Feature: Railway industry training program adds value to Malaysia-China joint train project

Muhammad Syahmin Bin Zainol, a field engineer for utility relocation, works in his office at a section of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia, July 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Malaysia's mega rail project jointly constructed with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) will bring multiple benefits to the country upon completion including the upskilling of local talents in the railway industry.

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

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

Syahmin explained that he held a long time fascination with railways after watching documentaries on railway construction in China, sparking his interest in civil engineering and the railway sector. The PLKI-ECRL program has allowed him to reach the dream he had.

"It opens a path that I have wanted to do from my childhood. 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 grad. 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," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"They send lecturers from Beijing Jiaotong University to teach us the course for railway engineering. During that time I started, they taught us knowledge regarding railway engineering, bridge construction, tunnel construction and basic Mandarin," he said, adding that he found the classes, including the Chinese-language classes, to be fun and informative.

Compared to his studies in university which were more general, this program allowed him to focus on an area of interest and to expand his knowledge on tunnels, bridges, and other key components of railways.

"During my PLKI training, they mainly revolve around railway construction. For example, they taught us the bridge for railway," he said.

In addition to informative courses, the PLKI-ECRL program also helped him become a better team player with the conducive 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 here is enjoyable and fulfilling.

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

Tang Zhen, who is in charge of human resources of China Communications Construction (ECRL) SDN BHD, said the program, which aims to create job opportunities for locals, is mainly intended for people along the east coast of Malaysia. The program is a chance for them to pursue career development and improve living standards.

When visiting the construction site of ECRL this June, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the program has trained many local citizens in the rail industry and will succeed in producing more experts in this field.

The ECRL runs from Malaysia's largest transport hub Port Klang and travels across the peninsula to Kelantan state in northeastern Malaysia. The rail link is expected to greatly enhance connectivity and bring more balanced growth to the country by linking its less-developed region on the East Coast to the economic heartland on the West Coast upon its completion in 2026. 

Muhammad Syahmin Bin Zainol, a field engineer for utility relocation, walks at a construction site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia, July 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

Muhammad Syahmin Bin Zainol (L), a field engineer for utility relocation, talks with his colleague at a section of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia, July 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

Aerial photo taken on July 25, 2022 shows a construction site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

Muhammad Syahmin Bin Zainol (L), a field engineer for utility relocation, works at a construction site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia, July 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

Muhammad Syahmin Bin Zainol (C), a field engineer for utility relocation, works at a construction site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Pahang, Malaysia, July 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)

Editor: Yang Yifan