MDEC HUBUNGKAN SYARIKAT PEMULA MALAYSIA DENGAN PELABUR GLOBAL MENERUSI #GRINDSTONEFOUNDERS

HAUZ Enterprise Sdn. Bhd kini meneroka peluang untuk bekerjasama dengan pelabur global menerusi program #GrindstoneFounder anjuran MDEC.

Dua syarikat pemula (start up) tempatan yang terpilih mengikuti program Grindstone Founders anjuran Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) yakin ianya akan membuka peluang untuk ‘memikat’ para pelabur teknologi digital global dari seluruh dunia sekaligus meluaskan lagi jaringan perniagaan.

Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif HAUZ Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. , Ho Di Yan berkata, salah satu pengisian yang terkandung dalam program berkenaan ialah kerjasama dengan University Draper yang terletak di Lembah Silikon, California, Amerika Syarikat.

Universiti berkenaan mempunyai reputasi hebat dalam bidang keusahawanan dan teknologi digital apabila berjaya menarik lebih 2,300 usahawan  dari 85 negara serta mengumpulkan dana pelaburan bernilai lebih AS $350 juta.

Di Yan berkata, sebagai syarikat pemula yang ditubuhkan pada 2018, beliau sangat teruja kerana terpilih mengikuti program bersama universiti berkenaan.

“ Ini akan yang menawarkan akses ke rangkaian pelabur Lembah Silikon dan program Mentor “.

“ Kami juga berpeluang untuk berhubung secara terus dengan Tim Draper yang merupakan pelabur terkenal untuk Tesla, SpaceX, Skype dan Twitter,” katanya ketika ditemubual wakil MDEC di sini baru – baru ini.

Menurut Di Yan, beliau akan menggunakan peluang itu untuk memahami bagaimana syarikat – syarikat pemula di Lembah Silikon beroperasi di pasaran Amerika Syarikat.

“ Syarikat pemula di sana (Lembah Silikon) bukan sekadar beroperasi di pasaran domestik negara mereka sahaja sebaliknya melebarkan operasi ke seluruh dunia. Ini yang ingin kami pelajari, saya percaya pendedahan berkenaan kelak akan membantu HAUZ Entreprise Sdn. Bhd.  ,” katanya.

Di Yan berkata, syarikatnya berteraskan teknologi yang memberi penyelesaian tentang pengurusan tenaga kerja dengan menawarkan satu platform digitalis dalam sektor perkhidmatan dan perusahaan.

Di Yan yang mengasaskan syarikat berkenaan bersama dua rakan kongsi iaitu Shah Fariq Aizal Shah Ghazni dan Woo Cheng Kit berkata, pada mulanya mereka hanya menawarkan perkhidmatan teknologi kepada syarikat – syarikat keselamatan.

“ Namun pada 2019, kami menyedari wujudnya masalah besar dalam pengurusan tenaga kerja. Pemilik perniagaan berdepan masalah seperti mempunyai pekerja yang ramai di pelbagai lokasi namun pengurusan operasi masih dilaksanakan secara manual,” katanya.

Jelas beliau, ketika ini syarikat berkenaan mempunyai 10 kakitangan dengan memberi perkhidmatan kepada syarikat -syarikat yang memerlukan sistem digital dalam mengawasi pekerja dengan lebih mudah, efisein dan mengurangkan kos operasi.

Ditanya mengenai perancangan masa depan syarikat itu, Di Yan yang juga pemegang Ijazah Sarjana Muda Pengurusan, Pembinaan dan Bangunan dari Univeriti Sheffield, United Kingdom berkata, HAUZ meletakkan matlamat untuk memasuki pasaran ASEAN yang mempunyai potensi cukup besar.

“ Sebelum itu, kami harus menguasai pasaran tempatan terlebih dahulu dengan menawarkan teknologi dalam menguruskan operasi syarikat dan pengurusan tenaga kerja.

