A Worker Shortage Pinches Penang...So It's Time For A Skills Upgrade

Nestled among the glistening megaplants of Seagate Technology, Intel, and Motorola, the enormous new factory of Dell Computer seems another paragon of prosperity in the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone near George Town, capital of the Malaysian province of Penang. Across the grounds, dozens of young female workers dressed in floral dresses and Muslim shawls stream into the plant. But the more you understand about the challenges facing Penang, the more daunting appear the tasks that Dell took on last year when it chose this tropical electronics hotbed for a $20 million facility that will be its PC manufacturing, telemarketing, and servicing base for all of Asia.

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