PETALING JAYA: National success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution hinges on key factors such as Malaysians upgrading their skills, raising their English proficiency and embracing the digital economy.
“We are, and we have been, focused on the future,” the Prime Minister said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2018.
“And we know that depends on our human capital infrastructure, our preparedness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our embracing of the digital economy, our proficiency in languages, including English, and our investment in the hard infrastructure of roads, railways, ports and the like.”
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia’s economic transformation was already showing results.
“Some of the most robust proof of the Malaysian economic transformation is evident in the new economy we are building.
“We have put many investments and incentives in place to ensure we capture a good share of the new global economy,” he said.
The following are suggestions from economists on what needs to be done in the key areas pointed out by the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister has hit the nail on the head. On human capital, we must reskill our workers. We cannot continue to rely mainly on unskilled and semi-skilled labour. “We need to produce more experts on automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics. We need to introduce new skills such as coding into the school curriculum.
“In terms of languages, it is not only English in which we need to be proficient but also Mandarin and even Bahasa Malaysia as well. “We must also improve our infrastructure. We are still behind compared to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore and must do more to really benefit from initiatives such as the Digital Free Trade Zone.”
Distinguished Fellow, Graduate School of Business, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Prof Datuk Dr John Antony Xavier
“The Prime Minister’s reference to future success and growth being driven by human capital is very apt.
“This is because the ability to harness Fourth Industrial Revolution opportunities and embrace the digital economy very much depends on the technological capabilities and innovativeness of the workforce and the prowess of the research and development community.”
Sunway University business school professor of economics Yeah Kim Leng
“We have no choice but to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It will be a big challenge, because while the skill levels of our workers are increasing, they are rising at a relatively slow pace.
“Our education system, be it at the level of schools, colleges, universities or vocational institutions, must respond to the challenge of raising the skill levels of our workers.
“One issue that must be dealt with is the inability of our technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system to respond adequately.
“This is because some of our vocational institutions still do not have enough TVET trainers.”
Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid
“The issue of human capital goes back to our education system. We must improve standards to equip Malaysians to be able to take up the new kinds of jobs that are coming due to changes brought by Industry 4.0.
“The focus on human capital is very important. To succeed in a digital economy, we must have enough information technology knowledge workers.
“The economy also needs more investments in infrastructure to improve connectivity.”
RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd chief Asean economist Peck Boon Soon