“ Kami memahami banyak syarikat di rantau ASEAN ingin beralih kepada pendigitalan dan dengan pengalaman kami yang telah mendigitalkan pelbagai industri di Malaysia, kepakaran ini boleh dikongsi dengan negara – negara jiran,” katanya.

Sebelum ini katanya, mereka dipilih sebagai ahli dalam Jawatankuasa Asian Professional Security Association (APSA) yang memberi kelebihan kepada HAUZ untuk mempromosikan pendigitalan operasi kepada syarikat -syarikat keselamatan.

Mengenai kerjasama dengan MDEC, Di Yan berkata, beliau menyarankan syarikat pemula untuk berhubung dengan agensi berkenaan bagi mendapatkan pandangan tentang pendigitalan yang seterusnya mampu merangsang sektor ekonomi digital negara.

“Bagi kami , inisiatif MDEC ini membantu pengumpulan dana di samping boleh mendapatkan pandangan mengenai pembiayaan modal,” katanya.

Sementara itu , bagi  Manu Menon yang mengasaskan Youthopia bersama Nathalia Lim berkata, beliau turut teruja untuk mengikuti kursus secara maya bersama Universiti Draper.

Manu, 45, berkata, peluang untuk belajar bersama pakar di Lembah Silikon merupakan kesempatan terbaik dan mampu memberi nilai tambah dalam usaha melonjakkan syarikatnya ke pasaran global.

“ Sebelum ini, aplikasi pembelajaran yang kami bangunkan turut menarik minat dua sekolah swasta di Vietnam yang sedang menguji keberkesanan untuk pelajar mereka.

“ Kami turut menjalinkan kerjasama dengan Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) untuk mengembangkan kerangka pedagogi yang mantap bagi menghasilkan lebih banyak kandungan untuk membantu pelajar menguasai teori dan amali dalam bidang teknologi kejuruteraan,” katanya.

Berhubung program Grindstone Founders, Mano berkata, syarikatnya memohon untuk menyertai program berkenaan selepas melihat pengumuman melalui Facebook MDEC.

Ditanya mengenai perancangan Youthopia selepas ini, Manu berkata,  mereka telah melancarkan versi beta platform yang kini mempunyai lebih dari 100 pengguna.

Kami melancarkan platform berasaskan web yang direka untuk keberkesanan dengan menawarkan pembelajaran bersaiz kecil yang dikhususkan untuk kanak -kanak membina kemahiran masing – masing.

“ Youthopia  merupakan platform yang melengkapkan kanak-kanak dengan kemahiran abad ke-21 seperti pemikiran kritis, penyelesaian masalah, komunikasi dan kerjasama,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, Kementerian Komunikasi dan Multimedia (KKMM) menyatakan komitmen untuk memperkenalkan dasar baharu bagi menyokong pertumbuhan ekosistem syarikat pemula niaga atau ‘startup’ di Malaysia.

Menurut KKMM, syarikat pemula niaga merupakan industri yang penting kepada negara pada masa hadapan dan bakal menyokong kemaraan era Revolusi Industri Keempat (RI4).

Sementara itu, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif MDEC, Surina Shukri berkata, Founders Grindstone merupakan program selama enam bulan yang merangkumi bengkel intensif yang dilaksanakan oleh rakan global dan pengendali ekuiti pendanaan awam (crowdfunding).

“ Ini  bertujuan untuk menawarkan kesempatan bagi memanfaatkan platform kerjasama yang memberikan akses kepada pengusaha di Malaysia kepada jaringan pendanaan global,” katanya.

Setakat ini, sebanyak 10 syarikat pemula telah dipilih dan mendapat akses kepada rangkaian pelabur Draper Venture Network. Program Founders Grindstone ini  akan membuka pendaftaran untuk siri kedua tidak lama lagi. Nantikan maklumat lanjut di laman www.malaysiadigitalhub.my/virtualfunding

oleh Mohd Firdaus Ismail

Father’s Passion To Teach His Kids Future Skills, Sparks Educational Startup, Gets Noticed By VCs

“I have always felt that students shouldn’t be gauged by their academic results alone.”, asserted Manu Menon, parent of two primary school-goers and founder of edtech startup, Youthopia.

