Economic Transformation Progamme (ETP) is an initiative by the Malaysia government to drive the economy. The CEO of ETP is Datuk Seri Idris Jala and he expected ETP to generate more than 3.3 million jobs over the next 10 years, with more than 60% of which would be in the medium-income or high-income salary brackets. The objective is to increase the GNI per capita from RM23700 to RM48000, in line with the World Bank’s high-income benchmark.
What constitutes the 3.3 million jobs is not immediately known but from what we understand at this juncture, 131 projects were identified and they includes the building of new rail lines and a high-speed rail system to connect Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit among others that come under the umbrella of “mega infrastructure projects”.
Since the immediate beneficiary is the construction industry, it is therefore not presumptuous to say that at least one group of profession will greatly be in demand for the next ten years – Engineering!
As of now, it’s already predicted that Malaysians are unable to meet the demand as we lack high skilled workers and it has been projected at least 46% of these jobs require vocational and technical skills.
So, what’s the solution?
We might fill up the openings with expatriates that can come across as a short term solution. But it won’t be if our objective is to be a country of choice for global talent.
Secondly, it comes in the form of Talent Corporation, which has been given the mandate to lure Malaysian diaspora across the world to return to their home land to work. Some quarters doubted the effectiveness of such move but like any idea or program, time will tell before stones are hurled.
Thirdly, the tertiary institutes have a critical role to play by aligning their curriculum or courses with what is in demand. It takes time to train and the sooner things get aligned, the better it is.
Fourthly, the current workforce should positively embrace this as opportunity for career advancement. If we do not have the higher skills required, are we ready to upgrade ourselves to fill the gap? Those that are willing to pay the price will reap their rewards.
Malaysian workforce is living in interesting times. As a Malaysian, I applaud the government for taking such an initiative. We have the plan on paper. Now, it’s time for a good execution.