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BUSINESS

MySTEP a far-sighted move to bridge severe digital skills gap

18/07/2022 04:30 PM

By Mikhail Raj Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 (Bernama) -- The Malaysia Short Term Employment Programme (MySTEP) to address youth unemployment is also proving to be a far-sighted move to bridge the severe digital skills gap among the working populace, attract foreign investment and maintain the nation's competitiveness.

Malaysia is estimated to require three million additional workers with intermediate or advanced digital skills by 2030 -- more than the expected output of graduates from local universities, said Andrew Pereira, chief executive officer of General Assembly Malaysia (GA).

Speaking to Bernama, he said the only way to close the talent gap is by upskilling and reskilling the existing workforce, more so since the digital economy is estimated to account for nearly a quarter of Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

“Our continued prosperity as a nation will depend on whether we will rise to the challenge of closing the digital skills gap, as about four million working Malaysians are at risk of displacement from their jobs by 2030," he said.

He noted that failure to equip Malaysians with digital skills will result in lower employability of Malaysian workers and talent shortages that will limit the growth of local firms and drive foreign firms to relocate elsewhere.

As such, GA -- a global provider of digital upskilling and reskilling services -- had partnered with Khazanah Nasional Malaysia to deliver MySTEP, one of the components under the JaminKerja Keluarga Malaysia initiative to create 600,000 job opportunities.

According to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF), eight of the top 10 emerging jobs require digital tech skills, including data analysts and scientists, Internet of Things specialists, digital transformation specialists and cybersecurity specialists.

The same study also forecast that half of all employees will need upskilling and reskilling by 2025.

However, this upskilling and reskilling are not happening fast enough in Malaysia, and a recent survey by  Randstad, a recruitment and human resources agency, found that close to 90 per cent of the Malaysian workforce believe that they do not have the skills to thrive in the digital economy.

On a positive note, Pereira said there has been an intense demand for data analytics, digital marketing and user experience design programmes offered by GA as the implementation partner for Khazanah's MySTEP.

Given GA's track record of increasing employability of the programme’s participants, he said demand for MySTEP has been overwhelming with each vacancy receiving 10 to 12 applications.

He said the practical skills for job-hunting, such as business communication and personal branding, combined with technical digital skills are the reasons why 92 per cent of GA’s reskilling graduates are hired within six months.

MySTEP aims to create 80,000 job opportunities, involving training and short-term placements within the private and public sector as well as government-linked companies (GLCs).

"For GLCs, they will be roping their strategic partners as well, which was how GA came into the picture," he said, adding that those interested and who fulfil the criteria can register at https://www.akademiga.com/mystep-2022.

He noted that the pandemic had accelerated the pace of digitalisation that was already projected to happen and it would continue to pick up even when the pandemic starts to ebb.

“Yes, we are eating in restaurants again but we are also using QR codes to view menus and e-wallets to pay for food, which is why digitalisation and the need to equip Malaysians with the skills to thrive in the digital age will not go away," he said.

Pereira emphasised that Malaysian employees who do not have digital skills would have to upskill or reskill to remain relevant in the workforce.

“With a growth mindset, you are never too old to learn, and I am inspired to see some of our participants learning to code even though they are in their 50s," he said.

Each MySTEP participant will be given three months of work experience in the programme’s nearly 200 Malaysian hiring partners and receive a monthly allowance of RM2,000 throughout the programme.

To participate in MySTEP 2022, candidates must be below 30 years old; have been unemployed for at least three months; hold either a degree, diploma or professional certificate from any recognised institution of higher learning in Malaysia; and have not participated in any other MySTEP or similar programmes.

-- BERNAMA


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