Jobs opportunities in Malaysia in an AI world

As AI continues to progress, its impact on society and the economy is becoming increasingly significant 

by HAJAR UMIRA MD ZAKI 

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) is often associated with robots and advanced technological creations, but its true nature goes beyond that. AI represents a “human-like” technology that has garnered significant attention and is gradually becoming a reality as our world evolves with new technological advancements aimed at enhancing human productivity. 

As AI continues to develop and more creations are introduced, public opinion on its progress varies, ranging from optimism to scepticism. A Global Opinion and Expectation about AI survey conducted by Ipsos — the world’s third-largest insights and analytics company — shed light on these differing viewpoints. The survey revealed that China ranked highest in terms of the perceived benefits of AI in products and services, while Malaysia also made it to the top 10 with 65% of respondents acknowledging the advantages of AI over its challenges. 

One prominent example of AI technology in current times is ChatGPT, widely utilised by major companies to enhance their customer service and cater to customer requests. ChatGPT enables customers to engage in human-like conversations with a machine and was launched by Open AI in November 2022. 

However, the widespread adoption of AI technologies by companies is predicted to bring major disruptions to the job market in the next five years, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum. As a consequence, the global economy may experience negative implications. 

Overall, as AI continues to progress, its impact on society and the economy is becoming increasingly significant, with differing opinions on its benefits and challenges. 

With AI there will always be more demand for jobs or value creation that machines and robots can’t do, opines Rafizi (pic: Bernama)

New Jobs Opportunity will Emerge

In Malaysia, although there are no specific studies on how AI technology disrupts the current industries, Economic Minister Rafizi Ramli admitted it could affect low-level jobs. 

“But that’s for every loss there will be some gains and that’s why I think when it comes to AI, I don’t think it’s productive to scare ourselves to death that this job and that job will be lost more or less. 

“The focus should be on each job loss due to AI. Which new job can we grow? Because with AI there will always be more demand for jobs or value creation that machines and robots can’t do,” he said. 

From the invention of AI, Rafizi further shared that he imagined there would be more demand for creative-related works as robots or machines couldn’t be like humans. 

“I tend to look at it and embrace it, you know with some optimism and as a country, we have to be mindful so that we take advantage of AI, to gain more efficiency, but also don’t lose sight of those sectors that will go in demand because of AI,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Jobstreet Malaysia by SEEK spokesperson (Jobstreet Malaysia) also agreed — regardless of how the AI technology will impact human jobs, it will help new job opportunities to develop. 

The agency told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that the employment website played an important role in assisting both job seekers and employers to discover new opportunities for both sides. 

“JobStreet has played a pivotal role here by providing a leading and user-friendly platform for job seekers to discover these new opportunities and for employers to find talent with the required new skills, roles such as data scientists, machine learning engineers, digital transformation consultants and cyber security specialists,” they said. 

Benefits of Adopting AI in Company and Job Seeking

TMR has also approached Ray Teng, the CEO of www.ajobthing.my — the platform to assist employers in Malaysia to hire the right candidates that match their preferences — for his view of the adoption of AI in his company. 

He complimented AI as it eventually works very well in assisting human workers at the early stage and had adopted using AI in his company as well. 

Teng shares jobseekers who utilised AI in making their resume or CV have more quality than those using the traditional way

“We realise No 1 is the speed of our work getting faster. While No 2, helps in terms of the quality as well, the quality also improves a lot. So, we realise that we can complete more tasks but adopting AI compared to those not adopted. 

“So in the short term, we see the difference. People that adopt AI, companies that adopt AI as their assistant, their productivity increase, cost reduction, speed and quality much better,” he said. 

While looking at the perspective of the job seekers, he shared that the jobseekers that utilised AI in making their resume or curriculum vitae (CV) have more quality than using the traditional way. 

Sharing their experience in utilising the AI in the company, Teng further explained that the AI, it helped them to save up to 50% of their time — but yet, the work done by AI — still required to be reviewed and improvised by their experts. 

“Today our writer used it for the first draft. But still, they need to use their experience and expertise to review the content. We think that AI can’t replace human work but it will reduce the time and improve the quality. 

“However, in the long term, we believe that AI is getting smarter and smarter. Maybe now it can replace 50%, but give it some more time, it can replace 70% of our work and more time can replace 80% to 90%,” he said. 

Upskilling Programmes by Govt, Agencies

From a survey conducted by Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Faculty of Economics and Administration, it was found that 40.1% of Malaysian jobs were in the precarious position of being automated with 57 % of jobs being affected by automation in the next two decades. 

Teng agreed that with AI being implemented in the workforce, people might be losing jobs due to it. But, it would not be in the future and might be in the next five to 10 years. 

Nevertheless, looking back on history, everything when there was evolution, there will be occupations dissolved within time, but new opportunities will surface. 

“However, it will create new jobs and require higher level skills and knowledge which we believe this next evolution will change because of AI. This is what we foresee will slowly happen. It’s not only in Malaysia but it’s slowly happening to everyone in the world,” he said. 

Thus, as losing jobs due to AI comes into the picture, the government should have plans in mitigating the upcoming problems once the technology starts to get involved in humans’ productivity — especially about losing jobs. 

SEEK — the largest global online employment marketplace operating JobStreet and JobsDB in Malaysia and other countries — told TMR that among the mitigation that should be highly taken by the government is for them to invest in upskilling and reskilling programmes in the workforce. 

“Investments in upskilling and reskilling programmes are essential to help the existing workforce adapt to new technological demands. As an example, an employee in a job threatened by automation can be reskilled to work in an emerging field like data science or AI. 

“Collaboration between government, educational institutions and businesses can be a powerful force in developing and implementing these programmes, and a cohesive public-private partnership effort is needed to address the changing employment market coupled with emerging new roles,” said the agency when queried via email. 

SEEK also said by proactively taking these measures, governments can also mitigate potential job losses from automation and instead use it as a driver of economic growth and prosperity. It’s a complex issue that requires thoughtful solutions and the collaboration of all stakeholders. 

“At our end, JobStreet is constantly up-to-date with identifying skills gaps in the employment market, providing career guidance while also connecting job seekers with resources and opportunities,” the agency said. 

Initiative by Industry Key Players

Having AI in the industry undeniably lifted the workload for both the companies and the staff. But the existence of technology should never be taken for granted and have to be balanced to ensure productivity in the workforce as well. 

Seek said Jobstreet Malaysia found collaborative effort is required in order to balance the workforce between AI and human employees. 

“Employers should provide opportunities for learning and development, particularly in the digital and AI-related areas. They should also redesign jobs to leverage the strengths of both humans and AI. 

“While employees, on the other hand, need to be proactive in learning new skills and adapting to changes,” they said. 

What was important in balancing the workforce according to Jobstreet Malaysia is the understanding that AI should be seen as a tool that enhances human capabilities and not as a replacement. 

They added that AI should be utilised to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up human employees to perform more complex, creative, meaningful and “value-added” work. 

As for A Job Thing, Teng advised companies and jobseekers to adopt the technology as the trend is coming and cannot be avoided. With the trend that is moving forward, he further advised to try and make it a part of daily progress. 


  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition