Launched by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed at the Semicon Southeast Asia 2015 microelectronics exhibition at the Spice Arena in Bayan Lepas, Penang, this is the first IAC to take off under Budget 2015.
“This isn’t our first time working with TalentCorp [but it’s been] mostly on an ad hoc basis. What we are doing now is creating a strong marriage, a structured approach, to address human capital challenges and fill the gaps in the E&E sector,” said Mustapa.
While noting the existence of other collaborative initiatives to address the needs of the E&E sector — such as Crest launched in 2012 — Mustapa hopes the IAC can be another example of how close collaboration between industries and universities can result in university curriculum enrichment to enhance graduate employability.
Such collaborations will include short courses, electives, final-year projects, adjunct lecturers and sabbaticals in the industry. They are expected to commence this year.
“There’s been a lot of industry engagement with respect to [university] curriculum development. The feedback we get is that Malaysia is strong in hardware, like machines and automation, but when it comes to software, there are a few gaps to be filled,” said Mustapa. “The priority is to further improve soft infrastructure, and this is where collaboration between the industry and academia is very important.”
The IAC partnership follows the launch of Malaysia’s National Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025 in early April, and is in line to equip Malaysian graduates with skills for high-income career paths. At the moment, an estimated 53,000 Malaysian graduates remain unemployed after six months of graduating.
This collaboration also comes at a crucial time. A World Bank report finds that 62% of Malaysian firms face difficulty finding talent with the right skills, while 48% of companies identify a lack of talent as a constraint for future growth.
“This [partnership] is about producing the right supply of graduates, and the most sustainable talent supply is our local pool of universities,” said Johan Mahmood Merican, chief executive officer of TalentCorp.
“This ensures that we have industry-ready-quality graduates for the growth of the sector — for all the priority clusters of the electronics sector.”
The IAC initiative will be introduced to other priority industries besides the E&E sector. These include machinery and equipment or advanced engineering, medical devices, oil and gas, transport — including automotive, aviation and maritime, chemical and petrochemical, health care and communications, content and infrastructure.
The E&E sector is one of Malaysia’s 12 National Key Economic Areas. In 2013, Mida estimated it accounted for 32.8% of Malaysia’s exports and 27.2% of total employment. Almost half of Malaysia’s manufactured exports in 2014 — RM231.2 billion — were E&E exports.
On a separate note, Mustapa added that the event is the first Semicon microelectronics exhibition held outside Singapore.
“This is a success for Malaysia. We’re a major player in testing and packaging, 20% of the world’s market. The organisation of the event in Penang shows confidence in Malaysia as far as testing and packaging are concerned ... in promoting not only E&E but also manufacturing.”
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 23, 2015.
The Edge Financial Daily