“It was worrying to see that my kids, though doing well academically, lacked skills like communication and critical thinking. These and many more foundational skills are not taught explicitly in public schools in Malaysia. Unfortunately, these are the exact skills that are needed in the future”, he said.

Bent upon finding frameworks that highlighted the power of 21st-Century (C21) Skills, his research triggered a desire to then teach these skills in a fun and interactive way. Thus, Youthopia was born with the founder’s vision to equip as many students as possible with C21 Skills so that they become lifelong learners and can adapt to the fast-changing world.

The startup has built an online platform to equip students aged 10-16 with foundational skills like critical thinking and creativity in order to produce the next generation workforce who can adapt to an ever-changing future.

“I saw the announcement [of Founders Grindstone initiative] on MDEC’s Facebook page and the application process was easy to follow”, said Menon, who received an acceptance email to Batch 1 within a few days of submitting his application.

MDEC’s Founders Grindstone programme gives Youthopia a boost in achieving its vision to develop the next-gen workforce.

MDEC’s initiative – Founders Grindstone in July 2020

The Founders Grindstone is a six-month programme, launched by MDEC in July 2020. It consists of three blocks of intensive workshops conducted by global partners from venture capital firms, equity crowdfunding operators, startup-centric media and the legal practice.

It also aims to offer the opportunity to leverage funding platforms of the partners on-board, granting Malaysian entrepreneurs access to investment offerings by the global funding network.

Youthopia was one of the top 10 winning startups of Founders Grindstone’s Pitching Competition that has been onboarded to join Draper Venture Network & get connected to 23 potential VCs. The other 9 are AVANA, HelloFinance, Vechnology, Mobi, Hauz, Senang Insurance, mytruck.my, PanOpthalmics and Homecrowd.

Hauz, Senang Insurance and Youthopia were successfully chosen by the judges as three startups, to be awarded scholarships to participate in the virtual Draper University entrepreneurship programme.

Manu Menon, found MDEC’s Founders Grindstone programme useful as it helped him prepare the company for pitching to investors. Youthopia is at that stage where it is looking for strategic investors to help it scale.

“The ideas shared by the Draper Startup House and Izwan & Partners helped us focus our pitch deck and understand the legal requirements to look out for when pitching to and negotiating with potential investors. We feel this will serve as a boost in helping us raise our seed round,” said Menon.

Commenting on the success of the 10 top performers of the initiative, Surina Shukri, MDEC’s CEO said, “MDEC’s strategic priorities surrounding digitally skilled Malaysians, digitally powered businesses and digital investments, serve to accelerate local companies to become global champions. Through initiatives like the Founders Grindstone, MDEC is well-positioned to help startups like Youthopia, Hauz, Senang Insudance and the other 7 toppers, to become global champions that, together, can propel Malaysia towards being a digital nation and place Malaysia as the heart of Digital ASEAN, as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution to achieve shared prosperity.”

Heads-up to all startups!

Founders Grindstone is an MDEC initiative that empowers tech entrepreneurs to maximise their potential of gaining funding from renowned global investors. Through this programme, entrepreneurs will receive first-hand coaching and tips from the investors themselves before submitting their pitch decks. 

MDEC will open the second batch of Founders Grindstone soon. For more information, stay informed here https://www.malaysiadigitalhub.my/virtualfunding

by Shobha Janardanan

Opportunities in Times of Crisis: Why Malaysia is Still the Best Location for Digital Services

As governments across the globe rally to flatten the curve for the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are forced to rethink and re-strategise the way they operate. In response, companies in Malaysia have quickly adopted new operational strategies once the Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced on March 18.

This is largely due to our high-speed broadband infrastructure and mobile broadband capabilities that are in place, various robust digital services that are still operating, and the resilience of the local workforce.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently praised Malaysia for its preparedness and response in managing the COVID-19 crisis. It even selected Malaysia as one of the countries to test the effectiveness of drugs used to treat afflicted patients, a testament to the country’s ability to conduct lab work and research.

