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Pekerja Mahir

Posted by mynormas on September 7, 2015

In my experience and from what I’ve seen; very few Malaysian golf course staff are actually formally trained. I define ‘formally trained’ as a period of time be it 10 minutes or 10 days or more where a staff is taught on what he does, where he does it, why and the machinery by a qualified or suitably experienced staff.

More often than not, a staff that stands out will be selected to operate a small machine, fo example, a bunker rake or a mini tractor. He would then gradually be told to use a bigger machine over time. This actually is good practice, except for the fact that for some of them, this would be the first machine (and for some foreign workers, they have never operatted a motorbike before) they have ever used.

How does he learn how to operate the machines? An operator who has previously operated the machine. Nothing wrong with that. Except that the same thing happened with that operator too a few years ago (sometimes a few weeks ago).

So he does not know about safety protocols whether about the machine or the areas he will be mowing. He is ignorant about machinery maintenance and the finer points of mowing. Not for long of course, remember the staff member selected is usually relatively the brightest of them there and so he does not take long to adapt and to learn from his mistakes. Yet I still see ‘experienced’ operators that mow muddy fairways, making a bad situation worse. Ok maybe that is not bad training per se but also shows a lack of common sense and/or a bad attitude.

20, 15 years ago I used to hire staff from the agriculture institute of Malaysia or IPM where they graduated with a certificate in agriculture. This used to be a three-year course where they learnt about plants agronomy, nutrition and also agriculture machinery and engines. The best part is that they are able to operate a tractor and change a tractor’s implements. It may not be that much relevant on a golf course but by the time they are on my golf course, the bunker rake is not the first machine they operate. Get it?

Unfortunately, by now their sylllabus has been changed to a two year course with the final semester being ‘practical training’ off-campus. The syllabus is now more modern with enterpreneurial and computer skils added. Good for them, but of not much use for me.

In a recent talk I gave to a group of people interested in setting up a training facility, I outlined the importance of skilled workers in the field mantenance industry (note I did not say ‘golf course maintenance industry’) where the best reason is that there is a better possibility of improving the golf course quality with skilled workers. The least important reason, I suppose, is reducing the number of foreign workers in Malaysia.

However, there are hindrances that I foresee. Big hindrances. This project of training skilled workers will not work if the employers; the golf courses, the fields, the contractors are not supportive of it. There will be plenty of reasons or excuses; those can be overcome. High turnover, high mobility, cannot work hard (read: cannot work long hours), unreliable etc, can be overcome. What will be more difficult is overcoming the notion that field maintenance is just ‘cutting grass’.

Its hard enough convincing club owners to improve the pay scale for golf course superintendents and/or hire better quality people to justify the better pay scale. It would be harder, I imagine, to convince them to hire skilled field workers AND to introduce a career path for the said workers.

But I have seen it work and the people that want to do this may have some ideas of their own to do this; retraining existing workers, for example. I wish them luck. At least some one is doing something different other than hiring more foreign workers at a problem. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity” Remember? That Einstein guy’s quote?



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