Malaysia serious on tech talent development agenda: Gobind
PUTRAJAYA: The Communications and Multimedia Ministry will continue to review all existing initiatives as well as come up with new and pertinent policies to ensure Malaysia is always ahead of the competition when it comes to tech talent development, said its minister Gobind Singh Deo.
“(My) Ministry is very serious about the tech talent development agenda,” he said at the launch of the Data Futures Forum 2019: Shaping our Future Together–Towards a Data Enabled Society, at the Heriot–Watt University Malaysia Campus here today.
Gobind pointed out that one of the more critical areas in Malaysia’s journey as a developing nation was talent.
“As a key enabler of IR4.0 (Fourth Industrial Revolution), it is critical that we prepare a strong talent pipeline to harness the socio–economic opportunities that come with digitalisation and smart technologies,“ he said.
Citing the Frost and Sullivan’s Digital Talent Report commissioned by Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) in 2017, he said Malaysia’s digital talent demand was expected to grow by 15% annually, that would require more than 540,000 jobs by 2020.
“Digital talents are already in high demand at present and looks to grow even more in years to come,“ he added.
“The World Economic Forum estimates that whilst 75 million existing roles may decline by 2022, it was also projected that 133 million new roles will emerge as smart technologies disrupt most if not all industries,” he said.
He noted that these emerging roles were related to data science, artificial intelligence (AI), software development, digital transformation and cybersecurity.
“My ministry understands the pressing need to future–proof our digital talents and is addressing the digital talent agenda via MDEC, which has been at the forefront of tech talent development and nurturing for several years now,“ said Gobind.
He pointed out a great example of success at the school level, the MyDigitalMaker movement, which is slowly transforming Malaysian students from digital users to producers in the digital economy via digital maker skills such as coding, application development, 3D printing, robotics, embedded programming and data analytics.
“To date, more than 700,000 primary and secondary school students have already been impacted by digital maker activities across the nation,“ he added.
Another effort by his ministry is at the tertiary level with the Premier Digital Tech Institution (PDTI) initiative, with the objective to address the huge demand for industry–ready Computer Science graduates by engaging closely with a select group of institutes of higher learning together with relevant industry partners to supply top quality graduates for the digital industry.
“Over the course of only one year, there has been a 33% increase in intake for Computer Science and information technology courses for the PDTIs, and an increase in the employability rate of the PDTIs,“ he said.
Gobind said the ministry was working with industry partners to address other fast–growing tech careers such as in cybersecurity, data science, AI, Internet of Things, digital marketing and creative multimedia.
“To meet the fast–growing demands of these industries, Malaysia would need about 20,000 data professionals to serve the needs adequately,” he said, adding that a recent survey showed that starting salaries for data professionals ranged from RM50,000–90,000 per annum depending on academic qualifications and technical competencies.
Meanwhile, Gobind also welcomed Heriot–Watt University’s commitment to support the nation in preparing for digital transformation through offering scholarships amounting to RM 2.6 million for the data science programme over the next five years.
He said the university’s commitment contributed to the educational needs of the local students in order for them to continue honing their skills and knowledge, and was also a great boost for local tech talent development.