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Exclusive! Empowering the Next Generation: Strategic Partnership for Youth Skills in Malaysia’s Digital Economy

In an era of rapid digital transformation, Malaysia recognises the importance of equipping its youth with the necessary skills to thrive in the digital economy. To address this crucial need, a strategic partnership has been formed to empower the next generation through youth skills development.

This alliance brings together key stakeholders from the government, the private sector, educational institutions and industry experts to collaborate on initiatives that enhance digital competencies among Malaysian youth.

The initiative aims to bridge the digital skills gap by offering comprehensive programmes that cater to the specific needs of Malaysian youth. It focuses on equipping them with the essential digital skills required for success in the modern workforce.

By developing a strong foundation in areas such as coding, data analytics, digital marketing and emerging technologies, youth will be ready to take on the challenges and opportunities in Malaysia’s digital economy.

The plans encompass a range of strategies, such as training programmes, mentorship opportunities, industry collaborations and granting access to digital resources. They not only foster technical skills but also emphasise critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Envisioning a future where Malaysian youth lead the way in innovation and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the digital economy, the partnership strives to empower the next generation with these essential skills. By doing so, they not only aim to fulfil the career aspirations of the youth but also ensure their active participation in driving the nation’s progress.

Fostering Youth Skills in Malaysia’s Digital Economy

Ir Ts Dr Aziyati Yusoff, Head of Strategic Partnership for Youth Skills Development, Ministry of Youth and Sports, emphasises Malaysia’s commitment to bridging the digital skills gap among its youth and aligning them with the demands of the digital economy.

With a forward-thinking approach, she acknowledges the significance of embracing new paradigms and perspectives to stay relevant in an ever-evolving digital landscape. By recognising the need to adapt and equip the younger generation with the necessary skills, Malaysia is poised to nurture a workforce that can effectively contribute to the country’s digital transformation and global competitiveness.

“Currently ranked 33rd in technological advancement, Malaysia aspires to become a regional leader,” Dr Aziyati reveals. “While physical platforms have been emphasised, other factors like education integration, cultural wellness, societal maturity, and economic stability are also important.”

Malaysia acknowledges the significance of coding and technical skills but also places value on soft skills and adaptability. School programmes in the country emphasise a well-rounded approach by incorporating STEM activities, innovation competitions, and even sports to enhance social interaction and problem-solving abilities.

This holistic approach ensures that Malaysian youth not only develop technical proficiency but also cultivate essential interpersonal skills, creativity, and the ability to adapt to various challenges. By nurturing a balanced skill set, Malaysia aims to prepare its youth for the multifaceted demands of the digital era, where both technical expertise and soft skills play integral roles in success.

Dr Aziyati acknowledges the importance of coding classes in Malaysia, recognising their role in fostering skills such as planning, problem-solving, and performance evaluation. The country’s education blueprint focuses on utilising information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance the quality of learning.

This is achieved through the implementation of online classrooms, robotics competitions, and government initiatives like the Digital MakerSpace and Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). By leveraging these platforms and programmes, Malaysia is actively promoting the integration of technology into education and empowering its youth to thrive in the digital age.

The government promotes inclusivity and equal opportunities through various initiatives that aim to provide practical platforms for knowledge and anticipate the challenges and opportunities brought by technology.

These initiatives aim for wider engagement and to create an environment where students have access to digital resources, hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to showcase their skills.

Advancements in digital technology benefit the economy by creating jobs, improving employability rates, fostering digital content creators, supporting governmental agendas and providing a return on investment.

Smart partnerships with various ministries, including the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Communications and Digital, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and Ministry of International Trade and Industry, contribute to these benefits.

“Smart partnerships ensure the relevance of training and knowledge content, while industries are open to hiring special needs graduates, offering training tailored to their abilities,” Dr Aziyati reiterates.

In the modern world, diverse cultural values and socioeconomic achievements define our lifestyles, Dr Aziyati observes. The Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint embraces the globalised nature of information systems, which facilitates cultural exchange and emphasises the impact of digital technology on societal resilience and the future-proofing of the economy.

Despite economic challenges, Malaysia’s resources and diversity have facilitated national transformations. The government understands that consistent and continuous investment in youth development through training and education is crucial for ensuring sustainable progress and national sustainability.

The education system and institutions play a crucial role in facilitating successful partnerships and collaborations. Both national and institutional levels are open to innovative ideas and opportunities for partnerships.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry supports initiatives by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education to establish partnerships with other countries. Collaboration with education institutions from countries like the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, European nations, Asian countries and APEC nations is pursued through international knowledge exchange.

Through such partnerships, a wide array of opportunities, initiatives, incentives, and projects are being implemented to benefit the citizens. These activities span various domains, including student and cultural exchange, expert sharing, technology transfer, intellectual discourse and skill mobility.

