PETALING JAYA: Digitalisation and new technologies must be introduced in companies carefully so as not to further worsen an already tough job market, says an economic expert.
Malaysian Institute of Economic Research senior fellow research Dr Shankaran Nambiar said that while it was important to encourage digitalisation among firms, more attention must be given to helping people keep their jobs.
He said while initiatives to introduce digitalisation and training were valuable, the focus should be on employment.
“It should be done carefully as it could be disruptive and take away jobs.
“We have to adopt a phased approach. Money should go into people’s pockets and to SMEs, and the least advantaged sections of society, ” he said at “The Social, Health and Economic Impact of Covid-19 in Malaysia” webinar organised by the National Population and Family Development Board yesterday.
Organisations such as the Malaysian Employers Federation and JobStreet Malaysia have estimated that roughly two million Malaysians could lose their jobs due to Covid-19.
The unemployment rate in Malaysia rose to 5.3% in May, a sharp increase from Malaysia’s usual unemployment rate of about 3%.
Shankaran said Malaysia must stimulate domestic consumption to spur the local economy as the world was undergoing a period of deglobalisation.
“The emphasis right now should be buying local. People should be nudged to do so because it is the local companies that need our support.
“The current export environment will be rather muted and dull in the months to come. If you want to see a vibrant domestic environment, it must come from domestic industries, ” he said.
Shankaran added that public confidence in spending during the current economic climate must be boosted without causing consumers to be complacent of the risks that Covid-19 still presents.