Skills and employability

New partnership to improve employment and career prospects of young workers in Sabah

The ILO Skills for Prosperity Programme in Malaysia, the British High Commission and the Sabah Skills and Technology Centre will work together to tackle the issue of skills mismatch, aiming to implement training models that meet the needs of both labour markets and local Sabahans.

Press release | 20 April 2021
BANGKOK (ILO News) — Youth, women and other vulnerable groups in Sabah will see enhanced employment opportunities and career progression under a new partnership launched today in Sabah, Malaysia.
The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Skills for Prosperity Programme in Malaysia (SfP-Malaysia), the British High Commission and the Sabah Skills and Technology Centre (SSTC) will work together to  tackle the issue of skills mismatch, aiming to implement training models that meet the needs of both labour markets and local Sabahans. The project also aims to enhance the functions and membership base of the existing local network of organizations involved in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development.

Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation for Sabah, Y.B Datuk Haji Yakub Khan, centre, presides over the launch of the ILO-UK-SSTC partnership in Sabah, Malaysia on 20 April 2021. ©SSTC
Over the next 12 months, SSTC will work closely with government agencies, TVET institutions, industry, community leaders and civil society organizations to develop pilot training modalities that meet changing industry skills demand as well as fit the needs of local people.

In Sabah, geographical barriers are among the challenges that have made it more difficult for all groups of people to receive quality training and formal certification for their skills gained through informal channels. Enabling greater access to TVET and skills systems for all will thus be a strong focus of this initiative.

SSTC trainees pick oil palm kernels as part of the oil palm plantation operation and supervision programme in Sabah, Malaysia. ©SSTC
The project will train 100 Sabahans on skills needed by the food processing industry, and then provide post-training support such as career mapping and access to job markets. The target trainees are women and youth—including informal workers, small- and medium-sized enterprise owners and those not in education, employment or training—as well as people from other vulnerable communities.

The initiative will consolidate results and lessons learned from these pilot programmes as a tool kit and a set of policy recommendations, and then share them with key stakeholders in Sabah and at the national level.

Additionally, the partnership will build a stronger and more sustainable TVET and skills ecosystem in Sabah, enabling sustainable contributions from informal TVET and skills development institutions and civil society organizations that have already provided training for vulnerable communities.

“We are grateful to the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur and International Labour Organization for giving Sabahans this opportunity and having the confidence on SSTC to facilitate, coordinate and implement this programme. I assure you the SSTC Management Council and team will put in our best effort to ensure this programme achieves its objectives,” said Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau, Chairman of SSTC Management Council.

His Excellency Charles Hay, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, said, “This TVET and skills initiative will help youth, women, low income earners who need support with employability. It couldn’t have come at a better time to prepare this vulnerable group as the economy and job market recover from the pandemic. The Skills for Prosperity programme is a great example of how the UK is supporting Malaysia in its aspirations for an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.”

Throughout the process, the ILO will assist with technical support, providing guidelines and materials for training modalities development.

“We see many great local efforts to push TVET and skills development up the state agenda. And this new partnership is one of them,” said Panudda Boonpala, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “I trust that this initiative will not only be sustainable but also replicable,” she added.

This timely initiative will also support industry and human capital development under the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Development Plan 1.0 launched on 29 March 2021.

SfP-Malaysia is part of the ILO-led Skills for Prosperity in South-East Asia Programme (SfP-SEA), which also operates in Indonesia and the Philippines and is funded by the UK government. The programme aims to enhance equity, quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of TVET and skills systems in the three countries.

About ten days ago, SfP-Malaysia launched a similar partnership in Kedah with the Kedah Industrial Skills and Management Development Centre and the British High Commission.

Established in 2000 and located in Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, SSTC has trained close to 18,000 workers and youth in a range of technical skills, the fourth industrial revolution, manufacturing, oil & gas, safety & health, and management skills.

For further information please contact:

Surasak Glahan
Communication and Information Management Office
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand
Email:, Mobile: +66614507337