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Upskill To Keep Up With Changing Economies

At the end of 2020, SOCSO announced that more than 90,000 people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. It is predicted that if the pandemic worsens and lockdowns continue, many more will be unemployed[1].

According to SOCSO, the sectors most affected by job loss during the Covid-19 pandemic is the manufacturing sector which bears 23% of cases. The second most affected sector is the hospitality, food and beverage industry at 15%, followed closely by the retail industry at 14%[2].

Although having an academic degree is seen as the traditional way of getting into the professional world, it is not the only way to find employment. Not everyone has the luxury or opportunity to complete a degree. 

The prospect of reskilling and upskilling is where stakeholders facilitate the continuous learning of its students by providing training programs and development opportunities that expand an employee’s abilities and minimize skill gaps. And in recent years has seen a major boost in popularity.

Source: The Edge Markets

Professional certification and vocational studies may not be as glamorous or fetch as high a salary when starting off, but it definitely gets people employed. 

Once ‘qualified’, they would be able to have a foothold in the industry, and gain some financial stability. It may not be much, but it is the career kick-starter that they need. The employees can then take it upon themselves to work their way up the ladder, gaining more skills which will in turn earn them better pay.

Low skills perpetuate poverty and inequality. However, skills development can reduce unemployment, raise incomes, and improve standards of living.

Tech In Demand

A college degree is not enough if you want to survive in today’s competitive job market. Skillset programs will help one to be more competent and well-versed in his area of expertise as well as improve employability[2].

Based on a study by Randstad, 89% of Malaysian respondents agreed that they would need new skills to work in a digital environment. Another 93% also said that they were willing to actually learn these skills on their own in order to improve their job prospects[2].

Unsurprisingly, most of the respondents also said that employers should be the ones to provide the necessary training. However, out of these only 63% revealed that such training was offered at work. 76% have personally invested in learning about technological advances on their own[2].

Source: Malaysian Trade Union Congress

Before the pandemic, Malaysia was already undergoing the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0). Job loss was already a growing problem due to advancements in technology that rendered certain jobs obsolete. Instead, a new specialisation arose as professionals with the skills to maintain and keep up with technology became highly sought after.

Source: Learn Tech Asia

Interestingly enough, even though employment rates were heavily affected, there were sectors which are continually and actively looking for workers in Malaysia. Jobstreet, an online recruitment website noted sectors involved in healthcare, retail and merchandise, computer and technology, and even banking and services[2].

The digitalisation of the workplace and all-around tech know-how was pushed into the limelight once the pandemic lockdowns forced society to consider alternate means of working.

Choosing A Different Career Path 

It’s not a straight path when finding a career that pays, meets the market demand and fulfils a person’s passion. Hence, it is not uncommon for graduates to find work in a field that is not related to their university degree.

Mactayren Jupiter. Source: Learn Tech Asia

Take Mactayren Jupiter for example. Although he was originally training as a healthcare worker, he developed his skills personally through online learning and joined the creative industry instead. Now he is a group digital marketing manager in an engineering firm[2].

Furthermore, Jupiter hails from a rural Iban community in Sarawak, where online learning was even less of a concern and even harder to access. This lack of access in the wake of a necessary digital ecosystem raised another issue – rural internet connectivity. But Jupiter knows better than to stop there.

I hope to keep updating myself as I know my current knowledge and skills may not be fully relevant a year from now[2].

He remains alert in keeping his skills relevant and up-to-date in the constantly evolving workplace.

Upskill To Stay In The Game 

9 out of 10 Malaysians see expanding their current skill set as necessary in order to remain relevant in the job market[3].

90% of respondents felt that it would be more difficult to find new work considering the pandemic tinged recession that Malaysia is going through[3].

The survey also found that:

  • 85% think companies will prefer employees who can perform multiple functions
  • 83% believe the workforce will be reduced as employers increase digitalisation
  • 78% fear companies will retrench employees to cut costs

Of the 91%, 55% reasoned that it is necessary in order to prepare for how digitisation might affect them in the future. Meanwhile, 21% revealed that they are upskilling or re-skilling in order to change careers[4]. For those who are considering changing jobs, up to 48% of them admitted that they are willing to accept lowered salaries[4].

It is also interesting to note that besides the understandable reasons of switching jobs for higher pay or better workplace environments, 13% of people are looking to change jobs because their skillset at their current workplace no longer matches[4].

Although 42% of respondents in the survey were not actively looking for a new job, 29% of this group said they were only waiting until the end of the pandemic before making such a big decision[4]. A further 27% admitted not switching jobs because the risks of not getting another job in the current economic and pandemic situation were too high[4].

Organisations Helping Others Get Further in Technology 

Recently, Huawei ASEAN Academy was launched by Huawei Malaysia as part of an effort to empower digital talent in the country. The academy is projected to launch more than 3,000 ICT courses, whilst also grooming up to 50,000 tech talents within the next 5 years[5].

A partnership between Coursera and MDEC was also launched as part of the #DigitalVsCovid movement. It’s called the ‘Let’s Learn Digital’ partnership, which aims to improve and foster a digitally talented workforce in the new ecosystem[5].

The Ministry of Higher Education’s National Economic Reform Plan (PENJANA) launched the “Career Advancement Program” which hopes to prepare graduates for the marketplace and ensure that they have the skill sets to be gainfully employed.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin urged graduates to register and apply for the program through GREat portal, the ministry’s Graduates Reference Hub for Employment and Training[6].

I would like to call on the graduates of 2020 and 2019 who have not been fortunate enough to land a job, to take the opportunity to learn more skills and competency values ​​to further improve their marketability.

Source: Jakarta Globe

After all, the positions that are currently in high demand are roles such as programmers, coders, developers, data scientists and even designers. It is not just tech companies looking to hire these roles, but also small-time businesses, e-commerce, trading, game industries and even global supply chains[5].

These are just some of the many initiatives and programmes that the government is taking in order to help with work placement. There are even apprenticeship or internship programmes, and more reskilling courses that are being offered to the public for free. 

Fresh graduates especially are encouraged to apply, as this is a great time to begin expanding your skillset if you haven’t already been able to land a proper job.

Explore Our Sources:

  1. Daim, N., & Yunus, A. (2020). Almost 45,000 find employment through placement programme. MYFutureJobs.New Straits Times. Link.
  2. Kam, P. (2021). Adapting to the new job market with training and development in Malaysia. Learn Tech Asia. Link.
  3. Lim, I. (2020). 90% of Malaysians feel upskilling, reskilling needed to secure jobs in post-Covid-19 era, survey shows. Malay Mail. Link.
  4. Sunil, P. (2020). 91% of Malaysian employees intend to upskill or reskill in the next 12 months. Human Resources Online. Link.
  5. Shukri, S. (2020). PENJANA boost for MDEC’s Workforce Upskilling, Reskilling Efforts. Digital News Asia. Link.
  6. Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia. (2020). Penjana KPT-CAP ensures employment for graduates – PM Muhyiddin. Link.

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