Several weeks ago, it was reported that a group of college students had managed to build a small number of houses costing less than RM20,000 complete with 3 bedrooms and a living room. The houses, measuring 600 sq ft each, were built under the Community House programme for the underprivileged group, which aims to provide housing for the poor and needy, at the same time providing a platform for students to apply and improve their skills.
Now, there are suggestions to introduce Building Construction and Agriculture as learning skills subjects in upper secondary schools as a long-term measure. The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) of Sabah director, Ir. Hj Sharifudin Che Omar believes that it would be a good way to encourage the younger generation to change their mindset about construction and agriculture work, which is often regarded as dirty, difficult and dangerous (3D).
Think about it. With house prices rocketing up each year, being able to build your own house – or at least save a significant amount of money on things you can do yourself – sounds like a pretty good idea. Construction may not be an appealing job to many, but it can be highly rewarding when you see the result of your blood, sweat and tears (quite literally).
Learning about the construction industry and what it entails, including design, manufacturing, technology, material and workmanship. Even if they do not end up being directly involved in the construction of buildings, the knowledge will come in handy when deciding to own homes. Besides that, it is hoped that the subject will spur interest towards the industry in the younger generation, and change their perspective on the topic. In fact, some might lead some youngsters to follow their passion in the field and explore opportunities in construction; not only in the brick-and-mortar sense of construction, but towards other avenues such as green technology for buildings, which can help reduce pollution and have a positive impact on the environment.
The construction industry is extremely vital to Malaysia’s growth; just take a look at all the projects popping up all over the country, especially in Klang Valley and Johor. This has also lead to increasing numbers of foreign workers employed to carry out construction work. Currently, there are over 2 million migrant workers legally employed in Malaysia. Getting locals to work in construction will not only help to reduce financial outflow and reliance on foreign labour, it will also lower the country’s unemployment rate and contribute to the country’s economy. Earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi challenged Malaysian youths to take up the “3D” jobs, arguing that if these jobs could be done by Malaysians, there is no need for the country to rely on foreign workers, including Bangladeshis.
However, some may point out that adding another subject to an already long list that secondary school students have to study would not benefit them, especially when subjects like Kemahiran Hidup (life skills) already aim to educate them on simple yet essential skills. Add to that the stress of important examinations such as SPM and STPM, upper seconday students would face more pressure and stress in their studies. It would also do little to dispell the stigma of working as a construction worker, which is often regarded as a lowly job with little pay and back-breaking work.
It would perhaps be more effective if Building Construction was added as an elective subject in secondary school education, or to form ‘Construction Clubs’ in schools and vocational colleges, which has already been done in several schools in Sabah with the help of CIDB. This way, students will be able to learn more about the construction industry through a shared interest and discussions with peers, and explore the various fields related to it.
What do you think: Should building construction be introduced as a subject for upper secondary school students in order to prepare them for the future, or will it place too much burden on students who are already stressed out by multiple subjects and examinations? Share with is your thoughts in the comment box below, or join the discussion on our Estate123 Facebook page!