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Standards adopted for research-backed digital assessment of human resources in Malaysia

Speaking at the launch of the Digital Assessment Technology for Industry 4.0 event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau highlighted the need for automation and digitisation of traditionally manual operations, as the country country forges ahead to build a digital economy. Human resource management was cited as an example, where research-backed psychometric assessment could meet evolving industry needs.

The Minister said that digital assessment was no longer an option but a necessity in building an engaged and effective workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Digital assessment could enable the evaluation of skills, which are not measured well by traditional academic qualifications but are crucial to the 21st-century digital economy needs, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and cultural adaptability. It is also expected to make the selection processes more transparent.

At the event, which was held in conjunction with the Malaysia Psychometrics, Symposium 2017, two international standards were adopted as Malaysian Standards (MS ISO). These standards would provide guidelines for government and private agencies that intend to use assessment methods for various purposes, such as recruitment, promotion and staff placement in the future.

Standards Malaysia Director General, Datuk Fadilah Baharin highlighted how the standards would help in garnering public confidence in the assessments, “The two new standards provide criteria of good practice and guidance for the professional test developers and administrators, which potentially would enhance confidence in the fairness of assessment sound tests and making the public less susceptible to spurious claims made based on unscientific testing.”

The Malaysian Psychometrics Association was also inaugurated at the event. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between MIMOS and a number of collaborators.

Psychometric tests, designed to measure candidates' suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude, have been around for a long time. MIMOS Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah explained what is being done differently, “No doubt the techniques of psychometrics that were practised in the past century could measure the skills, but this was done imprecisely. Proper evaluation of 21st century skills will rely on the use of advanced digital assessment techniques, such as those that are being researched and developed at MIMOS today.”

According to a news report in the Star, MIMOS, the national R&D agency for ICT, has been conducting Research & Development in the area of psychometric since 2009. Its psychometric technology has been adopted by about 20 organisations so far, including six ministries.

Another report in Bernama stated that Datuk Abdul Wahab compared the tool developed by MIMOS with other psychometrics tool available and said that it was specially designed and tailored for Malaysian culture. He also said that its accuracy had improved from 90% to 95% over seven years of testing and 100,000 data points. The technology has been adopted by the Royal Malaysian Police in assessing the integrity of new personnel recruited.

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