Week in Review: Digital is a crucial life skill
By Karamjit Singh November 27, 2015
- Governments pushing private sector to be more digital
- Indonesia aims to spark 1,000 startups by 2020 to boost economy
I SEE signs all around me that the pace at which life is going digital, is accelerating. The latest example is with Malaysia’s Employee Provident Fund (EPF), the equivalent to Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF).
As with the CPF, the EPF has long provided the ability for employers to make their payments online, but I still notice how companies prefer to make payments by cheque, with the queue during monthly deadline submissions running to 100 people! (Er, don’t ask me how I know!)
But as of January 2016, the maximum payment one can make by cheque is only RM1,000 (a measly US$240 at current rates).
The EPF is now literally forcing companies to start paying online and is offering them tutorials at its offices. Who would have thought governments would be pushing the private sector to get online?
I asked an EPF officer about this and he said that while over 90% of employers have an ‘iAccount,’ many still like coming in to make payments. The EPF, however, wants to push them to do this online to free its staff to do more important tasks.
I spoke to one employer who just finished his tutorial on linking his bank account to make online EPF payments. He has been running his own business for 10 years and acknowledged that it was time to be more efficient in running his business and start paying his EPF dues online.
Interestingly, he added that he can now do without a part-time staffer who used to handle this task.
Just in that conversation, you see the beauty and the ‘ugliness’ of life going digital. I think there will be fewer jobs created in future, because technology is driving automation and digitisation.
Certainly, that is the point Singapore’s Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation programme and also Foreign Affairs Minister, was trying to stress when I heard him speak at a conference in Singapore in April.
To prepare for this, every student on the planet must acquire the right skills set, be it coding or knowing how to use various digital tools.
This is not an option anymore. It is a matter of survival.
Now I can’t code and used to drive my poor lecturer crazy back in 1988 when I took a one-credit-hour class in C language – but we all know, especially you DNA readers, how important having even basic coding skills are going to be in life.
And that is why I insist my kids learn coding – and they are doing so, on their own. For those of you who are parents, we have huge leverage over them. Just tie their hours of playing Minecraft to them learning coding.
There are so many resources online that there is no excuse for any parent as to why their kids are not learning coding.
And if anyone thinks coding and picking up digital skills is not an economic lever, just look at Indonesia’s ambition to help spark 1,000 startups by 2020, and look at how Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) is moving a digital entrepreneurship pilot called eUsahawan to a national rollout, hoping to infuse digital skills into 200,000 students and micro-entrepreneurs by 2020.
The future is digital. Make sure every student you know is equipped.
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