Malaysia has been one of the top-performing economies within the ASEAN group for many years now. The last couple of years puts the country as one of the star performers in not just Southeast Asia but also across Asia in terms of GDP growth. But as Industry 4.0 slowly redefines the nature of work and how businesses operate, Malaysian companies find themselves in the need to adapt. By adopting the latest offering of digital technologies like AI, automation, etc, many today stand the chance the create more customer value and better revenue streams, thus pushing the country’s overall performance even more. That is if the country’s working population can find the right means to build skills that are in need today.
Like many countries waking to the opportunities of digital tech, Malaysia to faces a critical challenge in front of it; the challenge of addressing skill-building needs and ensuring Malaysian can find the right jobs. With the shelf life of digital skills being relatively shorter, it is a must for both companies and public sector endeavors to address the problem of skilling
Industry 4.0 has begun entered the business lexicon with a fervor of its own. Many companies use it to address the incoming business changes that are reshaping business processes and shifting the skills that such companies deem important. This is not only in relation to technical skills but the need for ‘soft skills’ like creative, high-stress thinking, and agile adaptability that all are becoming important skills because of changes that comprise Industry 4.0. The idea behind it is the that current changes affecting companies are the same scale as an industrial revolution, 4 being the fourth of its kind. But what is more important than terms is the meaning they signify, And this case how effectively can candidate understand what it means to be employable in such conditions.
According to a study by INTI International University & Colleges (INTI) and International Data Corporation (IDC), this might not be the case as findings of the report shows how many are yet to truly grasp what Industry 4.0 translates into. While over 63 percent of students and graduates in Malaysia were unable to articulate what Industrial Revolution 4.0 entailed, over 54 percent of parents too remained oblivious to the changing markets impact on the future of work.
Of those that knew, the report highlighted that over 30 percent of students believed they were completely unprepared for what the report called ‘an IR 4.0 enabled workplace’. This included both a proficiency of technical skills needed to work alongside the innovative advancements and other soft skills that help them remain productive in today’s workplace.
Close to one third or over 28 percent of those surveyed said that their academic experience at university was the only exposure they were receiving about IR 4.0 and that they had not undertaken any other training or work experiences to enhance their understanding. As many who surveyed lacked a clear definition and ability to discuss IR 4.0 and why it was relevant to organizational transformation, the concern of those passing out of academic institutions might not be ready for a future dominated by changes brought in by Industry 4.0. But this is not to say that such a concern has gone unnoticed.
"The Industrial Revolution 4.0 will take the emphasis away from demographic quantity to demographic quality. Hence, a sustainable pipeline of 'plugged in', technologically savvy talent will be the key determinant of success in the modern global marketplace” said Datuk Seri Rahman Dahlan, a Minister in the Prime Minister's department in the keynote address for the "Future of Work, Workplace, Workforce Conference" a few years ago.
"Yes, Malaysia has made considerable progress in leveraging our demographic dividend to spur increased productivity. However, there is no time for complacency - not if we intend to become a top 20 countries in the world by 2050," he added.
Besides, many recognize that they lack the necessary soft skills to find gainful employment and most of their academic courses aren’t preparing them for the future. This according to a recent report on employability of educated candidates, titled School-To-Work Transition of Young Malaysians, that highlights many who are joining the workforce find themselves inadequately prepared.
Skills mismatch vis-à-vis what companies look for today might prove to be a big challenge within the Malaysian jobs sector. Overall salaries too have been noted to fall lack of skilled workers influences the jobs market. An annual report compiled by the Malaysian central bank showed a decline in salaries for fresh graduates in the country. Despite the proportion of graduates in the labor force increased from 23.5 percent in 2010 to 28.3 percent in 2017, the real starting monthly salaries for most fresh graduates have declined since 2010.