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Are Malaysians Ready for Future Jobs?

MIDA Insights - Highlights

Sept - H2

Malaysia’s industrialisation has shifted from job creation to becoming a developed nation by 2020. From 2006 to 2018, the government has approved  more than 64,000 projects in various economic sectors with investment valued at RM2.2 trillion. These projects have created over 2 million job opportunities. Today, Malaysia has become one of the largest exporters in semiconductor devices, palm oil and furniture, and home to more than 5,000 multinational corporations.

Pro-business government and cultural diversity are among  the critical factors in making Malaysia an attractive investment destination in Asia.

In realising that human capital  is one of the essential components for the industry, the government rolled out the first National Science and Technology Enrollment Policy of 60:40 since the 1970’s, which highlights the target in having 60% of students focusing on science and 40% enrolling in arts.

To date, over 1,400 technical and vocational colleges (TVET) have been established under different ministries to support the development of the industry  in Malaysia. The government in its National Workforce Human Capital Blueprint has forecasted that Malaysia requires 35% skilled workforce by 2020.

Despite the government’s intense efforts in encouraging higher participation in TVET, students in the country still prefer academic courses rather than technical or vocational streams. To reduce the mismatch between the academia and industry, some education and training centres offer short courses to equip the students with the necessary skills required by the industry.

The Apprenticeship Programme introduced by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) is an example of a government-industry-academia initiative to address the shortage of technical skills. The Programme is a trilateral  partnership between MIDA, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Ministry of Education (MOE). Under the National Dual Apprentice System (NDAS), Human Resource Development Fund bears the course fees of up to RM10,000 per student. The participating company are allowed to utilise its HRDF contribution to pay for the difference.

This is a two-year initiative where 16-year-old students are placed at a vocational college for six months to undergo academic and vocational courses and another six months of practical training in participating companies for two consecutive years. At the end of the programme, the students sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination – only for selected subjects. Eventually, the students will receive both SPM and Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia 3 (SKM3) certificates. The participating company will have the first option in hiring the students.

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The government is now promoting Industry4WRD towards achieving Industry 4.0, where it is billed as a looming technological event that would change the landscape of the industry globally. However, it may not be fully realised without the presence of a highly skilled workforce and multi-talented TVET graduates.

The Industry4WRD introduces connectivity between machines, allowing more advanced automation where companies can run their operations with less human error. Skills required by this new technology are different from what is offered at the current school system. According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 65% of kids enrolling in primary education today will end up working in jobs that have not been created yet. Essential skills like programming and coding are to be taught in schools to prepare the students for future Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. Computational thinking, such as problem-solving, abstract thinking, logical and skilled critical thinking, forms an essential part in the Industry 4.0 era.

In view of this, Malaysia, alongside Singapore, Japan and South Korea are preparing the new generation with the necessary skill sets for future jobs. Launched in 2016, Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Pre-school to Post-Secondary Education) has established a roadmap for strengthening the STEM’s delivery processes across the education system. In 2016 and 2017 respectively, a new subject of the necessary coding has been introduced to the total of 9,000 year six students in the selected government’s schools across the country.

They have been exposed to basic programming; web development using HTML, CSS and JavaScript as well as application’s development using LiveCode. Apart from that, students will also be taught to learn HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery Mobile.

From 2020 onwards, algorithms (pseudocode and flow chart) will be included in the Design and Technology subject for senior primary school students (aged 10 – 12 years). Students will learn and be able to develop a simple to more complicated programming. In introducing the robotic and artificial intelligence, Basic Computer Science and Computer Science subjects will be taught for lower and upper secondary school, respectively. They are required to program softwares such as Arduino and Micro Bit, as well as learning to use Scratch, a freeware for coding and other resources.

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According to the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, by 2020, the country requires about 1 million skilled and technical people. Of these, 500,000 will be in support and services, including nurses and ICT personnel; 470,000 implementors, engineers, doctors, architects, scientists, technologists and applied scientists and 30,000 in research and development.

Government agencies, including educational institutions and private sectors, are actively promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For example, MIDA, in conjunction with SEMICON 2019 organised SEMI HI TECH U programme, an interactive programme to expose students to the semiconductor industry by applying the knowledge they have learned in school. The programme was divided into two modules, Microchip and Human Calculators. Microchip’s module will require the students to stimulate the layering process used in wafer fabs, while in Human Calculator’s module, students will be taught on “and”, “or”, and “not” gates. Through “feet on” exercise like the game “Twister,” students will be able to visualise the simulation of electron microprocessor flow when binary numbers translate to decimals. The interactive activities provided will help to create interest in STEM and for them to see the semiconductor industry as career prospects.

With the Industrial Revolution, demand for the big data professionals is expected to increase. Yayasan Peneraju,  in collaboration with PEOPLElogy, has designeda Big Data Analytics Training and People Development Programme. The programme focuses on assisting young scholars in developing their careers and generating their income. The training, certification and examination fees are covered by Yayasan Peneraju.

Public universities like Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Multimedia University (MMU) are some of the universities that offer courses related to Big Data.

In August 2019, a new committee namely  Jawatankuasa Kabinet Permerkasaan TVET (JKKPTVET) has been formed to look into the issues and challenges faced by the industry. The formation of JKKPTVET indicates the seriousness of the government in addressing the workforce issues in the country. JKKPTVET comprises ministries of MOE, MOHR, MED, KBS, KPDNHEP, MOA, KKR and MRD. Malaysia strives to reduce the talent gaps, thereby compelling both industry and academia to refresh their systems, policies, processes and strategic initiatives.

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Tarikh Dikemaskini : Khamis 21 November 2019