Over 150 youths representing various local institutes of higher learning, as well as the government and private sector attended the Pertandingan Kemahiran Malaysia Ke-20 – Sektor Teknologi Automobil (pra kelayakan) last weekend in Alor Setar, Kedah. The skills competition was co-organised by the Human Resource Ministry and national carmaker Proton, which is also the event’s main sponsor.

Besides the above mentioned Automotive Technology main category, which is open to youths aged 22 years or below, other categories include Pertandingan Kemahiran Proton (for Proton technicians/mechanics), Pertandingan Kemahiran Peringkat Terbuka (for coaches/trainers in vocational and technical institutes) and Pertandingan Kemahiran MySkills (for teachers and coaches).

The winner of the finals will receive RM5,000 in cash as well as medal and certificate, but the bigger prize could be being in the running to represent Malaysia in the ASEAN and international stage of the competition.

The brainchild of ex-PM and Proton adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, Pertandingan Kemahiran Malaysia is a government initiative that aims to sharpen and bring forward the talent of youths in vocational and technical studies. It focuses on 21 skills that involve seven main industries: automotive, construction, manufacturing, ICT, hospitality, cosmetology and wood/handicrafts.

Proton’s involvement in this competition started in 2003 when the automotive category was introduced. As part of its contribution to this year’s edition, Proton set up a showcase of vehicles created in house by its employees in an innovation competition. Some of the modified cars were also shown at KLIMS 2010. There was also a recruitment drive for youths interested in joining the automotive industry.

Those who attended the carnival at the Stadium Darul Aman car park also got to enjoy a drift demo by sideways king Tengku Djan, who is also R3 head, motorcycle shows and performances by local artistes.