KUALA LUMPUR: The improved National Service Training Programme (PLKN) has kicked off with a focus on equipping trainees with job skills that could help them in the real world in future.
Relaunched as PLKN 2.0 after a one-year hiatus, the programme, which first started in 2004, boasts an upgraded set of modules that are relevant for the future of trainees.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the programme had been revamped to make it more streamlined.
"The programme is now split into two phases with the first and mandatory phase lasting only eight weeks compared to the previous 12 weeks," he said at the programme's launch outside KLCC yesterday.
He was accompanied by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Hishammuddin said in the first phase, trainees would go through eight modules that promote unity and provide them with life skills.
Hishammuddin said that after the first phase, the trainees would be given the option to continue into phase two that focuses on technical job skills.
"These include courses in automotive, hotel and tourism, transportation and logistics, construction, agriculture and manufacturing.
"Depending on the courses selected, the second phase can take three to 24 months to complete," he said.
Hishammuddin said the second phase is important as it helps youth, who do not have the opportunity to go to university, to chart a better future.
He said the pilot for PLKN 2.0, which was held between September and October last year, showed encouraging results with 108 trainees opting to advance to phase two.
Other improvements in the upgraded programme are smaller classrooms and a more integrated teaching approach.
Hishammuddin said there was an overwhelming number of applications for PLKN 2.0 this year, which were voluntary, with 66,000 applicants jostling for 20,000 spots.
"We are only able to accommodate that many because of the current economic climate," he said.
He hoped that of the 20,000 trainees, 80 per cent would go on to the second phase.
The current intake of trainees began the programme on March 26.