed to incident and injury-free workplaces. Through this programme, we hope to attract youths to join and stay in the construction industry.”
Source: GCR 12 April 2016
Malaysia will remain on the radar of Eco World Development Group Bhd now and in the long term.
Its president and chief executive officer, Datuk Chang Khim Wah, said Eco World, however, was looking to further expand its overseas exposure.
“As you know, the Securities Commission (Malaysia) recently approved our plans to subscribe up to 30 per cent of Eco World International Bhd’s (EWI) proposed initial public offering.
“EWI is our way of targeting the United Kingdom and Australia markets strategically. What the market needs to know is that Eco World and EWI are separate entities.
“Eco World will continue to focus on Malaysia while EWI will look into further opportunities in the UK and Australia,” he said at Invest Malaysia 2016, here, yesterday.
EWI’s projects in London and West Sydney had secured cumulative sales of £712.5 million (RM4 billion) as of January 31. Upon completion of the EWI acquisition, Eco World can consolidate a proportionate share of the earnings, including those arising from the sales secured by EWI.
“Apart from contributions to future earnings, our proposed subscription for up to 30 per cent of the shares in EWI will provide us with many cross-branding and learning opportunities,” said Chang. He said the company would concentrate on the UK and Australian property markets for now.
Separately, it was confident of hitting a sales target of RM4 billion this year on the back of positive reception of its 11 ongoing projects and also the Bukit Bintang City Centre project, here. The 11 projects included Eco Botanic in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. “Our projects have a gross development value of RM81 billion, encompassing 3,000ha spread across the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang. This will keep us busy for up to 12 years,” said Chang.
Source: New Strait Times, 13 April 2016
Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp), through its indirect subsidiary Morning Charm Sdn Bhd, has entered into a joint venture (JV) to own and operate community pharmacy stores and distribute pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical products.
The diversified group told Bursa Malaysia that Morning Charm, which is 80% owned by BCorp’s unit Berjaya Group Bhd, would hold a 75% stake in the JV company Monarch Wonder Sdn Bhd and Melbourne-based CW Retail Asia Pty Ltd would own the rest.
CW and its affiliates (CW Network) supply goods and services to pharmacies and operate pharmacy chains in Australia which include, among others, pharmacies operated under the names of Chemist Warehouse, My Chemist and e-Pharmacy.
“Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist are large pharmacy chains which have a total of 376 stores to date,” said BCorp, whose businesses include direct selling and the trading of household and healthcare products under the Cosway Corp group.
CW Network is one of Australia’s largest pharmacy retailers, with a combined annual turnover of over A$3.2bil (RM9.7bil). It employs over 9,500 workers.
Monarch Wonder will operate a chain of pharmacies in Malaysia and other countries under the co-brand name of Chemist Warehouse Berjaya Asia or such other co-brand names as mutually agreed.
The JV company will supply goods and services to Cosway Pharmacies, which will be rebranded as Berjaya My Chemist pharmacies, and Tigas Alliance pharmacies.
“All Chemist Warehouse Berjaya Asia and Berjaya My Chemist pharmacies are members of Tigas Alliance, a pharmacy banner group in Malaysia which operates pharmacy services fulfillment, marketing and group-buying infrastructure,” BCorp said.
On the rationale for the JV, BCorp said the project would enable the BCorp group to expand and strengthen its pharmacy distribution and retail businesses under the co-brand names, as well as making its foray into the pharmacy warehousing business sector.
BCorp shares gained half a sen to close at 40 sen yesterday, with 20.806 million shares changing hands.
Source: The Star, 4 March 2016
Petronas Lubricants International (PLI), the global lubricants manufacturing and marketing arm of Petroliam Nasional Bhd, has opened a new office in Parramatta on Friday, marking its expansion to form a wider Asia-Pacific portfolio.
