Develop specific engineering courses, private universities urged

Dr Ong (right) receiving an economic impact survey report from MAEI chairman Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai (left) witnessed by American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce executive director Siobhan Das at the event.

IN THE race to build human capital equipped with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), it might be possible for private universities to tailor ‘expedited engineering degree programmes’.

Deputy International Trade and Industry (Miti) Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming has proposed that such universities work with Malaysian Qualifications Agency to develop degree programmes that focus on specific branches or specialities in engineering that can be completed more quickly.

Ong called on the support of industry partners to identify ‘low hanging fruits’ in the form of smaller-scale practical projects that can help develop the skill sets needed now.

He was speaking at the Economic Impact Survey (Electrical and Electronics) sector 2018/19 results announcement by the Malaysian American Electronics Industry Committee (MAEI) at Hotel Equatorial Penang recently.

“The government is well-aware of the need to enhance its human capital and to ensure greater enrolment in STEM education but large- scale reforms to the education system will take time to bear fruit,” he said.

Besides proposing expedited degree programmes, Ong said Miti was also collaborating with the Human Resources Ministry to explore ways in which Industry 4.0 practices can be better integrated into Malaysia’s technical and vocational education and training programmes.

“Many local SMEs are put off by the perceived high levels of investment and organisational change required in the transition towards Industry 4.0.

“To this effect, Miti would be grateful if multinational companies can leverage on their relationships with these SMEs to help encourage them towards moving up the value chain.”

Dr Ong said the Government had undertaken a comprehensive review of Malaysia’s incentives structure by streamlining applications from foreign investors.

“With this efficient process, we hope future applications will be processed within a month, provided that MNCs have all the relevant supporting materials.”

He acknowledged the lack of understanding in government departments on how the E&E sector worked, and that this could lead to policies that were misaligned with industry needs.

“American MNCs currently invested in Malaysia should be open to idea of new partnerships and strategic alliances with incoming investors, especially Chinese companies, that are looking to diversify beyond their home base.

“Miti welcomes ideas from the existing foreign investment community about how Malaysia can best leverage its strategic advantages to attract new investors,” Ong said.

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