Preparing our children with IR4.0 skills

It will prepare our children for the future workforce 

pic by TMR

OUR appetite for innovation has grown substantially over the past few years. With digitalisation being the key to this growth, we have seen the rising adoption of new technologies in our daily lives, especially as the world embraces IR4.0. 

This revolution is ultimately changing the way we connect, live, work and educate our children. 

While this innovation represents progress, it may impact the current workforce, especially in how people interact with technology to perform their daily activities. 

With the growing sophistication of artificial intelligence and automation technology, McKinsey and Co estimates that 4.5 million jobs could be displaced in Malaysia by 2030, and globally, this figure may rise up to 800 million. 

But McKinsey also predicts that about six million new jobs will be created in Malaysia during the same period, and this calls for the workforce to be equipped with digital knowledge and related skills to adapt to the rapid changes in the technology landscape. 

Overview Of IR4.0 In Malaysia

To prepare the local workforce, the Malaysian government introduced the National IR4.0 policy in June 2021. 

It was developed as a guiding principle to help the nation to increase workforce productivity by 30% across all sectors by 2030 — especially in the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors. 

The policy has 16 strategies — six are targeted at equipping society with necessary skills to adopt IR4.0. 

The strategies include plans to upskill 20% of the current semi-and low-skilled workers, and there is the expectation to adequately train teachers to use IR 4.0 technologies in their lessons by 2030. 

To realise this goal, the Malaysian workforce is being offered the opportunity to upskill through government-run sectoral-based development centres and incentive programmes. 

IR4.0 on the Malaysian Education Landscape

As the Malaysian government develops frameworks to support the local workforce in adopting IR4.0 technologies, it is also equally important for the education sector to update their existing teaching and learning curriculums to help the younger generation to prepare for an increasingly digital future. 

Under the guiding principles of the National IR4.0 policy, the government outlines the plans to scale up students’ exposure to technologies, encourage innovation and implement 21st-century learning programmes. 

IR4.0, therefore, presents an opportune time for the education sector to embrace changes and to build a strong curriculum foundation which increases our children’s capacity to deal with the increasingly digitalised world. 

According to Melinda Lim, MIT- stem International School principal, a Cambridge International school in Selangor: “Skills such as programming, robotics and application development are important for students to build the foundation they need for the future.

At MIT-stem International Schools, these skills are currently imbedded into students’ coursework, be it physics, chemistry, mathematics or ICT, for them to explore and be creative with the subjects, and to grasp a better understanding.” 

Such sentiment is echoed in another Cambridge International school in Kuala Lumpur. 

“With the accessibility and availability of most up-to-date technology and learning resources that support the curriculum, I expect that this will have a positive impact on students’ learning and development, especially in their creativity and understanding of how computers are increasingly able to facilitate communication,” added Andrew Dalton, education director at The International School@ParkCity in Desa ParkCity. 

Cambridge International Curriculums for IR4.0

Cambridge International’s primary and lower secondary curriculum now includes computing, which emphasises analytical and critical thinking skills related to digital concepts. 

Designed with IR4.0 in mind, the new computing curriculum specifically focuses on helping young people to develop skills such as programming (coding), computational thinking, data analysis and an understanding of connectivity and automation. 

While not every child may want to become a computer scientist in the future, having a grasp of how computers work will benefit them as they progress into adult lives that revolve on IR4.0. 

As digitalisation is accelerated by the global Covid-19 pandemic, IR4.0 technologies are fast becoming prevalent in our children’s everyday lives. 

The Cambridge primary and lower secondary computing curriculum aims to help them to make sense of the increasingly connected world. 

Through this, we hope to cultivate an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning that will prepare our children for the future workforce. 

  • Ben Schmidt is Cambridge International (South-East Asia and Pacific) regional director.

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.