The aim is to foster mutual growth, facilitate the transfer of knowledge and expertise and create a dynamic environment that promotes innovation and skill development among individuals. As Malaysia promotes the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it requires a highly skilled workforce and smart citizens to attract investment for a better economy.

“To facilitate execution and foster innovation in the digital economy, proper planning and provision in the areas of manpower, machinery, and methods are crucial. Some also emphasise materials and mediums,” Dr Aziyati explains. “Youth entrepreneurs can adopt these approaches to boost productivity.”

Since 2013, the Federal Government has launched various initiatives and projects, including policies on science, technology, and innovation, IoT strategy, Smart City framework, cybersecurity, and the digital economy blueprint, with implementation planned until 2025.

Dr Aziyati agrees that expanding strategic relationships with other countries becomes easier with transparency as governance is visualised through paperless documents, faster approvals, efficient repayment methods and increased output capacity.

While online application processes are already in place, information security, cybercrime, cryptography and privacy concerns must be addressed, she reveals.

Over the past five years, Malaysia has experienced political changes and evolving government institutions. Despite these fluctuations, the youth and future generations remain focused on the impact and development of the digital economy.

“To achieve successful implementation of integrated e-governance, a nation must attain key elements such as political stability, economic prosperity, social harmony, technological modernisation, environmental sustainability, and legal strength,” Dr Aziyati opines. “These factors collectively contribute to effective governance and ensure a holistic approach towards leveraging digital technology for the betterment of society.”

Sustaining the momentum of digital economy efforts and utilising strengths and opportunities can lead to enhanced business, partnerships and economic growth. Transformation and readiness for change are key factors for success, along with incorporating fresh ideas from young minds and a skilled workforce.

Dr Aziyati is convinced that aside from financial assistance, Malaysia can secure long-term stability and progress by implementing a thorough and consistent transformation programme.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports in Malaysia is responsible for the supervision and advancement of eSports players. However, there are existing challenges concerning the welfare of developers within this domain. As a result, the ministry is actively seeking new policies and measures to address and strengthen this aspect, ensuring the well-being and support of young developers in the future.

In her new role overseeing Training Management for skills institutions, Dr Aziyati continues to prioritise partnerships with industry to promote digital technology advancement. To improve governmental institutions, she proposed the following:

  1. Increase budget allocations for youth in the digital economy
  2. Expand youth development programmes for mastering digital skills
  3. Provide more incentives to support youth in adapting to the fast-paced digital world
  4. Implement transformative programs in STEM, digital education, and school projects
  5. Foster flexible ideas for national digital improvements
  6. Reduce bureaucracy in project decision-making processes
  7. Encourage creativity by minimising organisational hierarchy limitations
  8. Minimise the use of paper forms
  9. The transition from old-school work delegations to foster flexibility through collaborative discussions and cooperative deliveries

To realise these improvements, both financial support and organisational adjustments are necessary.

The Ministry of Education has identified a concerning trend where nearly 50% of school leavers are choosing not to pursue higher education. This issue is influenced by several factors, including the high cost of education, a perceived lack of job guarantees, and the belief that courses offered may not provide sufficient marketability compared to the appeal of social media businesses and gig economy jobs.

Dr Aziyati feels it is crucial to conduct a study that examines the relevance of current school curricula, the courses offered by higher education institutions and the demands of industries. Recognising the interdependence among these entities is vital, as failure to address outdated education content and maintain the status quo could result in a substantial gap in producing high-quality graduates.

By understanding the evolving needs of industries and aligning educational programmes accordingly, Malaysia can ensure that its education system remains responsive, equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the demands of the job market effectively.

“To inspire young people, it is important to emphasise the importance of passion and willingness to continuously learn, improve and contribute to society,” Dr Aziyati says. “Success requires effort and perseverance, as reflected in the quote: genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

While young people may encounter misleading information and failure, it is part of the learning process. She believes that patience, persistence, and perseverance are key in this journey if one’s pursuits are beneficial to society.

Dr Aziyati strongly believes that by consistently pursuing personal growth and making significant contributions, success and recognition will naturally follow. She feels that this journey should not solely revolve around personal improvement, but also include a commitment to leaving a positive legacy for future generations.

Additionally, it is crucial to acknowledge the inherent value of the learning process itself, which cannot be easily replaced. However, Dr Aziyati acknowledges that individuals may sometimes be influenced by the opinions of others and consequently choose paths that they are not genuinely passionate about.

While quick money-making opportunities may come and go, Dr Aziyati underscores the enduring value of education and the credentials earned through hard work. She encourages individuals to prioritise long-term gains, as the knowledge and skills acquired through education will have a lasting impact throughout their lives.

“By channelling the passion of young people towards constructive and educational endeavours that bring benefits to the nation, we can unleash their potential and make meaningful contributions to their personal and societal growth,” Dr Aziyati concludes.


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