Penang to focus on talent development

Focus will be on the E&E, automation, and E&E-related equipment and medical technology sectors


PENANG will prioritise on nurturing its talent pool to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and domestic direct investments (DDIs), and strengthen its competitive edge as the regional manufacturing hub for various industries.

Penang Chief Minister special investment advisor Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon (picture) said the availability of qualified talents is a critical factor in attracting FDIs and DDIs.

“The state’s success in attracting strategic investments translates into thousands of new, high-quality job opportunities every year.

“This has made Penang the talent magnet in the northern region, mitigating the ‘brain drain’ and loss of talents to other countries,” he said in a statement yesterday, adding that the focus will be on the electrical and electronics (E&E), automation and E&E-related equipment and medical technology sectors.

Lee said in addition to housing elite foreign corporations, Penang also boasts numerous home-grown companies that are thriving on the international stage.

“This success is attributed to the state’s robust supply chain, good infrastructure and conducive living environment,” he said.

Equally important is the state’s talent pool, which is essential to propel its manufacturing and knowledge-intensive service sectors.

“With this in mind, to enhance Penang’s comparative and competitive advantages, the state will embark on a massive drive to grow its talent pool and increase its population of knowledge workers,” he said.

The economic backdrop shows that the movement of recovery is heavily dependent on policy responses, especially in relation to the US and China trade war.

Lee said despite a change in the US presidency, the US and China trade war will continue, and potentially escalate with a more coordinated response against China from the industrialised world.

“Meanwhile, China is likely to maintain its stance, and not allow its domestic policies and national security to be dictated by industrialised nations.

“China will continue to forge ahead on its own and the decoupling of the world economy will accelerate,” he said.

He added that toward this end for economic recovery, the state must quickly adjust to the structural changes brought on by both the pandemic and the tension, by capitalising on emerging opportunities for a sustainable and long-term recovery.

“Covid-19 and the US and China trade war have triggered a shift away from prioritising cost-cutting manufacturing, in favour of practices that ensure reliability, consistency and security of supply.

“This, in turn, has prompted corporates to diversify their geographical footprint, including into locations such as Penang,” he said.

Lee added that concurrently, the current trade and geopolitical dynamics have created opportunities for Penang-based companies to penetrate supply chains that were previously closed and emerging business blocks that were previously monopolised by multinational companies.

“The state will need to capitalise on this new wave of opportunities, or face losing out to other countries in the race to fill the gap. And to ride the wave, we need talents.

“Challenges linger as the state looks for direct investments, and there are multitude of issues that are not settled, and yet the speed of virus transmission is escalating on top of the emergence of new strains,” he said.

In short, Lee said, the trends including closure of international borders and sluggish economic activities will remain.

“The trends of periodic disruptions to manufacturing production and a deferment of direct investments will also continue, at least through the first half of 2021.”