Young Malaysians get careers on the move with China-backed rail project
China Daily

The East Coast Rail Link, or ECRL, Malaysia's mega-rail project jointly constructed with a Chinese company, will bring multiple benefits to the country upon completion, including the upskilling of local talent in the railway industry.

Muhammad Syahmin bin Zainol (center), a field engineer, works at a construction site of the East Coast Rail Link project in Pahang, Malaysia, on Monday. (Photo: Xinhua)

A key element of this is the Industrial Skills Training Program, or PLKI-ECRL, carried out by China Communications Construction Company, or CCCC, and Malaysia Rail Link in cooperation with Beijing Jiaotong University, Southwest Jiaotong University of China and over 10 educational and training institutions in Malaysia. The program is designed to train 5,000 technicians in railway construction and operation.

Among those who have benefited from the program is Muhammad Syahmin bin Zainol, a field engineer for utility relocation, who signed up in 2017 upon completion of his bachelor's degree in civil engineering at the University of Malaysia Pahang.

Syahmin said that he had long been fascinated with railways after watching documentaries on railway construction in China, sparking his interest in civil engineering and the railway sector. The program has enabled him to pursue his dream.

"It opens a path that I have wanted to do from my childhood," he told Xinhua News Agency in an interview. "So it's very important and very beneficial for me to join the PLKI-ECRL because joining a mega project is not easy for a fresh graduate. I think that if you want to join a mega project in Malaysia, you must have a minimum of two or three years' experience. So to join it with fresh graduate status is quite important for me." Syahmin added: "They send lecturers from Beijing Jiaotong University to teach us the course for railway engineering. During that time, they taught us knowledge regarding railway engineering, bridge construction, tunnel construction and basic Mandarin."

Informative classes

He said he found the classes, including the Chinese-language classes, to be fun and informative.

Compared with his broader studies at university, training in the program enabled him to focus on an area of interest and to expand his knowledge of tunnels, bridges, and other key components of railways.

"During my PLKI training, they mainly revolve around railway construction," he said.

In addition to informative courses, the program also helped him become a better team player in a productive work environment, where helpful and friendly seniors provided guidance.

"It is really like teamwork things. I can go there and ask them what or how to do this, how to do that. And if I have some idea, I can pitch it to them. So it's very constructive. It has taught me a lot. So CCCC from what I see, it is a family for me," he said, adding that working at the company is enjoyable and fulfilling.

So far, hundreds of Malaysians have finished their training in the program and joined ECRL as engineers and operators of heavy machinery.