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Digital dominance

15 Aug 2021 | BY REBECCA RAJAENDRAM, THESTAR

SOON, whatever jobs that can be automated will be automated.

But just because automation happens does not mean it is the end of the world, said Taylor’s University deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer Prof Dr Pradeep Nair.

“Professionals in any discipline – doctors, lawyers, accountants or teachers – can work in collaboration with technology experts to automate jobs.

“And there are also jobs that cannot be automated and these would include roles that require creativity, social interaction and those that capitalise on technology,” he said, adding that jobs that capitalise on technology have a certain level of overlap with other categories and these include digital businesses and services offering computational solutions.

Since all disciplines or industries are likely to leverage technology, it is important for students to have a certain level of exposure to technology utilisation, he told StarEdu.

He said by 2030, 4.5 million people – or approximately 25% of the workforce in the country – will lose their jobs in Malaysia, but even if jobs become obsolete, new jobs will be created.

“Fortunately, new jobs that are emerging are those that can coexist or synergise with technology. New sectors are emerging,” he said.

In fact, he added, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has indicated that Malaysia will need about 20,000 data professionals and data scientists in the future.

Citing a 2018 McKinsey report, he said jobs that require higher cognitive skillsets will be in demand in the next decade.

“We will see new jobs in fintech, digital marketing, cloud computing, logistics, augmented and mixed reality, healthcare, renewable energy, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), and education.

“Those who are adaptable, and willing and able to learn new skills will continue to rise above the wave of change,” he said.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 survey revealed there is a growing demand for roles related to big data, digitalisation and robotics.

Professions such as data analysts, data scientists, AI experts, machine learning specialists, robotic engineers, software and application developers, and digital transformation specialists will be in high demand five to 10 years from now.

New roles that will appear are process automation specialists, information security analysts and Internet of Things (IoT) specialists, he added.

“The demand represents the growth of robotics, as well as the revival of cybersecurity threats,” he said.

Syed Hussain said jobs being displaced by new technologies are data entry clerks, administrative and executive secretaries, accounting clerks, bookkeeping and payroll clerks, accountants and auditors, assembly and factory workers, as well as business services and administrative managers.

“Rapid technological change and digital transformation will greatly impact changes in the demand for skills and future jobs.

“Digitisation, AI and automation are among the biggest enablers for productivity growth,” he said, adding that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is one of the ways for youths to future-proof themselves.

Some TVET graduates command higher starting salaries than university graduates due to the experience they gained from training and internships, he said, adding that the employability rate of TVET graduates is also more than 95%.

IBM Malaysia managing director Catherine Lian said the quality of education at all levels, from primary to tertiary level and at TVET institutions, must be enhanced.

Public and private partnerships in TVET, she said, have been forged to increase the availability of accessible distance learning solutions and the development of flexible learning programmes, and to allocate additional resources for mitigating skills and labour shortages in sectors heavily affected by the pandemic.

She added that the right people with the right skills and in the right jobs are needed in the digital economy era.

Jobs, she continued, will not only be about credentials, but also about capabilities.

“We have introduced IBM SkillsBuild, which is designed to give aspiring professionals a set of resources to help our employees cultivate meaningful careers.

“The free online learning programme offers over 1,000 interactive courses in cybersecurity, data analysis, cloud computing and other technical disciplines, as well as courses to build workplace skills such as collaboration and presentation.”

CAREERsense@HELP director Eric Bryan Amaladas said besides digital jobs, roles related to mental health will also be in demand over the next few years.

Eric Bryan said these include psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors.

“When the doors open and people come back to work in full force, there’s going to be a different set of issues and problems that both organisations and people have to deal with,” he said, adding that employees will have to learn how to cope with work in a physical environment again.

Eric Bryan advised students to get to know themselves when deciding on a career pathway or a course to study.

“If you don’t really know who you are, take a psychometric test and speak to people around you to discover a little more about your likes and dislikes.

“Once you have a sound understanding of yourself, you will be better equipped to explore the world and what it has to offer,” he added.

CAREERsense@HELP is a career development centre at HELP University’s Faculty of Behavioural Science.

Its services include personal development, employability skills training, career assessment, counselling and coaching, and employment and internship support for students, school leavers, graduates, jobseekers and corporations.

ARTICLE BY TheStar

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