Speed Of Response

The speed and scale of how the global pandemic spread caused significant disruptions to organisations across all sectors, forcing an engagement with various digital and technology solutions to streamline their operations and re-evaluate their business priorities.

Nations and corporates are advocating and implementing various measures to stop the spread of the deadly pandemic and keep their citizens and employees safe. This includes imposing unprecedented lockdowns on businesses, schools, and other non-essential services; restricting both domestic and international travels; and forcing millions to practice home quarantine.

As companies activate their remote working capabilities and prepare to streamline it further, employees’ health and safety take vital precedence over balance sheets. What is clear is the global economy is bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and the Global Business Services (GBS)/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is not spared.

Many service providers are already struggling to continue operations due to logistical and technical limitations. Countries that are heavily reliant on BPO are now negatively impacted as they face significant challenges to arrange and manage remote working for its entire workforce. Beyond developing processes that can be deployed at scale, these businesses need to also consider the quality of infrastructure for broadband connectivity.

Malaysia – renowned for its offshoring capabilities, placing within the Top 3 for AT Kearney’s Best Offshoring Locations, and being first choice as the preferred business continuity hub for the world – has now emerged as a more attractive alternative for these hard-hit economies.

Competitive Digital Infrastructure

“Reliable and affordable high-speed broadband connectivity is a key catalyst to bringing in direct investments into Malaysia’s digital economy. The government is committed to ensure the implementation of the National Fiberization and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) to improve the country’s digital connectivity, with plans to roll out 5G in Q3 2020 still firmly in place. This is despite the economic uncertainties that the global pandemic brought about. One of the direct beneficiaries of this connectivity initiative is the GBS industry in Malaysia. This has undoubtedly empowered their employees to work-from-home and allowed the industry to continue to operate,” assures Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister, YB Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Under the People-centric Economic Stimulus Package that the Malaysian government recently announced in the wake of COVID-19, RM600 million was allocated to provide free internet data usage to all Malaysians throughout the MCO period. An additional RM400 million was also invested in improving network coverage and capacity to provide high availability and quality telecommunications networks.

Other aspects of the stimulus will also help companies reduce operating costs. This includes tiered discount for electricity rates – ranging from 15% to 50% for April until September 2020, reduced rate of employer contribution to the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and wage subsidy programmes.

Malaysia, home to over 600 Global Business Services (GBS) companies, has proven its mettle in rising to the challenge of transitioning organisations into remote working arrangements. For example, contact centres – one of the main components of the nation’s GBS industry, have moved from business as usual to work-from-home mode within a short span of time.

“The key here is our high-quality digital connectivity in Malaysia.  With the internet user penetration in Malaysia now at over 85% and having already deployed the fibre network across urban and sub-urban areas, the contact centre industry has been able to quickly integrate work and home domains,” Raymond Devadass, President, Contact Centre Association of Malaysia (CCAM), remarks.

This, in many ways, reinforced the notion that the availability of high-quality digital connectivity to homes is very crucial. For Raymond, that enabled the global customer support industry to start and expand its current transformative evolution with the use of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), has also stepped up its efforts to drive these capabilities forward for businesses. Its ongoing endeavours focus on providing leadership and critical support to various companies and industry ecosystems, enabling them to continue operations during the MCO.

“Besides ensuring communication channels are open between industry players and the government during MCO, MDEC is also rallying local and foreign tech players in Malaysia to extend their digital solutions and services to both businesses and citizens. All these come under our recently launched #DigitalVsCovid Movement – a digital platform that is wholly dedicated to mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19,” shares Surina Shukri, CEO, MDEC.

The movement already garnered support from hundreds of tech companies. This includes global tech giants that have offered free video conferencing tools to help business owners and management to maximise their work-from-home capabilities.

Readying Future Workforce Talent

For organisations that want to activate their remote working capability, it requires quality digital infrastructure and a prevalent culture of working from home at both micro (companies) and macro (country) levels.

