24 Jun 2021

Education for Young Generations on Halal Food Audit and Certification: Challenges and Future Prospects

Though the global halal industry is growing, the industry is also facing some challenges. These challenges are almost common in all the segments of the halal industry except Islamic finance due to its different nature from other segments. Amidst that, there are challenges that are linked to the education on halal audit and certification processes and the ways of its provision to the youth.

 Lack of Academic Programs on the Halal Food Industry

There is a current phenomenon and a reality that the Islamic banking and finance industry has gained attraction at the global level. The global landscape of Islamic banking has been increasing and so has its asset size. Governments, regulators, corporations, businesses, researchers, and academia all have paid much attention to the Islamic banking and finance industry. This trend is common in all the countries with the exception of very few. The dilemma is that the same level of attention has not been paid to the other segments of the halal industry or halal. Relevant to our discussion on the challenge of education on halal food, there are very limited number of institutions that are providing mainstream education on halal food and its related areas. The following list provides the name of institutions offering some programs related to the halal industry.

This number is very small and one wonders whether these institutions or even the available programs are enough in catering to the needs of the halal industry. The reason behind fewer academic programs is a common misperception among academia that halal food or other segments are covered in the curricula of Islamic finance. A plethora of studies have claimed that among the major challenges that the global halal industry has been facing is the lack of a skilled and knowledgeable. On correlating the aforementioned two points, it is clear that the main reason behind not having sufficient number of skilled and knowledgeable people as halal workforce is because fewer institutions offer a very limited number of courses.

For halal certification, in addition to the authorities in different countries, such as Malaysia and Pakistan, there must be competent and certified halal executives and committee members. This creates a tremendous need for halal education. Educational institutions in Islamic countries have a role to play; they have to start and launch the degree’s program and specialization in halal education exclusively. Government authorities have to add educational content related to halal food audit and certification to the primary grade curriculum, middle, matriculation, and higher, until specialization.

E-learning could be an alternative to compensate and improve the learning and skills of staff and professionals of the global halal industry. There are some platforms that provide and offer e-learning courses about halal education and halal training for the students, staff, and professionals of the global halal industry. These platforms should revisit their e-learning courses and need to redesign them under the supervision of experts from academia and industry to fulfill the need of a highly skilled workforce in the global halal industry.

Lack of Training of Staff at the Workplace

Training is defined as an organized and systematic way of affecting and influencing individuals’ knowledge and skills, the improvement of which can lead to a good team and finally result in the enhancement of an organization’s effectiveness. In an organization, business, or in an industry, talented, skilled, and trained workforce play a significant role in boosting the performance of that organization, business, and industry. Research shows that there is a positive relationship between the training of employees and staff and their performance within an organization. In the present competitive market, industries and organizations see each other as rivals. So, the trained and skilled workforce keep the organization in the competition with the assurance that the organization is sustainable. Training is important for all types of organizations and workforce in every industry.

It is very important that an emerging industry recruits skilled and trained workforce. The global halal industry is emerging and growing at an exponential rate. All industries must follow conventional regulations mandated by the authorities. The halal industry subscribes to Islamic laws of halal and haram that set it apart from other industries. So, training employees and workforce on halal and haram is crucial.

The players in the global halal industry must be aware of the importance of halal training. Providing employees and staff with adequate halal training is indispensable to remain competitive. Consumers are likely to trust an organization that ensures that its staff are halal-trained. Due to halal training, the staff can improve their skills and they may also prove to be very efficient at the workplace.

Many conventional food and beverages and tourism agencies, companies, and associations also offer halal food and beverages, and other facilities like halal tourism attract young Muslim consumers and travelers. It is mandatory that these agencies, companies, and associations employ adequately halal-trained staff. As conventional firms understand the value of halal training, they have also started training their staff on all things halal. Halal training is also important for the workforce in the halal industry in terms of them being sure whether products and services are of halal or haram origin. The halal logo authenticates products and ensures the satisfaction of Muslim consumers. In conformity with the shari’ah, the halal processes and practices are directly linked to Islamic teachings, beliefs, and sentiments. It is therefore imperative that the workforce of the global halal industry have adequate and proper halal training.

