Special to the News
Four disability management professionals from Malaysia spent a full week at the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences (PCU-WHS) campus in Port Alberni last month, where they underwent advanced instructor training through the National Institute of Disability Management and Research.
The four students are with PERKESO, the Malaysian Social Security Organization. The South Asian country, which has a population of just over 28 million people, has adopted the NIDMAR education and certification curriculum with a goal to certify instructors to deliver the courses in their home regions, to further professionalize the PERKESO workforce.
“We’re concentrating on five key modules, and we will be following up online,” NIDMAR instructor Dr. Donal McAnaney said. “Now that we know each other’s faces, it will be a lot easier.”
As a former British colony, Malaysia has retained English as a working language, which has made face-to-face instruction possible.
McAnaney added that, due to differences in policies and practices in different jurisdictions worldwide, the new instructors have a mandate to adapt the modules to fit Malaysian laws and regulations.
During their visit to PCU, the students broke into two groups for some field study, with Ooi Han (Lawrence) Sang and Nural (Nadia) Arif visiting the No. 5 paper machine at Catalyst Paper, where they performed a job demanding analysis on the “fifth hand” position.
At Western Forest Products’ Somass Division, Mohd Shakir Mohd Saad and Nazatul Akma did a similar analysis of a working millwright. What are the primary duties? What are the primary physical demands?
The analysis also includes psychological and cognitive demands: degree of supervision, deadline pressures, and responsibilities. For the disability manager, it is critical to have the complete picture when dealing with a sick or injured worker, in order to get them back into the workforce in an appropriate manner.
Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser also met with the students during their visit.
“It’s wonderful that Malaysia is taking a lead in disability management,” Fraser said.
“You’re ahead of the province of B.C. I’m trying to push our government to adopt, as Malaysia has, these standards and practices in our own jurisdiction. We will try to follow your lead.”
It has been a time of exciting advances for PCU-WHS, which in August received its long-awaited degree-granting status.
And on Sept. 12, Board of Governors member, Dr. Joachim Breuer, delivered the keynote address at the International Rehabilitation Congress in Beijing, to launch the implementation by China of the NIDMAR education and certification curriculum.
Breuer, who is CEO of the German worker’s compensation system, signed the agreement on behalf of NIDMAR in Beijing in June 2012.
PCU-WHS president Wolfgang Zimmermann said he is hoping the Malaysian visit marks the beginning of a new trend.
“This is a huge economic opportunity,” he said. “Hopefully, we will see more and more international delegations coming to the Alberni Valley.”
And thanks to the success of the program in Malaysia, other South Asian countries are now looking to Port Alberni for improvements to their social security systems.
“As a result of Malaysia having picked us up, we’ve had interest from Indonesia, which is now evaluating our education and certification programs,” Zimmermann said.