Malaysia is ahead in Southeast Asia as one of the early adopters for remote working arrangements.  A 2013 research report from Regus found that 53% of the country’s workforce were already on flexible working arrangement, well ahead of the global average of 48%.

Malaysia’s young, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and digitally savvy talent pool is no stranger to gig economy. Over the last few years, MDEC has been running an initiative called Global Online Workforce (GLOW). Designed to create a community of full-time high-quality freelance workers among Malaysians, it generally helps these talents generate income through digital work via crowdsourcing.

Targeting university students and young professionals, as well as latent talent such as retirees, persons with disabilities and housewives, the programme provides training on in-demand digital skills, mentoring and coaching. This also includes providing tips and tricks to compete with other global freelancers.

Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON), in its 2019 State of Shared Services Market Report for Malaysia, revealed how more than half of the GBS centres in the country are working with various global Centres of Excellence. The arrangement was to focus on continuous improvement, engaging data analytics and understanding robotic process and intelligent automation to deliver higher value processes for its clients.

All these point to Malaysian digital talent’s agility and readiness for the future of work, all of which is shaped with digitalisation and the willingness to adapt to remote working capabilities.

Best Destination for Work-Life Balance

Strategically located at the heart of Southeast Asian region, Malaysia is renowned for being a top location for digital global services. Among its accolades is being ranked first in INSEAD Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020 in the upper middle-income group and second in ASEAN for ease of doing business by the World Bank.

It’s quality of healthcare is also first-class, as evidenced by its first ranking globally in 2019 International Living Annual Global Retirement Index.

Cheah Kok Hoong, Chairman of OM, a chapter of the National Tech Association of Malaysia (PIKOM) that focuses on GBS, sums it well: “Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia is still considered as an ideal and strategic location for investments. It is indeed a strong choice for companies looking at business continuity and resilient plans, ease of doing business, talent development, high availability for fibre bandwidth connectivity. OM members who support functional capabilities are weathering though this current MCO period, working from home and serving their clients seamlessly with the availability of efficient technology infrastructure and uninterrupted bandwidth connectivity.”

Malaysia, Heart of Digital ASEAN

“As Malaysia aspires to become the Heart of Digital ASEAN, MDEC – in playing the role of specialised investment promotion agency for digital economy, invites companies to consider this country as a prime investment destination for digital services, including global business services,” says Hew Wee Choong, Vice President, Investment Development of MDEC.

MDEC has long been working closely with industry stakeholders such as OM and CCAM, along with various GBS companies to put Malaysia on the map as a top destination for this industry. “As we continue to support the world’s GBS industry, we also will face the global crisis together. Having the support from our business-friendly government, combined with our strong digital infrastructure and talent ecosystem, we welcome you to make Malaysia your digital home,” he concludes.  

5,000+ digital jobs at the #MyDigitalWorkforce Week, up for grabs!

#MyDigitalWorkForce Week has been extended to 4th September 2020! So, go ahead – check out its Digital Jobs Expo!

Today marks the last day of webinars and satellite events under the #MyDigitalWorkForce Week, which aimed to address the uptick in demand for digital jobs and the requisite skill development.

The buzz however, isn’t quite over!

#MyDigitalWorkforce Week, which began as a five-day event that runs from August 24-28, 2020, is now to be extended until September 4, 2020, to ensure adequate support is provided to job-seekers. This is specifically for Malaysian youths and the unemployed.

The #MyDigitalWorkforce Week, which packed this entire week with a slew of exciting and impactfull activities, even included the very popular Digital Jobs Expo. This platform, already curating more than 5,000 digital jobs that are made available in more than 100 companies, is one of the main driving factors for this extension. Its list of prospective careers in the digital economy includes roles in related tech-based industries. Some of the organisations that took part are DHL, Motorola Solutions, AirAsia, Lenovo, TNG Digital and DIALOG.

Jobs available are tech and non-tech jobs – the latter are at tech businesses, of course!

