Henry replying to a question from Zaiedi.

KUCHING: The Furniture Industry Technology Centre (Fitec) under Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) is planning several initiatives involving Sarawak youth under Bumiputera Workforce Skill Development next year, said Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk Henry Sum Agong.

The initiatives, he explained, included the Furniture Skill and Employability Training Scheme (Furnsets).

“Through this programme, youth will be trained to master skills in manufacturing furniture upholstery and panels to fulfil the job market in the furniture industry while also increasing their marketability to get better jobs,” he said in reply to a question from Senator Dr Zaiedi Suhaili in the Dewan Negara session on Monday (Sept 7).

Henry said the Profession Furniture Industrial Training Skill (Profits) programme also aimed to train youth in the country to become skilled workers in the operation of high-tech furniture machines.

He explained that the role of Mara in designing furniture industry skills training courses could be identified under Mara TVET Institution, namely GiatMara, Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM) and Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara (KKTM).

“Fifty-two trainees from Sarawak have been trained and given skills in the furniture sector since 2008 through the Certificate in Furniture Design and Manufacturing Technology programme,” he said.

Henry added that 88 furniture entrepreneurs from Sarawak had participated in the Fitec Furniture Training Programme.

“These programmes are implemented through the cooperation of several institutions in Sarawak, including the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) and Persatuan Pengusaha Perabot Bumiputera Sarawak (Perbumi),” he said.

In reply to Zaiedi’s additional question on the extent to which Fitec Furniture Testing Centre (FFTC) helped entrepreneurs to produce quality furniture, Henry said that testing was conducted on furniture such as chairs, tables, cupboards, and more based on international furniture testing standards such as MS standard (Malaysia), BS standard (British), and other standards required by the customer.

He said that the main purpose of furniture testing was to obtain a passing test certificate in order to fulfil the requirements of buyers, either from government departments or for export purposes.

“Fitec has also organised training programmes for furniture entrepreneurs to produce quality furniture based on the MS ISO/IEC 17025 quality system and exposure to international standard requirements.

“In 2019, four training programmes were held involving 40 participants while one training programme involving 10 participants was organised this year,” he said.

Henry added that on Aug 27, Fitec talked to SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd about increasing the furniture produced by local furniture manufacturers for the local and export markets, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed in the near future.