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CLWR 7th Anrmal Inter!lational

Confert!l1~e

on P?st-compulsory Edllc(ltion lind Training, 1999

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WORKPLACE LEARNING AND JOB SATISFACTION IN SMALL TO MID .. SIZED BUSINESSES IN MALAYSIA Robert W. Rowden & Mercer University-Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia USA Shams uddin Ahmad Universiti Putra Malaysia Serdang, Malaysia

Studies of workplace learning tend tofocus on largefirms even though small businesses constitute 98 percent of u.s. firms. Recent studies have found evidence of extensive HRD in small businesses. Other recent studies found a higher level of job satisfaction among employees of small firms than employees of larger firms. This study measured the nature and extent of HRD; the level ofjob satisfaction among workers; and determined the correlation between workplace learning activities and job satisfaction in small to mid-sized businesses. This study is also looking at cross-country comparisons and .implications with Australia.

Malaysia is a resource rich country and a major socio-economic force in the AsiaPacific region. Historically, the economy of Malaysia was based on agriculture and natural resources. Over the past 25 years, the pace of development of the Malaysian economy has been rapid. Throughout the 1980s and early 90s, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.8 per cent. Strong growth in public investment and exports during this period stimulated domestic demand and contributed to a consistent rise in income and employment. But the Asian economic recession of the late 1990s and the severe worsening of !v1alaysia's external terms of trade led to a general slow-down in the growth performance. Various adjustment measures were used by the Government to restore balance and stability. The economy now appears to be emerging from the recession and recording GDP growth rates around 4 per cent per annum (Lucas & Verry 1999). In its efforts to transform Malaysia to a dev~loped and industrialized country, the Government began to focus on developing human resources. In recognizing the need for training government employees and to set an example for business and industry the National Institute of Public Administration, Malaysia (INT AN) was established in 1972. To further encourage and stimulate the private sector to introduce training and development for its employees, the Malaysian Legislature passed an Act of Parliament entitled Human Resource Development Act 1992. This legislation requires a manufacturing company which has more than fifty employees to contribute one per cent of its monthly payroll to a fund which would then be used to promote training (Y ong 1996). Wan (1994) reports that until these relatively recent undertakings "enterprise training in Malaysia received little attention from policy makers. Even now not much is known about it, despite the fact it is one of the most important sources of job-specific skill development" (p. 58). In fact, Chalkley (1991) reports that the realization of the importance of training is a recent concept in Asia. The companies tackling such problems represent the exception rather than the norm. On average, companies in Malaysia and Indonesia undertake more training days than their counterparts in Singapore and Hong Kong, but spend less. This is because management training receives greater emphasis in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore, while in Volume 4 Page 127

CLWR 7th Annual International Conference on Post-compulsory Education and Training, 1999

Malaysia there is a greater emphasis on skills training, which is generally cheaper to organize. The estimates are that Malaysia spends an average of US$200 on training per employee per year. By comparison, British firms invest approximately US$5,000 annually per employee and Germany invests an average of US$7,500 annually per employee. U. S. firms invest, on average, US$l ,800 per year per employee in training and development, or by another estimate a total of US$60.7 billion a...
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