The Malaysian government has secured help from India to improve the quality and employability of its workforce, as it aims to ensure 35 per cent of the labour market is ‘skilled workers’ by 2020 – a key government target.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed earlier this month between the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) and Malaysia’s Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad (PSMB), an arm of the Human Resource Development Fund in Malaysia’s Ministry of Human Resources.

EDII director Dr Sunil Shukla said: “The first activity after signing the MoU would be to train around 100 youths in entrepreneurship through classroom training, simulation exercises and field work.”

Improving trainers’ skills is a priority. “The EDII will share its expertise with PSMB in the areas of entrepreneurship education, training and research, to help PSMB’s trainers in providing comprehensive and high-quality training under PSMB’s programmes. They will be focusing on the skills of Malaysian women, low household-income communities and youth,” he said.

With more than 30 years’ experience in India and abroad, EDII is well positioned to help Malaysia “harness the inherent strengths and capabilities” of its workers, said Dr Skukla.

The PSMB and EDII will work together in the areas of skill development, re-skilling, entrepreneurship development, capacity building, training and methodology, content development, consulting and research.

Such training is crucial at a time when Malaysian organisations are looking at “how to evolve their digital strategies beyond having an online presence,” said Ryan Carroll, the country director of Randstad Malaysia.

“The priority now is to look at engagement and customer churn through these new online channels,” he said. “We also see clients hiring in more traditional functions and evolving their requirements to include skills and experience which connect more directly to the customer experience.”

Nevertheless, there are no signs of any slowing down in the strong demand for more ‘traditional’ jobs with guarantees of mid-to-long term work, said Carroll. Demand for jobs in civil engineering, software developers, technology-specific project managers, management and project accounting risk and compliance will remain high in the country, he said.

As Malaysia’s economy diversifies, its education system has a role to play in developing “softer skillsets such as critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork,” Carroll added.

International education systems have for a long time recognised the importance of preparing graduates for the workplace through project work, providing experience in teamwork and leadership skills – and the Malaysian system is adapting quickly.

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