PENJANA boost for MDEC’s Workforce Upskilling, Reskilling Efforts

  • Workers must be equipped for shift in skills demand in job market
  • Need to resolve glaring gap between talent graduating & digital skills sought

A digital skills workshop being conducted by MDEC under its eUsahawan program, one of many initiatives by MDEC to reskill sna upskill Malaysian talent for the Digital Economy.

PENJANA boost for MDEC’s Workforce Upskilling, Reskilling Efforts2020 had started with the bumpiest ride seen in decades – some say in a century; Clearly, Covid-19 has triggered socio-economic vulnerabilities. One apparent gauge of that vulnerability is that job losses in Malaysia have increased by 42 per cent for this first quarter.

It is therefore, only natural, that issues of employment are under the spotlight.


Creating jobs is only the first step, not the last

The digital economy has been accelerated and it is manifesting a shift in job skills demanded.

Timely spurts of relief had emerged and aided Malaysia, job creation-wise within the digital economy. This was so even as the norms of physical distancing seem to continue to play out amid worries of asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients and new clusters.

The CMCO was perhaps the first joint step between both government and private sectors, to restart the economy and preserve jobs. The second is the currently running RMCO.

However, as we brace for full-fledged recovery, creating jobs alone, is not enough. Just as crucial is ensuring that workers are equipped to handle the shift in skill demand by employers and the overall job market.


Opportunities to digitally reskill or upskill are here

A news report in Free Malaysia Today stated that among emerging jobs, 9 out 10 jobs are related to STEM learning, creating an evident shift in the skills demanded.

MDEC’s CMO Raymond Siva in a webinar by Marketing Magazine titled The Survival Guide for SMEs Post MCO-Lockdown (Focus: Agencies) recently shared a quick survey conducted by MDEC on five job portals which included LinkedIn, SeekAsia and Jobstreet. It showed that there were close to 5,000 digital jobs vacant, pre COVID-19. With digitalisation and innovation in the new normal, these numbers could be far higher. So, what efforts are being taken to skill workers aptly?

With the need for greater digital adoption among businesses, governments and communities, major players in the digital ecosystem who are leading this change, have been the first to present opportunities to upskill and reskill, to ready talents for future jobs; Huawei Malaysia for instance, just launched the Huawei ASEAN Academy, to empower digital talent in Malaysia. It is expected to provide more than 3,000 information and communications (ICT) courses, and groom 50,000 Malaysian talent over the next five years.

To address the issue of unemployed workers and presenting them with opportunities to digitally upskill or reskill, a partnership between MDEC and Coursera called ‘Let’s Learn Digital’ was launched recently. SAP Malaysia earlier also collaborated with MDEC as part of the latter’s #DigitalVsCovid movement, for SAP to nurture talent, build a future workforce and grow the digital ecosystem.


MDEC continues to create pathways for digital upskilling, making Penjana’s allocations timely

As unemployment numbers in March rose to 610,000, the need to resolve the glaring gap between talents graduating and the digital skills sought, take centre stage.

MDEC, responsive to the gap, is currently assessing the demand and supply in the digital job market, specifically to identify the roles and skills requiring attention. Immediately evident are the businesses looking for coders, programmers, developers, designers and data scientists, to serve game industry, global supply chains, e-Commerce and cross-border trading. Job matching is top-of-mind for both the government as well as the private sector.

MDEC will be organising a campaign next month to bring the talent supply and demand to a focal point and drive activities that will facilitate matching. The aim is to also explore ‘place and train’ as a new norm as it will better match the skills needed to the people already available or with a baseline skills that can be upskilled to requirements.

Meanwhile, as of 5th June, Penjana (Short Term Economic Recovery Plan) also offers hope through its announcement of various allocations. MDEC will continue to support government agencies following an allocation of RM2 billion for reskilling and upskilling programmes for the youth and unemployed workers, possibly benefitting over 200,000 Malaysians.

Through Penjana allocations, RM25 million will be granted to MDEC’s GLOW (Global Online Workforce) programme, to empower Malaysians in the gig economy; MDEC trains, mentors and engages trainees to train the participants to become full-time digital employees which enables them to generate a steady monthly income of at least RM2,000. MDEC’s crowdsourcing efforts through eRezeki and GLOW had achieved successful results by raising the standard of income of the B40 and M40 groups.


It’s time to get down to details

On the one hand, MDEC has long been leading the digital economy and creating a space to enable digital transitions and transformations. On the other, the nuts and bolts of the Penjana allocations are being meticulously worked out; the wheels have begun turning this week starting 22nd June.

MDEC’s meetings across government ministries and agencies are in full swing, with conversations surrounding skills and employability. We are deliberating solutions in tandem with the Economic Action Council (EAC), the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Social Security Organisation (PERKESO).

At the EAC meeting, the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) discussed graduate employability and drew solutions around skills. HRDF’s five new programmes around Penjana initiatives are related to training and skilling. The meeting with EAC and multiple ministries as well as agencies at EPU, was about how technology can help coalesce all efforts.

In essence, job skills required may be evolving, but skilling, reskilling or upskilling an individual for new roles in employment are here to stay; and for those who are agile and adaptable, opportunities abound. And Penjana is that much needed leg-up to restore incomes, businesses, education, recreation and investment – everything that vicariously retains or enhances the demand for jobs. MDEC, I assure you, remains poised and present, to take that digital leap within upskilling and reskilling, into the era of the 4th IR, to achieve our Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

Let’s Build Together.

Surina Shukri, is Chief Executive Officer, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation

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