Manipulation of the Halal Logo by Manufacturers

Manufacturers are almost always interested in gaining the trust of new customers and generating more profit as well. The decision of customers in the selection of a product from a manufacturer depends upon the quality, price, branding of the products, and in the case of food, the taste as well, the packaging, and origin of products. According to Maison et al., the halal logo or label has a tremendous influence on the decision-making skills of Muslim consumers in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. At times, some manufacturers can, and do, manipulate this behavior of Muslim consumers by using the halal label on non-halal products. Much evidence of scandals, involving the adulteration of halal products and the misuse of the halal label on meat sold by some famous brands in Europe and some Muslim countries, has created serious hurdles for halal certification bodies and halal auditing and supervisory authorities.

The denial of halal standards by manufacturers leaves a great impact on the satisfaction level of Muslim consumers and indirectly hampers the growth of the industry as well. Young consumers do care about their beliefs and when they encounter scandals about the misuse of the halal logo, which directly hurts their religious sentiments, they start raising concerns over the performance and authenticity of halal certification bodies.

The Lack of Collaboration and Interoperability among Halal Certification Bodies

The lack of collaboration among the world’s halal certification bodies and authorities has created “doubts” in the minds of Muslim consumers on the authenticity of the halal certification process. Lack of formalized halal guidelines is one of the major issues and acts as a constant threat to the halal industry including halal logistics. The absence of a worldwide halal certification such as a universal halal logo will result in greater difficulties in keeping up halal integrity throughout the supply chain. Momentarily, there are more than 60 halal certifying bodies comprising governments, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, local mosques, or Islamic societies that have claimed that the issues related with halal packaging are halal certification on the packaging, handling methods of halal products, and packaging traceability. Halal logo on the packaging is important since it not only imports that the product is halal, but it also indicates that the product is safe, clean, and not harmful or haram for consumption.

Standardization of the laws, principles, and regulation of halal certification is closely related to the education on halal food audit and certification, in the sense that, in the absence of uniformity, it would be difficult for a learner or student of halal certification to understand all the principles and regulations that are implemented in different countries. In contrast, in the presence of uniform standards, it would be easier for students, teachers, researchers, even industry personnel to gain a better understanding of halal standards.

Limited Knowledgeable Workforce in the Halal Industry

One of the crucial problems that could hamper the growth of the halal industry is the shortage of manpower and skilled workers. The duns numbers for halal products are very high and keep on increasing day by day, but the number of halal-certified companies or companies applying for halal certification is relatively less than the whole market share. The demand for capable halal workforce has doubled, so these changes require a well-informed halal workforce. Training and educating people on halal take time. Drastic changes have devastated the supply side of the workforce by the sudden demands for halal-competent personnel, which has resulted in the need for urgent technical expertise. Khan  enumerates that “the major challenge faced by the halal industry in different countries including Malaysia is the shortage of knowledgeable workforce that understands the Shariah requirements and implementing Shariah knowledge into actual industrial practice”. Further, there are very few accomplished halal consultants, and their skills and aptitudes of others who call themselves halal personnel are questionable due to inadequate standard criteria. However, the human capital in Malaysia is ready for the halal industry’s rapid expansion, specifically the management, executives, the active workforce in manufacturing and services companies, halal authorities and agencies, establishments of higher learning in implementing halal and shari’ah principles for halal businesses, services, and industries.

The halal industry in Malaysia wants halal-certified operations managers to be readily available for the job market with knowledge in Shari’ah and Islamic principles appertaining to halal management and to possess technical business knowledge in managing sourcing, production, and manufacturing, products and services, purchasing, store, and inventory and those who are pertinent in business and operations. Even so, in positing evidence on the lack of awareness on halal concepts and compassionate choice of the ingredients, sources, processing, and storage between halal players in Malaysia, and on even recreating awareness on the halal way of life among Muslims, Malaysians were relatively less aware as compared with Thailand and Indonesia due to a lack of knowledge and information on the halal logo and halal administrative matters. Some researchers also shared the same findings, adding to the debilitation on the implementation of halal certification and logo and the lack of attitude and sensitivity based on the Halal Sensitivity Index.

– by Hadia Saqib Hashmi

Research Associate – ICRIE