KUALA LUMPUR - A new halal training centre on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur will be “very important for the development of the Islamic economy” according to Malaysia’s minister of religious affairs.
“When you talk about halal, it is expanding, so you need people who will staff it,” Mujahid Yusof Rawa told Salaam Gateway at the soft opening of the Malaysia International Halal Academy (MIHA) on Wednesday (Nov 27).
“If you do not have these staff, the [Malaysian halal industry] will be burdened with a lot of staffing issues. So a centre is being created where they will be trained. From there they will move into the system so the halal industry can expand,” said the minister in the prime minister’s department (religious affairs).
The MIHA will offer hands-on training in halal aspects of food and beverage manufacturing, food service and pharmaceuticals science.
It focuses on practical halal work, rather than theory that is central to other halal training courses.
The facility is a collaboration between Halal Academy, an online halal training platform, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and Bangi Golf Resort (BGR), where the premises are located.
The six-acre campus will open in two phases, in January and July. No cost has been quoted for the initiative.
Apart from providing mandatory training for individual staff under JAKIM’s Halal Professional Board programme, the centre will also educate sizeable groups of school-leavers with a focus on halal processes, its chief operations officer told Salaam Gateway.
“JAKIM appoints training centres for companies that are pursuing halal certification, whereby most have to send a member of staff for halal training. What we will do is that and more,” said Khairul Anwar Kamal.
“We will do specialised training, like halal sciences and halal manufacturing to help fresh school leavers. Everyone knows it is not easy to find a job nowadays. We train them and straight away we will place them into the industry.”
Halal Academy has collaborated with Bangi Golf Resort to devise a new module for teenagers who have just left school and do not plan to continue their education at a tertiary institution. JAKIM has endorsed this under its Halal Professional Board programme.
As it prepares for the campus facilities to be ready, Halal Academy has been conducting a “train and place” programme at the golf resort for students from low-income families sponsored by the local zakat board, Lembaga Zakat Selangor, and other commercial businesses.
"One of our clients, FamilyMart Malaysia, is asking for 40 halal operators a month. A company like [snack food manufacturer] Mamee might need 40 or 50 general workers,” said Khairul Anwar, adding that the academy anticipates training 500 students a year.
“Although it’s not a requirement by JAKIM, companies like these prefer to have halal-trained staff, because these are the ones who will work hands-on in the company.
“For general workers we will not be training just one or two, we will be training big numbers due to demand from the industry,” he added.
Three European companies, two from Italy and one from Germany, have installed their own equipment in the food manufacturing facilities, according to the head of operations.
“They are very keen to be part of the halal industry. They told us they would sponsor this because they want students trained to use the equipment so they are used to it when they start working for them,” he added.
Students attending the three-month module will be housed at the academy’s hostel and can gain practical experience at BGR’s facilities, including its golf resort, Bangi Farm Resort and Bangi Resort Hotel.
There they will be assigned various jobs, including farm work, hospitality service and housekeeping.
The campus will also feature fully equipped kitchens, as well as food manufacturing and meat processing facilities.
“In general, this programme gives [the students] not just great but appropriate working experience in a company by providing them with training through work and learning classes,” said BGR director Soh Chung-Ky, at the launch.
The programme will be kept free for school leavers while workers on JAKIM’s Halal Professional Board training will be paid for by their companies.
(Reporting by Richard Whitehead; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim firstname.lastname@example.org)
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