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(File pix) The MOU signatories with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (fifth from left) and Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Ghazali Abas (fourth from left). Pix by NSTP/Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PETRONAS Dagangan Bhd (PDB) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with five local universities to develop varsity students’ capabilities and entrepreneurial skills, as well as foster start-up businesses among young people.

The universities are Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP).

Speaking at the ceremony, PDB managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the signing of the MoUs signifies the company’s commitment to develop capabilities among undergraduates.

“We want to play a more proactive role in equipping them with industry know-how so that they can transition to the working world seamlessly.

“We also encourage students to come up with innovative start-up businesses. We will support them in terms of guidance and facilities.”

Some of the ideas in discussion include developing new Petronas stations near the universities to be partially managed by the varsities.

Universities will also be able to utilise the station’s space to run businesses, such as cafe, food truck, salons, laundry or clothing outlets, that will help generate additional income and equip students with business skills.

Students will be given the opportunity to learn how to manage a petrol station under PDB’s entrepreneurship programme.

Plans include creating innovation and entrepreneur hubs at these stations where they will serve as co-working space and start-up incubators for students, lecturers and customers to discuss business opportunities.

PDB will also co-create modules with the universities targeted at upskilling crew of Petronas stations.

“We see this as a win-win partnership where we work together with young talent to create innovations for the petrol retail business and at the same time, provide them with a conducive platform to enhance their entrepreneurial skill and marketability leveraging our infrastructure and expertise,” said Syed Zainal.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said: “This partnership will give rise to development of start-ups, which will contribute to the growth of digital economy.

“I understand that the programme will involve more universities soon. I hope Petronas can include reading corners in the petrol stations to cultivate reading habit.”

PDB will work closely with the universities to develop a more detailed plan and aim to kick off its initiative within the first year.

Representing their respective universities were UTM Vice-Chancellor Professor Datuk Wahid Omar, UITM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (academic and international) Professor Dr Mohammad Kamal Haron, UTAR president and chief executive officer Professor Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik, UPM Holdings Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar and UTP Vice-Chancellor ProfessorDr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib.

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