“Closing off registrations at this stage may mean fewer Malaysians can benefit from the Digital Jobs Expo. The jobs that are being actively curated on this platform are digital- and tech-based roles along with non-digital positions within tech-related businesses. Additionally, RM1 million worth of free training has been availed for this content-packed #MyDigitalWorkforce Week and we are happy to see members of the workforce, even students, being able to benefit from this,” shared Dr. Sumitra Nair, Vice President, Digital Talent Development, MDEC.

5000+ jobs are curated from a pool of over 212,000 jobs!

While 5,000+ jobs are what MDEC has collated and is now sharing to a hungry workforce, there are other opportunities for the workforce to tap into. This includes career prospects that are shared on LinkedIn and MyFutureJobs.

This event is in line with MDEC’s strategic priority to increase the number of digitally-skilled Malaysians who are then able to contribute to Malaysia’s digital economy. Currently, Malaysia continues to accelerate towards being a digital society as it fast approaches the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

If you haven’t stopped by #MyDigitalWorkForce Week yet for the one of the 20 webinars, 60+ speakers, 5000+ jobs or 40+ satellite events, it is time you visit mydigitalworkforceweek.my/.

Do it now, and benefit from the extension of this mega event until 4th September 2020!

Restaurant owner saves family business by going digital during MCO

Courtesy: www.pexels.com

SENTUL: When the movement control order was announced in March, Kartik Ganason feared the worst, believing it could spell the end of his family’s 33-year-old restaurant.

Four of his family’s shops had closed down during previous economic downturns. He knew the last outlet would not be able to survive a hit such as the restrictions of the MCO.

“I was in a state of depression. I didn’t know what to do because we could not open for business,” said Kartik, whose Restoran Citra Maju was started by his father in 1987.

Kartik trained as an engineer but gave up his career to take over the family business when his father fell ill six years ago.

With his family’s livelihood under threat, he knew he would need to act quickly to keep his father’s legacy alive.

He decided to take Restoran Citra Maju online and signed up for Maybank’s Sama Sama Lokal after being approached by the service.The platform offered him a way to sell his food online and gave him the training and support he needed.

It only took Maybank a week to get the restaurant fully set up and online after receiving the company registration number, address and menu.

Everything from his profile and online menu to his payment gateway was handled by the Sama Sama Lokal team, who also walked him through how it would work and how to best communicate with customers and delivery drivers.

He said everything was transparent and easy to understand, keeping him from being overwhelmed by too many details.

The platform works like most food delivery services, but unlike other platforms which take cuts as high as 30%, vendors are not charged a commission. They are also paid within 24 hours.

Since going digital, Citra Maju’s business has improved by 50% and the shop serves nearly 150 more customers every week, as the system gives it an additional income stream and allows it to be seen by a wider group of new customers.

Even people from Puchong, some 30km away, have come to his shop since it reopened for dine-in customers.

Fans of Citra Maju who found the restaurant through Sama Sama Lokal have also asked it to cater for events, which Kartik sees as a big opportunity.

He believes digital platforms like these have the potential to help many other small businesses as it makes going digital accessible for everyone.

Now, he plans to attend training sessions organised by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) through its eUsahawan programme, which he hopes can give him the tools to further grow his online presence and reach even more customers.

Having seen the way the shop has grown in such a short period, Kartik says he has no plans to leave the business behind, and takes pride in managing the business and continuing the family legacy. In fact, he is already looking to expand the Citra Maju brand as his father once did, with two new outlets planned for 2021.

“Before I came back, the first 10 years of my career I was away from my family. I missed everything. I couldn’t be there for good or for bad. But now, I’m not leaving them. I need to be here for them.”

MDEC recently launched its #SayaDigital movement, and its CEO Surina Shukri said the core objective of the initiative is to provide Malaysians with digital skills and to empower businesses to go digital.

“We want to equip individuals and businesses with the tools needed for them to thrive in the new normal while making giant strides in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Various programmes such as PeDAS, eUsahawan, eRezeki, 100 Go Digital, Go-eCommerce and eBerkat are designed to help cultivate the digitalisation of local businesses.

