The production of national cars not only aims to expand the country’s manufacturing industry, but also represents a way to train workers in the automotive sector and grow the skilled workforce, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said at the dialogue session with Educational and Technical and Vocational Training Conference (TVET) held yesterday, Bernama reported.

“Now we know how to make a car and when we (came to) know how to design and produce cars, we also learnt on the engineering involved. We have learnt many things out of just one industry,” he said in response to a question by the Institute of Automotive, Robotic and Internet of Things Malaysia (MARii) CEO Datuk Madani Sahari.

Madani’s question was regarding TVET as an effective method in closing the gap between workers’ skills and the needs of the industry. “Now we not only (produce) cars but we oversee the engine or robot that (produce) the cars, so how we supervise these machines is also a skill needed to manufacture cars in this era,” Tun Mahathir said.

Players in the automotive industry must always enhance their capacities in line with the sophistication of current vehicle technologies, Tun Mahathir said, adding that the manufacture of cars currently are far more complex than that of the first national car, the Proton Saga.

Tun Mahathir noted that other industries such as aerospace also required many skilled workers as they were among the biggest industries producing components in Malaysia, with the country producing aircraft components for Airbus and Boeing, the report said.

“I am confident that Malaysians are no less qualified than the other nationalities, the question is whether they want it or not. If we don’t want to learn, we will be left behind,” the prime minister said.