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Malaysian firms on the lookout for digital talent

According to a recent report, the drive to find tech and digital talent is growing in Malaysia.

As the country begins pushing harder for Industry 4.0, the shift towards a digital economy, employers ramping up their efforts to attract employees with digital skills.

According to a survey by Southeast Asia’s largest online employment Malaysia-based company, the top five digital skills sought by employers are digital marketing, software and application development, e-commerce, big data and analytics, and database.

The survey was based on 20,343 employees aged 18 to 60 and 365 employers from various levels and industries.

The company’s country manager noted that organisations must strengthen their innovation and technology capabilities to capitalise on growth, and they need skilled talent to support that business growth.

The survey shows that 29 per cent of employers surveyed are looking to hire new talent externally for the skills the business needs.

Based on the survey, about 60 per cent of employers reported that they have implemented some form of digital transformation initiatives or projects, with the rest in various stages of planning and starting their projects.

With organisations adopting technologies to get ahead, 43 per cent of the employers surveyed are looking to grow their talent pool to drive business growth, specifically in areas such as IT/computing, digital marketing and research and development.

The search for talent will only get more challenging so employers need to be more proactive and adopt innovative practices to ensure they do not get left behind.

The top three initiatives that employers are putting in place to retain employees include increasing training opportunities for new skill sets, formal training and development programmes to retrain and upskill, and investing in digital technology and processes.

The findings of this survey are in line with the Malaysian government’s National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4wrd).

The Policy states that it is imperative for Malaysia to transform itself at an accelerated pace and embrace Industry 4.0 as a critical cornerstone to propel and sustain its future manufacturing competitiveness. Specific attention needs to be given to four overarching goals:

  1. Drive continuous growth in manufacturing GDP;
  2. Increase national productivity;
  3. Create higher skill employment opportunities; and
  4. Raise innovation capabilities and competitiveness.

The Policy also notes that human capital focus is key to creating an accelerated shift in productivity, especially as Malaysia has been relying on low labour cost in the past, with a declining share of skilled labour.

It is important to note that while the demand for tech talent is on the rise, there is a significant shortage of required talents, skills and knowledge for Industry 4.0, particularly in the areas of IoT, robotics and AI.

However, companies can mitigate some of the effects of this shortage by up-skilling existing employees.

The Policy notes that moving forward, the aim will be to up-skill and re-skill the existing and future labour pool. This will be imperative to Malaysia’s digital transformation.

Two of the Policy’s objectives are:

  1. To create the right ecosystem for Industry 4.0 to be adopted and align existing and future development initiatives aimed at creating the right ecosystem via boosting talent supply & skill levels, establishing collaborative platforms, digital infrastructure, funding support, data availability & sharing, as well as innovation capacity; and,
  2. To transform Malaysia’s industry capabilities in both a holistic and an accelerated manner. These capabilities include labour productivity, cost efficiency, share of high-skilled jobs, technology & innovation capabilities as well as local technology development.

It is important for industry players to be cognisant of these goals as working with the government and public agencies (like universities and research institutes) in public-private partnerships (PPPs) will enable them to meet their tech talent needs.

The Policy noted that the experiences of other countries demonstrate the importance of digital/technology labs and collaborative platforms, especially public-private partnerships (PPPs), in disseminating Industry 4.0 technologies and transferring knowledge.

As the Malaysian Government begins pushing even harder to work with global and local industry players to set up digital and Industry 4.0 demonstration labs, it is also up to industry players to meet them halfway; both for the good of the digital economy and for their own companies.

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