YOUNG researchers in higher educational institutions in Malaysia should possess the drive to involve actively in research activities. The efforts should be done continuously and rigorously since involvement in research is one of the contributions of higher educational institutions to the society. However, strong support needs to be given to young researchers in Malaysia.

Thus, to excel in research, young researchers should be provided with support in order for them to remain motivated and committed to the responsibilities assigned. Undoubtedly, continuous involvement in research activities among young researchers will fulfil the expectations set by stakeholders in which university lecturers are regarded as agents of change. Investment in human capital has been proven as one of the factors of success among established brands in the market today.

For example, Howard Shultz, former CEO of Starbucks highlighted that, "We've built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with consumers. Because we believe the best way to meet and exceed our customers' expectations is to recruit and train great people, we invest in hiring”. In addition, AirAsia founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes stressed that “Employees come number one, customers come number two. If you have a happy workforce, they will take care of your customers and institution.”

Great universities around the world possess an environment which fosters competitiveness, continuous scientific research activities, critical thinking, innovation and creativity. Accordingly, young researchers need to be provided with supportive human resource environment (role-model), appropriate financial and logistical resources.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has introduced UTMShine initiative with the mission to empower and inspire UTM's top young scientists and researchers. It is one of the strategies introduced by Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) to motivate young researchers in UTM in conducting high -impact research and producing high quality research output. UTMShine recipients will be awarded with research grants and this initiative is eligible for lecturers who are less than 40 years old.

In order to enhance their competency as researchers and lecturers, UTMshine recipients will not only focus on the output of their research grants, the young scientists are expected to be involved in other forms of activities deemed appropriate by the UTMShine selection committee. In addition, UTMShine recipients will get the opportunities to undergo leadership training programs. Currently, several UTM young researchers have been appointed as liaison officers to coordinate projects, resolve issues and needs of the community, local authorities and industries.

In addition to UTMShine, UTM Academic Leadership Center (UTMLead) has also launched a mentor-mentee program. One of the goals of this program is to assist new researchers to apply for professional qualifications. It is hoped that this program will help to increase the percentage of UTM researchers who are professionally qualified in their fields of expertise. Each mentor selected by the faculty and appointed by UTMLead will mentor several mentees.

Throughout the mentoring program, it hoped that the mentors will inspire young researchers to excel in every aspect of their professional development. UTM also requires young researchers to undergo professional training (LI) in certain agencies or industries. Professional training programs will enable lecturers to possess professional qualifications, gain work experience, increase external recognition to UTM and develop networking with industries.

Another professional development program introduced by UTM is M4E-Mentoring For Excellence. This program is a structured mentor-mentee program which aims to provide guidance to young researchers in terms of institutional leadership, teaching & learning, research & innovation and professional practice. The program will also assist in the development talent among young researcher .

In this regard, UTMLead continues to play a role in providing quality training programs for UTM young researchers. UTMLead’s role is to shape and develop academic leadership to ensure continuous excellence. UTMLead also develops potential of current leaders by enriching them with new and up-to-date knowledge. The center also trains young academicians to participate in CEO@Faculty program. The CEO@Faculty program is an initiative under Leap 2 (Talent Excellence) of Malaysian Education Development Plan 2015-2025 (Higher Education).

In today’s challenging situation, young researchers need to be prepared to unlearn and relearn. Therefore, they cannot be complacent and comfortable with their current accomplishments. The thoughts of relying on funding from universities and government only should be eradicated since this kind of funding is limited.

Thus, they need to possess the drive to outsource from other means such as industries, non governmental bodies either locally or abroad. In order to obtain new opportunites, young researchers need to embark in new skills and new ways of doing things which suit the demand and expectations of various grant providers. As an example, engineering reseachers may need to incorporate social science values and skills in an attempt to secure grants which involve societies.

As a conclusion, higher educational institutions need to provide continuous professional development programs among young talents in research and academia. Universities need the young talents to excel in their career as to ensure the existence of universities bring impact to the societies.

* Associate Professor Dr Abdul Halim Abdullah is Deputy Director (Strategic & Research University), Research Management Centre (RMC), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

**The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.