By Charles F Moreira, Editor
In Part 3 of our article on the 12th Malaysia Plan (12th MP) we covered initiatives to accelerate the development of strategic and high-impact industries. In this part we look at human resource development, technology adoption and innovation, support infrastructure and other initiatives to enable such development.
The achievement of targets set under the three themes of the 12th MP are supported by four catalytic policy enablers focussed on developing future talent, accelerating technology adoption and innovation, enhancing connectivity and transport infrastructure, and strengthening the public service.
Developing Future Talent
The growth targets set in the 12th MP will require the development of highly skilled talent to support the demands of a growing economy. Initiatives put in place to accelerate human capital development during the Eleventh Plan (11th MP) contributed to the improvement in minimum wages, better employee compensation (CE), increased school enrolment, increased intake by technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions and improvement in the quality of universities.
However, the labour market and the education sector continue to face a number of challenges. These include low CE, inefficient labour market, lack of access to quality education and weaknesses in the governance of educational institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in the unemployment rate and has brought about new norms in the way people work and businesses operate.
Hence, the 12th MP will focus on developing future talent by realigning the labour market in meeting industry demand and further improvement in the quality of education.
Amongst the key initiatives to be undertaken to realign the labour market are promote more equitable CE and higher female labour force participation as well as strengthening the labour market support system. In addition, raising the quality of education and leveraging emerging technologies will be key initiatives in improving the education and training system.
The implementation of these initiatives is expected to lead to a more flexible labour market and an improvement in citizens’ standard of living.
The development of future talent under the 12th MP aims to achieve 40% EC to GDP, 55% intake of school leavers with a Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) or equivalent into TVET programmes and 86.7% employment of graduates of higher education and public TVET institutions.
A strong TVET ecosystem a key catalyst in Malaysia’s socio-economic development which will address a number of issues, including dependency on foreign workers, low EC and high youth unemployment.
In this regard, emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) will be leveraged to complement existing hands-on teaching and learning activities as well as research and development (R&D) conducted in laboratories and workshops.
A strong TVET ecosystem will be a game changer that will create future-ready talent in meeting industry demand. A ranking system for TVET institutions will be introduced whereby the allocation of funds will be based on a number of components in this ranking system including employability, wage levels of graduates, industrial engagement and the implementation of social initiatives in the rural areas.
Besides an increased intake of SPM holders into TVET institutions, other key outcomes expected are more Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) related courses offered and the creation of new jobs through entrepreneurship.
The importance of TVET?
A strong TVET ecosystem is one of the main pillars of Malaysia’s socio-economic development. Having this ecosystem will:
- Address issues of dependency on foreign workers, low EC and student dropouts.
- The establishment of a National TVET Council.
- Reduce the gap between the quality of graduates and industry expectations.
- Increase the quality of TVET institutes and encourage more industry collaboration.
- Upskill communities in the rural areas.
- Enable TVET to become the preferred choice for students.
Efforts to build a future-ready TVET ecosystem will encompass the following holistic initiatives:
- The establishment of a National TVET Council.
- The promotion of a single brand to represent all public TVET institutions and private providers.
- Leverage emerging technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
- The introduction of a ranking system based upon employability, wage levels of graduates, industrial engagement and the implementation of social initiatives in the rural areas.
- Funding to be based on a ranking system.
Measures of success:-
- TVET graduates will meet industry demands.
- More collaborative initiatives with key industries.
- Increase in programme intake of SPM leavers to 55% and offering more 4IR related courses.
- Qualified TVET graduates recognised as professionals by the Malaysia Board of Technologists (MBOT).
- More new jobs created through entrepreneurship.
- Dependency on foreign workers reduced.
- Higher EC.
Digitalisation and Advanced Technology
Boosting the adoption of digitalisation and advanced technology aims for the digital economy to contribute 25.5 % of GDP by 2025, e-commerce to contribute 10.5% of GDP, a gross expenditure on R&D comprising 2.5% of GDP, 100% 4G coverage in populated areas, wider 5G coverage, 50 locally accredited sharing economy platforms and 2,000 patent applications by Malaysians in 2025 and for Malaysia to be ranked amongstst the top 20 of the Global Innovation Index.
Technology Adoption and Innovation
Malaysia needs to evolve and innovate continuously in order to become a digital nation that is prosperous and resilient. Digitalisation, technology adoption and innovation are essential in ensuring sustainable economic growth.
However, there are issues and challenges in adopting advanced technology and digitalisation. These include insufficient digital infrastructure and services, fragmented governance, widening digital divide and insufficient research, development, commercialisation and innovation (R&D&C&I) capability.
In the 12th MP, the adoption and application of digital and advanced technology will be accelerated in creating and unlocking new opportunities to reap the benefits of the digital economy as well as to achieve inclusive, responsible and sustainable growth.
This policy enabler focuses on accelerating digitalisation and promoting the adoption of new and advanced technology in all sectors. The supply of talent and skills required to drive both the digital economy and 4IR technology adoption will be increased, while R&D&C&I will be intensified.
Malaysia will also focus on main-streaming digitalisation for inclusive development and attracting more investments to become the regional champion in the digital economy. This policy enabler identifies two game changers in accelerating technology adoption and innovation, which will enhance digital connectivity for inclusive development as well as align research and development towards commercialisation, wealth generation and economic growth.