Like other ASEAN members, Malaysia’s burgeoning information and communications technology (ICT) industry is straddled with issues related to human capital – its development and nurturing – as well as ensuring ICT-related products and services that can meet global standards.
Taking lead in meeting these challenges is PIKOM, the National ICT Association of Malaysia, which represents the ICT industry in Malaysia. PIKOM currently enjoys a membership of 1,400 companies expanding the whole spectrum of ICT products and services commanding 80 percent of the total ICT trade in Malaysia.
According to PIKOM Chairman, Cheah Kok Hoong “Malaysia is a country full of many potential and I believe technology plays a key role as a catalyst in realizing the abundant opportunities. ICT plays a key role in enabling Malaysia to transform itself into a knowledge-based economy to achieve high-income status nation by 2020. Hence, together with the newly elected council, we would continue to drive the growth of the ICT industry locally and regionally in the coming years to help contribute to the vision.”
PIKOM identified human capital, creating demand locally, and building an export oriented industry as three challenges for the local ICT industry to conquer. With ambitions to create world-class ICT players, the organization has identified six key thrusts crucial to ensuring that the country meets the 5 year strategic directions set forth in 2013 in order for the ICT industry to meets its RM95 billion revenue target by 2017. These include:
From the Key Thrusts, major initiatives have been identified with targets at the end of the five years which will form the tactical approach. These will cascade to the annual activities and KPIs that will form the base of the operational plan.
To address the imbalance between what industries want and what the educational system is able to churn out in terms of graduates, PIKOM is working closely with academia providing advice and guidance on industry pain points and where academia can best contribute through tighter alignment of educational curricula with the real-world ICT needs of the local businesses. This ongoing alignment extends through the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (Agensi Kelayakan Malaysia) which is charged with accreditation and articulation of qualifications for educational institutions.
A recent study by PIKOM has identified as Malaysia being behind other members of ASEAN in terms of competitiveness of local compensations to attract and retain local talent. According to Cheah, the latest ICT Job Market Outlook 2014, a collaborative study with JobStreet.com and supported by Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), highlights a continuing concern on the potential issue of ‘brain drain’ within the industry as the report consistently shows a widening gap in the remunerations of ICT practitioners between Malaysia and countries in the region.
“If this continues, it can potentially impact the national agenda under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) which aims to boost skilled workers’ percentage up to 33% by 2015 and as much as 50% by 2020 with the objective to turn Malaysia into a high income economy”, he adds further. “We need to ensure that our industry remains competitive and that includes salaries of the staff.”
Woon Tai Hai, PIKOM’s research committee chairman noted earlier that the threat of brain drain is caused “by a disparity in remunerations, there is an ever growing issue with the declining computer science graduates including the challenges of unemployment amongst ICT fresh graduates due to misalignment of skills and expectations of employers.” He says this explains the reason for the widening of gaps between salaries of ICT fresh graduates and their more experienced colleagues in the industry,” he added.
PIKOM confirmed that cloud, big data, mobile and social media are the growth areas. The organization is encouraging its members to adopt new models for deploying services, through regular dialogue to educate, inform and equip its members and the overall ICT industry.
PIKOM also recognizes that no one organization can solve these issues alone. What is required is a collaborative effort among all industry members as well as educational institutions and government.
“Continuous engagement is key,” concludes Cheah.
The Pikom Leadership Summit in Kuala Lumpur Takes places on Wednesday 17th at ALOFT KL Sentral - click here if you would like to register