‘Automation to create new jobs’

KUALA LUMPUR: The job market will not be adversely affected by the shift to automation, but it will require workers to be equipped with new skills, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang.

Although there may be a reduction in the number of workers, the need for different skillsets will open up opportunities for Malaysians.

“Our industries are very labour-intensive now. But after automation, we are still in need of a significant number of workers possessing skillsets that can handle automation, managing systems and navigating artificial intelligence.

“Now, in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a lot of their work is done by foreign workers, so it will not affect the local job market,” he said.

Chang was speaking to reporters after delivering his keynote address at the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association (MSIA) SME Conference 2024 here yesterday.

In his speech, he urged SMEs to leverage their expertise in research and development (R&D) by harnessing the latest technologies with collaboration with his ministry.

He said the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems, which has an R&D centre, can offer local industries its products that can help them increase the adoption of technology.

“Such cooperation will enhance the capabilities of SMEs while accelerating the country towards becoming a high-tech nation.

“Many multinational corporations involved in semiconductor operations are transitioning towards integrated manufacturing centres, amalgamating manufacturing with R&D, product design, marketing and distribution.

“Local SMEs are lagging behind larger corporations in technological advancement. As such, it is crucial to bridge the gap to propel the industry forward,” he added.

Chang said many incentives and funding have been offered to enable R&D activities for this industry.

“We aim to achieve 250 new technologies and product development to be commercialised in the market,” he added.

MSIA president Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai said SMEs are the backbone of the country’s economy.

“As such they must embrace innovation to capitalise on emerging opportunities, address market challenges, meet customer expectations and achieve sustainable growth.

“Malaysia’s SMEs are faced with the challenge to be competitive at the global level. Innovation would be the pathway to growth for SMEs.

“Innovation is not merely a choice but a necessity for survival and success,” he said.

Wong also spoke about the significance of Malaysia being the hub for electrical and electronics (E&E) and semiconductor sectors.

He said the E&E industry has long been a driving force behind Malaysia’s economic development.

“But they needed nurturing to ensure a robust growth.

“The industry has grown leaps and bounds into electronic manufacturing services (EMS), automation, solar, bio-medical devices and many more.

“We have strengthened our ecosystem to support the industry so that local companies can grow in terms of automation precision tooling needed in the semiconductor sector and SMEs,” he added.

Wong said Malaysia should leverage with the interest of foreign investors.

Citing the forecast by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, he said the worldwide semiconductor sector is anticipated to expand, potentially doubling from its current US$575bil (RM2.7 trillion) revenue to reach trillions of US dollars by 2030.

In order to sustain its market position and keep pace with this growth trajectory, Malaysia must aim to elevate the E&E industry exports to at least RM1.2 trillion by 2030, he said.

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Chang Lih Kang , MSIA SME Conference


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