PLI said in a statement that through the establishment of PLI Australia Pty Ltd (PLIA), it expected to better serve its customer base in Australia and New Zealand, as well as to realise its plan to capture 4% of the market share in the two countries by 2021 and increase the company’s sales volume by 32%.
PLI managing director and group chief executive officer Giuseppe D'Arrigo said: “We are pleased to officially establish our business operations in Australia, after being present here for almost 15 years through our partnership with CNH Industrial. This will greatly enlarge our reach and significantly strengthen the presence of Petronas brand in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the group’s bigger market expansion strategy.”
Petronas Lubricants’ presence in Australia/New Zealand dates back to 2002. It first introduced its AmbrA and AkcelA lubricants in Australia through a third-party licensing agreement whereby proprietary formulations of both products were developed in collaboration with CNH Industrial, for the latter’s agricultural, construction machinery and industrial vehicles.
Established in 2008, PLI manufactures and markets a full range of high-quality automotive and industrial lubricants products in over 80 markets globally.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, it has over 30 marketing offices in 27 countries, managed through regional offices in Kuala Lumpur, Turin, Belo Horizonte, Chicago and Durban.
Source: The Star, 18 March 2016
Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) venture capital arm Petronas Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd has entered into an agreement to commercialise its composite technology repair system at a global level.
The national oil company said in a statement that Petronas Technology Ventures had signed a licensing agreement with Australia-based Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Advanced Composite Structures Australia Pty Ltd (ACS Australia) in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to commercialise the system, ProAssure Clamp.
Under the arrangement, the ProAssure Clamp will be manufactured and marketed worldwide by ACS Australia, a rotor blade and composite structure repair firm.
The agreement was formalised at a signing ceremony at the Offshore Technology Conference Asia 2016 in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
According to Petronas, the ProAssure Clamp is a cost-effective composite repair solution for preventing or arresting leaks in pipelines.
Petronas Technology Ventures chairman Zakaria Kasah said the advanced composite solution gave Petronas the opportunity to execute a safe and cost effective leak repair at its facilities.
“In addition, the ProAssure Clamp is customisable and this provides more benefits in terms of cost as it enables leak repair to be performed without a costly shutdown,” he noted.
Petronas said the advanced composite solution was lightweight and resistant to corrosion and could be customised for odd geometries.
“The overall production cost is lower due to reduced fabrication time in comparison to its metal counterpart. In addition, composites are also more fatigue resistant and customisable, which can be especially beneficial for extreme operating conditions,” it said.
CRC-ACS chief executive officer, Prof Murray Scott, said these clamps would be engineered to meet specialised customer requirements by CRC-ACS spin-out company, ACS Australia.
“It is our intention for ACS Australia to work with Petronas and other Malaysian companies to make the ProAssure Clamps available to the industry,” he said.
The composite clamp system has been independently tested by a third party to meet oil and gas industry standards which include ISO, ISO/TS and ASME certified by Lloyd’s Register. In addition, the ProAssure Clamp was successfully piloted at Petronas’ facility in Kertih. Terengganu.
CRC-ACS is funded by industry partners and Australian Government subsidy under the Cooperative Research Centre program whose purpose was to pursue common outcomes for the advancement of composites technology in Australia and around the world.
Source: The Star, 23 March 2016
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb today launched a publication promoting the trade and investment opportunities for Australian business in the ten countries comprising the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The ASEAN region has never offered more opportunities for Australian business than it does today,” Mr Robb said. “This is particularly the case in areas where the middle class is growing and consumer demand outstrips local supply, such as in the food and beverage, agriculture, healthcare, education and financial services sectors.”
Why ASEAN and Why Now? Insights for Australian Business draws on the experience of Australian companies and Australia’s network of diplomatic and trade missions operating in the ASEAN region. The publication delivers practical insights on doing business in ASEAN and how to use regional free trade agreements. It outlines new opportunities for Australian businesses underpinned by the forthcoming declaration of the ASEAN Economic Community, and the growth of the services sector and regional value chains across ASEAN.
