Embracing Industry 4.0

(From right) Ainol with Lock, Kulasegaran and Yap during the forum at Taylor’s University, Lakeside Campus in Subang Jaya. The forum was moderated by Xtrategize founder and chief executive officer Ong (left). — Photos: SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

THE accountancy field is expected to undergo a paradigm shift due to the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as completion of core tasks will be enabled by technology.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said this, in turn, would provide accountants the ability to enhance their role as advisers to their respective businesses or industries.

“It will, however, require that those who are currently professionals in the field and those aspiring to be professional accountants to diversify their body of knowledge to also include a command of information technology or computing,” he said when officiating at the inaugural Taylor’s College forum on Professional Qualification.

The forum, “Revolutionising the Role of Professional Accountants”, was held at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus in Subang Jaya. Taylor’s also launched the full modules available in the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programmes that the college began offering last month.

“While Industry 4.0 is still a relatively new concept to us, the implications of this era on life as we know it are immense,” said Kulasegaran.

“This new era is projected to have an impact that will blend together the physical, digital and biological aspects of life; in turn, requiring a reassessment of how we work, learn and live.

“The process of acquiring information or remaining current to the field will require you to transform how you look at learning and development within the workplace.”

He said diversifying training opportunities to include computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other such topics would be a good investment as it would strengthen their respective communities and allow them to acquire tools to be better contributors in their individual roles.

Kulasegaran (centre) launching the Taylor’s College forum on Professional Qualification, witnessed by Tan (right) and Taylor’s College head of school (Professional Studies) Jason Lo.
Kulasegaran (centre) launching the Taylor’s College forum on Professional Qualification, witnessed by Tan (right) and Taylor’s College head of school (Professional Studies) Jason Lo.

“I would like to encourage each of you to also work, or form partnerships, with different education institutions by providing insights into professional trends, which will in turn allow members of our future workforce or today’s learners to be equipped with the skills they need for the future,” Kulasegaran added.

He said it would be helpful to achieve the national target of 60,000 accountants by 2020.“Professional programmes like CAT and ACCA will play a role in ensuring that we are able to groom accountants towards this aim,” said Kulasegaran.

Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan said they aimed to provide their students with an education that would stand them in good stead when they graduate.

“We constantly seek to improve on our offerings – be it education or internship opportunities – in order to provide our students a global outlook to their education journey.

“With the growing influence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our society, we as educators need to be cognisant of the fact that we are influencing the learning journey of tomorrow’s professionals.

“It is necessary that we provide our students with an education that will serve them well tomorrow,” added Tan.

By selecting to do their ACCA and CAT programmes at Taylor’s, students will be able to gain mentorship and tutelage from industry experts and “Star” lecturers (ACCA lecturers who hold PhD qualifications and have been trained in various institutions) in addition to developing their transdisciplinary skills.

Xtrategize founder and chief executive officer Tony Ong later moderated a discussion at the forum.

The panellists were Kulasegaran, Baker Tilly Malaysia Audit and Assurance co-leader and partner Datuk Lock Peng Kuan, 6Biz founder and transformational leader Datuk Vimmy Yap and BP Malaysia country head Ainol Roznain Yaakob.

Among others, Yap said accountants played an important role as they were equipped with the skills to manage risk and finances of SME companies as well as trusted to assist in its decision-making.

She said the accountants should work together for technology adoption to be more confident when dealing with the challenges of Industry 4.0.

“We should not compete with machines. We should not think that robots will take away our jobs, but people should upskill to do more, which adds value (to their job),” said Yap.

Citing Gartner’s hype cycle for emerging technologies, Yap said that artificial intelligence (AI) would automate 1.8 million people out of work by 2020.

However, she added, Gartner predicted that AI would create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, driving a net gain of 500,000 new jobs.

Kulasegaran shared that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions were available as the backbone for the development of the country.

The minister also said companies which do not adapt to automation would not be able to enjoy certain incentives offered by the Government.

Ainol said companies should invest and upgrade in IT infrastructure to stay in the business and remain competitive.

Lock said automation would enable companies to carry out their work efficiently and effectively.

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