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Blue collar jobs not only pay well like other professions but also glamorous, says minister

Stressing a point: Fatimah speaking at the press conference. With her is PBB appointed committee member Natasha Nasa Douglas Uggah. Stressing a point: Fatimah speaking at the press conference. With her is PBB appointed committee member Natasha Nasa Douglas Uggah.

KUCHING: Concerted efforts are needed to make blue collar jobs as glamorous as other professions.

PBB Women’s wing deputy chief Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said public perception of blue collar jobs needed to be changed to produce more skilled and semi-skilled workers for Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

“We need to get rid of the social stigma of blue collar jobs. We need a strategy to attract school-leavers and dropouts, particularly boys, to take up technical and vocational courses.

“Blue collar jobs pay well and they are glamorous. We need to glamorise technical and vocational-related jobs because in our society, people still look at lawyers and doctors as glamorous professions.

“For instance, it is glamorous to be a welder because a trained welder can be employed anywhere in the world and earn good income,” she told a press conference after presenting a resolution on education and social development at Youth and Women’s wings triennial delegates conference here yesterday.

The other resolutions were on economy, development and politics.

Fatimah, who is Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister, said the Women’s wing would intensify its outreach programmes to absorb school dropouts and Form Five school-leavers in technical and vocational training.

She said statistics showed that the number or percentage of male students enrolled in primary schools was higher than females in the state.

“But as they progressed to secondary schools and higher learning institutions, there are more girls than boys. This clearly show that some boys drop out of school at the secondary level, and many more did not pursue tertiary education,” she said.

She said the situation could be due to lack of interest in academic studies, poverty, and ignorance about other opportunities available such as technical and vocational schools, and study loans.

Last year, there were 147,998 boys (51.6%) enrolled in primary schools against 138,510 girls (48.4%). In secondary schools, there were 101,112 boys (48.8%) against 105,876 girls (51.2%).

This year 144,992 boys (51.7%) enrolled in primary schools against 135,724 girls (48.3%); while in secondary schools there were 101,783 boys (49.5%) against 103,658 girls (50.5%).

Enrolment of boys from Sarawak in public higher learning institutions in the country showed lower number compared to girls at 10,295 (39.1%) against 16,054 (60.9%) in 2011.

The number of boys from Sarawak enrolled in private higher learning institutions in the country was also lower at 209,817 (48.9%) than girls at 219,156 (51.1%).

Fatimah said the resolution on education and social development also saw the need to carry out a study on retaining women, particularly those in their 30s, in the workforce.

She said although there were more women graduates in the state, the number of those remaining in the workforce and holding high positions was lower than men.

A study — Loss Leaders — would be carried out next year with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak to find out the causes and solutions, she added.

“We have a big pool of female graduates but what cause them to exit the workforce? Why are they not holding more higher positions? Is it because they refused the opportunities or not given the opportunities?”

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