“As a whole, ASEAN is Australia’s second largest trading partner, with two-way trade surpassing $100 billion in 2014,” Mr Robb said.
Australian exports to ASEAN countries grew almost 18 per cent between 2013 and 2014. During the same period, ASEAN investment in Australia grew 15 per cent, to over $110 billion.
“I urge all Australian exporters, tourism operators and investors to read this report and make the most of the opportunities that ASEAN has to offer,” Mr Robb said.
The publication was jointly prepared by Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is available at www.austrade.gov.au/ASEANreport
Significant gains have been made this week in negotiations for the world’s biggest regional trade deal, and a conclusion definitely remains within reach, the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said today.
“We all went to Hawaii with the aim of concluding and while we didn’t quite get there we are definitely on the cusp. Most importantly the resolve remains to get this done,” he said.
“While nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, I would say we have taken provisional decisions on more than 90 per cent of issues and during my involvement in TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) negotiations this has been by far the most productive meeting at both ministerial and officials’ level.”
“The provisional decisions already taken would make this the biggest regional agreement in the world and the most significant agreement since the conclusion of the Uruguay round more than 20 years ago,” Mr Robb said.
“From Australia’s perspective we have made significant gains across every area, including agricultural market access. There are a handful of big outstanding issues that directly affect us as well some moving parts involving other countries in areas like automotives, data protection around biologics, dairy and also sugar.
“There has been progress in all of these and from my reading the issues are not intractable and there remains a real determination to conclude the TPP among all parties,” he said.
Mr Robb said the TPP involved 12 countries which accounted for almost 40 per cent of GDP and presented an opportunity for truly transformational reform.
“The establishment of a set of common trade and investment rules across these 12 countries – with the prospect of others joining in the future – will have a most material affect in terms of lowering the cost of doing business.
“This in itself will support some quite profound economic benefits in terms of growth, job creation and higher living standards and that is on top of significant market access gains for our exports and services and a more conducive investment environment,” Mr Robb said.
Australia is committed to concluding the negotiations and will continue working closely with TPP partners in advance of meeting again in the near future.
The 12 countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Together they constitute around 40 percent of global GDP.
A third of all Australia’s exports of goods and services are to TPP countries and 45 per cent of the stock of Australian outwards investment. Negotiations began in 2010.
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will participate in ministerial talks in Hawaii from 28-31 July with the aim of concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
The TPP would be the world’s largest regional free trade agreement with the 12 countries involved accounting for around 40 per cent of the global economy and comprising more than 800 million people.
Mr Robb said one-third of Australia’s total trade in goods and services is with the 11 countries negotiating the TPP with total two-way trade worth around $223 billion while five out of the 11 are in the top 10 destinations for Australian investment.
“The TPP has transformational promise and would put in place the architecture for a more seamless trading environment between member countries which will bring significant new benefits for Australia,” he said.
“The negotiations are at a very advanced stage and we are pushing hard to ensure we can secure major gains and opportunities for Australian business and for our economy.”
The TPP will cover the traditional areas of trade, including market access for a wide-range of goods and services as well as investment and it will also address a number of 21st century trade and investment issues, such as competition, e-commerce, and anti-corruption.
The TPP also seeks to level the playing field between private business and state owned enterprises operating in the realm of commercial activities.
In traditional areas the government is working hard to deliver commercially meaningful outcomes for Australian agricultural exports such as beef, dairy, grains, sugar, horticulture, seafood and wine, as well as securing gains for our resources and energy exports, manufactured and other goods.
There will also be longer term integration benefits to Australian businesses and consumers by facilitating the better access to increasingly important global value chains.
“The TPP will help drive increased trade and investment; help secure the ongoing competitiveness of Australian businesses and make a significant contribution to supporting economic growth, job creation and higher living standards for Australians,” Mr Robb said.
The TPP is being negotiated between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Other countries will also be welcome to seek TPP membership in the future.
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