BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei will need 13,000 skilled workers in the energy and construction industries over the next five years, said the chair of Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) Energy.

Hjh Rosita Hj Hassan Tuesday named the top five skills that will continue to be in demand in the near future – scaffolding, welding, painting and blasting riggers as well as marker fitter.

The Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) Energy is one of five working groups set up under the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), which was established last year to reduce unemployment.

The other steering committees are in the marine, tourism, ICT and construction industries.

The committees serve as a platform for collaboration between industry players, regulators and training institutions towards effective sectoral manpower planning.

They are expected to identify critical jobs that are in high demand and develop competency standards required in the five industries.

New training programme aims to meet industry demand

During a market engagement event for 30 registered training organisations in the oil and gas sector, Hjh Rosita announced a newly rebranded qualification programme that seeks to align training of Bruneians with industry needs.

Dubbed iSkill, the programme was developed between MISC Energy and the Institute of Technical Education (IBTE).

Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) Energy chair Hjh Rosita Hj Hassan speaks to the media on the sidelines of the market engagement event for registered training organisations in the oil and gas industry on Tuesday. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Hjh Rosita said the iSkill programme provides a comprehensive review of training and competency standards, certifications and assessment requirements.

“This is not a new programme, it is a rebranding and improvement of the programmes under the Centre of Capacity Building (PPK),” she said in an interview.

The Centre of Capacity Building was previously under the purview of Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) and has since been transferred to the education ministry.

The iSkill programme, which will be conducted by IBTE, will consist of up to two years of training and industry placement.

iSkill will start its first welding course in September. In the first cohort, five programmes will be on offer – iSkill NTEC Level 3 Welding; iSkill ISQ Level 2 Scaffolding; iSkill ISQ Level 2 Riggers; iSkill ISQ Level 2 Blaster Painter; ISQ Level 2 Marker/Piper Fitter and ISQ Level 2 Welding.

“The first intake is 100 people for each programme. Therefore, we would have 500 people every year,” said Hjh Rosita.

Registrations for courses in scaffolding, riggers, blaster painter and marker fitter will open from Q3 2020 to 2021 and more programmes are expected to be introduced next year.

Hjh Rosita said, “At the moment, we have started to review another five skills such as mechanical engineering tech; electrical engineering tech; instrumentation tech, plant operators and plant inspector.”

After evaluating the previous welding course and seeking feedback from industry players, the committee has also increased the industry placement from three to six months.

“Our focus is to give them real working exposure during their industry placement and placing them to at least two companies so that they can see a variety of work programmes,” said Hjh Rosita, who is also the in country value manager for Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Second minister of finance and economy YB Dato Dr Hj Md Amin, in his capacity as the MPEC chairman, delivers his speech at the market engagement event for registered training organisations in the oil and gas industry. Photo courtesy of Azli Azney

MPEC reviews manpower policies

As part of initiatives to reduce unemployment, the MPEC is currently reviewing manpower policies and processes towards strengthening workforce localisation.

Brunei’s unemployment rate stood at 6.8 percent last year, down from 8.7 percent in 2018.

The council is also working with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports towards improving the marketability of persons with different abilities to ensure inclusivity and diversity in the labour force.

YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and second minister of finance and economy, said developing the workforce to meet industry demand is key to Brunei’s economic growth.

Speaking during the market engagement event, he said Brunei will continue to develop locals in the energy sector as it remains a “strategic sector going forward”.

“We will also move on to replicate this for other sectors in our efforts to diversify our economy and reduce unemployment,” said the minister in his capacity as the MPEC chairman.

Through the steering committees, the minister said skill mismatches can be addressed effectively. 

“Locals can be upskilled and reskilled with the right competencies and attributes in order to stay relevant in the job market and ensure their employability,” he added.

Funding for locals to join upskilling courses

Local employees and jobseekers in the private sector will be able to seek funding assistance to join training courses under the new SkillsPlus programme.

The programme encourages locals to learn new skills and improve their employability.

The Manpower Planning and Employment Council introduced the SkillsPlus programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Education’s Lifelong Learning Centre.