Malaysia must develop digital talent pool to stay competitive

According to the 2022 Digital Talent Insight report, MQA should take a more facilitative stance rather than a regulatory one

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / graphic by TMR

THE shortage of local technology talent is partially attributed to universities failing to equip students with the latest skills.

Huawei Asean Academy’s National Digital Talent Development senior consultant Alex Lee said the country’s education system is not sufficiently equipped to produce graduates with the right skills.

“Given how quickly technologies change, most Malaysian students that graduate from three-year courses come equipped with knowledge that is already outdated,” he said at the Asia Pacific Innovation Day, Digital Talent Summit 2021 last Wednesday.

According to the 2022 Digital Talent Insight report, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) should take a more facilitative stance rather than a regulatory one, with a less prescriptive approach in elements involving programme nomenclature, syllabus and structure so that institutions can respond to the industry’s needs quickly.

It also recommended that the Education Ministry (MoE) be given greater autonomy to set curriculum standards, and that MoE should work with universities to ensure that the content of the programmes is aligned with industry requirements.

The report further stated that local institutions focus too much on offering niche courses and subjects based on their perspectives of what is on-trend.

Due to this, graduates with degrees in specific fields such as cybersecurity or mobile app development often find it hard to get relevant internships.

“The government should therefore establish a curriculum that focuses on building strong, foundational problem-solving skills.

“An excellent way to start is to establish a national skills framework to highlight in-demand skills that different roles in the digital economy need and want in the future,” the report added.

The report also gives credit to Malaysia’s potential to be a technology leader in the region.

“The unveiling of the MyDigital blueprint has highlighted building a competent digital talent pool as one of its strategic pillars to boost the digital economy,” it said.

The Malaysian Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) has been crucial in the development of the digital ecosystem in the country. It has been working closely with the private sector and academia to build the digital ecosystem in the country.

Lee said the government has been quick to recognise the increasing need for a holistic talent pipeline.

“From student learning enhancement programmes to upskilling, reskilling and digital employment portals, MDEC has solid plans in place to resolve the digital talent gap in Malaysia,” he added.

The virtually held Digital Talent Summit brought together leaders from the public and private sectors, academia and the media to discuss the challenges and opportunities of digital talent development.

“The purpose of this white paper is to call for action for the upskilling of digital upskilling among industry academic policymakers. The whole idea is to support emerging digital job roles based on the competency skills and knowledge required such as big data, 5G, Internet of things and cloud technologies.

“New digital skills and competencies are required, and there is a demand that is greater than supply because of the emergence of new innovations. Competition has become really intense,” Lee said.

Huawei has been working closely with various countries, including Malaysia to develop digital talents.

“Based on a ‘leave no one behind’ strategy, Huawei continues to push digital inclusion and invest in creating opportunities for digital talents through comprehensive training, competitions and job fairs.

“Programmes like Seeds for the Future and Learning Academy leverage decades of experience and expertise and help tackle ICT workforce challenges in Asia Pacific,” Lee concluded.