Unleashing that potential

Car Mechanic

Bermaz Auto Berhad – a big name in Mazda, Peugeot and Kia parts and sales in Malaysia – has been working with the IMI to upskill staff and take the business forward

When a company has a clear vision of how it wants to operate, how it wants to treat its customers and how it wants to grow, achieving that vision is naturally reliant on the skills of its employees.

So when Bermaz Auto Berhad set out to become Malaysia’s automotive distributor of choice, it needed to take a long, hard look at how it trains its staff.

“We basically needed to be customer focused and ensure that customer engagement resulted in a good experience when dealing with us,” says Dato’ Sri Ben Yeoh, Executive Chairman of Bermaz Auto Berhad.

Back in 2010, Yeoh and the senior management team were honest about what they needed to do. First things first, the organisation had to commit to both developing the right training programmes and then making sure that staff can never fall behind in their skills development.

“That was the starting point for our training and development programme,” says Yeoh. “The objective was to train our people up to meet the ever-increasing demands and expectations from our customers. And secondly, we wanted to remain relevant in this disruptive and competitive industry.”

That’s where the IMI came in.

Searching for the right partner

“We began to seek and source some professional assistance to help us develop an in-house training programme. That was the beginning of our association with the IMI,” explains Yeoh.

The relationship began with an aftersales technical programme. Work then began to establish an apprenticeship scheme for high-school graduates interested in a career in the automotive industry. This was then followed up with programmes for university graduates.

The three-year programme, for example, ensures that learners are exposed to every aspect of the automotive retail business.

“The continuous interest in our programmes has encouraged us to start a formal training school for young people interested in a career in the auto industry,” says Yeoh. “The BAuto Training Centre was established to facilitate this need. The school is accredited by government agencies, the IMI, some principal manufacturers and insurance companies.”

The training programmes have been incredibly successful since the idea was first formulated a decade ago. Formal courses in automotive mechanics, automotive body and paint, and a diploma in retail management are now certified by the Malaysian government and accredited by the IMI, meaning they provide top-quality resources for people taking their first steps into the industry.

No stopping now...

As in the rest of the world, the arrival of COVID-19 halted face-to-face learning in Malaysia – but it didn’t deter apprentices or trainers at Bermaz Auto Berhad. The team continued to engage with the IMI via remote verification for the external quality assurance process, while implementing IMI modules via online sessions using Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex. It meant that there was only a stutter in the learning process rather than a complete stop, so students could continue to develop their skills.

It doesn’t stop there either. As the industry moves forward and new technologies come to market, Bermaz Auto Berhad now wants to continue to innovate and introduce the latest training methods. “Next-generation vehicles will take the industry to the next level of skill development,” says Yeoh. “It means a new skillset is needed, and mechanical and electrical courses now form part of the training modules we’re offering. Electrification, high levels of connectivity, and autonomous safety features developed through the Internet of Things all call for continuous upskilling.”

It means that Yeoh and the senior management team at Bermaz Auto Berhad will continue to look for ways to improve the training they provide. “We’ll continue to search for tools to upskill our resources, company-wide, with more in-house courses working with manufacturers and software providers to continuously develop and improve the skill levels of our employees,” says Yeoh.

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?