Malaysia’s industrial development must follow global trends to stop brain drain, says researcher
22 Jun 2022
Malaysia can stop the brain drain by instituting industrial development policies that are aligned with global trends to become a high income nation and retain talents within the country, a researcher said today.
Rather than traditional jobs, the nation’s industry and education system should produce people who can fill up critical occupations mainly related to ICT and digitalisation, electronics, engineering, software engineering and research, Datin Wira Dr Margarita Peredaryenk, chief research officer at EMIR Research said.
This will position Malaysia well in producing and retaining highly skilled individuals with relevant knowledge and skills, she said during Bernama TV’s ‘The Brief’ talk show today.
She said Malaysia’s education syllabus should also be infused with Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) elements beginning primary-school level with emphasis on creator of technology approach versus simply user of technology.
“Talented people at every level of society are the ones who uplift a country’s economy and it takes the right people building the right culture to attract the right people and expand the economy, boost foreign investments and strengthen the ringgit,” she said.
Peredaryenk lamented how Malaysia was stuck with a very simple economy comprising cheap, low and semi-skilled labour-intensive mode.
Unfortunately the numbers over the past 40 years in areas such as value-added by industry, foreign direct investment, youth unemployment, exports vis-a-vis GDP, suggest that “our industry is in a very critical state mainly due to the limited breadth and depth of the industry,” she said.
The skills needed for those hard-to-fill occupations require strong mathematical background, critical thinking, modular thinking, systems thinking, creativity and innovativeness, as well as contrarian thinking, she said.
Global research shows that this will create job opportunities, occupational choices as well as learning opportunities which will impact social mobility positively and bring about equal income distributions.
To a question by Host Gerard Ratnam on whether there needs to be a complete overhaul in policy decision-making to stop the brain drain, she said: “We are either on one end of the global supply chain, raw materials, or at the other end, simple assembly of finished goods.
“This limits social mobility within our country and pushes talented and skillful individuals, if we are even able to produce any, outside of the country (and) this is a structural problem that cannot be fixed with continuous subsidies and handouts.”
“The complexity and diversity of the home economy absolutely requires wide distribution of knowledge and knowhow, high level of inclusiveness, strong institutions and high level of coordination between social policies that are needs-based and industrial policies that are merit based.
She said that if a nation that does not value its most precious high-skilled and talented individuals, it exposes itself to various structural problems.
They include aging population, poor policy making, middle income trap, low industry development, poor quality of life, low foreign direct investment and less job opportunities.
“Sadly enough, most of these factors actually lead to even more brain drain. That is why it grows in an exponential manner.
“Apparently, our education system seems to be inadequate to produce much needed talents with the World Bank highlighting this as early as 2009 and with TalentCorp consistently reporting our industry-wide inability to fill critical occupations in ICT, electronics, engineering, software engineering, research since 2015 until now, she said.
She said that EMIR Research advocated that Malaysia’s education syllabus should be infused with 4IR elements beginning primary-school level with emphasis on creator of technology approach versus simply user of technology.
The syllabus should transcend humanities/science divide from school to university level where there should be no dividing humanities and sciences into streams.
“We need to acknowledge that 4IR reality simply demands well-rounded individuals who are good at both worlds.
“Malaysia must establish a special committee involving experts of science and technology from academia and industry for continuous curriculum development that is step in step with the global industry development, she said.
EMIR Research is an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.