The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as IR4.0 which is being embraced globally, is expected to change our lifestyles, jobs and the way we communicate. According to The World Economic Forum, about 65% of children in primary schools now may end up working in jobs that do not yet exist.
Jobs that have a high percentage of being phased out or automated include cashiers, receptionists, cooks, dispatchers, telemarketers and the list goes on. On the other hand, jobs that are least likely to be automated include occupational therapists, physicians and surgeons, first line supervisors of police and detectives, just to mention a few.
The emergence of online shopping alone has affected Malaysian household spending on goods from 33% in 1994 to a mere 26% in 2016. Conversely, household spending on services such as restaurants, transportation, hotel and health, increased to 22% in 2016 from 20% in 1994.
Evidently there is a change in preference, resulting in irrelevance of traditional production methods. In spite of this, there is still a large number of local firms which are unaware of the rapid automation of production processes.
Industry4WRD was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad on 31 October 2018 in an effort to help Malaysian manufacturers upgrade to be in line with IR4.0. It was expected to increase the productivity of manufacturers per person by 30%.
However as of August 2019, only 15 to 20 percent of local firms have made the migration. Despite the fact that there is a reserve of RM2billion in the 2018 budget, companies are clueless on how it could be accessed. Alarmingly, International Data Corporation, an industry research firm has revealed that Malaysia’s workforce is unprepared for IR4.0.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad was reportedly saying untapped talent exists in the country and an urgent response was needed for Malaysia to create, adopt, and integrate distinctive technological solutions to transform the workforce and industries.
Among solutions proposed, include one by Messe Worldwide Sdn Bhd sales director Foong Lai Lyn, that an agency be set up to manage the confusion faced by local firms and act as a point of support.
Meanwhile, Manokaran Mottain, chief economist at Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd, points out that the government could benefit from providing additional support to small medium enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade and adopt IR4.0 technologies.