During August, #SayaDigital will feature several MDEC-led programmes, providing businesses with various means to go digital and enabling Malaysians to be digitally skilled with speed and at scale.

The first two weeks of the movement focused on scaling digital adoption among businesses, while the subsequent two weeks provide opportunities for Malaysians to learn and enhance their digital skills.

The recent SME Digital Summit, the first of its kind in Malaysia, attracted over one million participants who learned about and implemented digital solutions to restart or expand their businesses.

For more on how #SayaDigital can guide your journey through digitalisation, go to www.mdec.my/sayadigital.

First published by Free Malaysia Today.

Are Technology and Innovation Changing Jobs, Skills and Our Perspective of Education? (Part 2 of 2)

Click here to read Part 1 of 2 !

Our Perspective of Education

In the first installment of this blogpost, I shared information about the skills being demanded by employers and the facts that support these assertions through the data we see on trends in jobs. In this second and final part, I summarise the role and attitude required of three parties that must come together to ensure that jobs and skills are matched.

Educational Institutions And Educators

While technology has shifted our paradigm, universities cannot forgo their focus on content development and learning analytics.

Online education platforms like Coursera, Microsoft and Udemy can play a useful role by tapping their expertise in online programme design, choice of tech platform, and digital marketing to develop the best content either with or for the traditional players.

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” is a quote from Albert Einstein.

Would you say this is the mantra that education institutions too, have got to start imbibing, so that they can continue to be a part of a student’s learning journey?

The Government And Its Agencies

In the case of the government and its agencies, I’ve shared what MDEC offers in facilitating employment and education. In fact, MDEC is well aware of the skill demands of the current economy and has been thus actively in conversation across ministries such as Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), MOE, MOSTI and MITI as well as government agencies such as HRDF and PERKESO – not forgetting the Economic Action Council too, to build a bridge that links jobs to skills demanded and vice versa.

Another MDEC avenue that will interest you is the #mydigitalworkforce week during the last week of August 2020. It aims to bring the talent supply and demand to focal point, to facilitate matching. Why we are organising this is because MDEC understands the need to explore ‘place and train’ as a new norm, so that people with baseline skills can be upskilled to requirements. Please go to mdec.my to know more about #mydigitalworkforce.

Employers

Perhaps first, let’s look at that worrying statement we often hear about – replacement of people by technology.

Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) opines that technology is a double-edged sword — it can replace workers, but it can also create new jobs. However, it is also true that for the vast majority of SMEs in Malaysia, which account for 40% of the total workforce and 98% of businesses, even automation is not yet an option.  

Nonetheless as competition stiffens, more businesses will take that Digital Leap to transform digitally ensuring they are relevant. And they will actively seek skilled talents! If the workforce does not keep up, many may fall behind in their output levels and affect business. Dealing with lacking skills in their existing talent pool or in newly sourced talent, will be an uphill task for employers!

Employers can counter these issues by increasing private sector cooperation in apprenticeship, training and internships; increasing collaborations with universities and career centres; increasing the level of on-the-job training for fresh graduates in the initial year of employment to overcome the issue of skills mismatch. The last-mentioned measure has worked well in Japan as workers in most of the sectors are reskilled in the first year of their employment to cater for the demands of the industry. Improving the quality of TVET for youths as quality and access to vocational training is another one, as it is linked to youth unemployment rates.

But the onus for change does not just rest on educators, governments and employers – students and the workforce must pitch in too!

To the workforce and student population, I say think about the fact that life skills are as crucial as digital skills or hard skills! Flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction can go a long way to help reduce the mismatch between skills employers demand, and what you graduates offer.

Survive Adversity Through Digital Avenues

You know, Malaysia’s strong history in the basis of education as well as its development through the times, brings it to a mid-point. A point that allows us to strategically chart paths ahead, and yet look back to learn from past successes and failures.

So, I have two messages I’d like to close with.

  • Digitalise, Cooperate! You can put employment and thus the economy back on course!

We need both education and labour market policies to synchronise; Education policies must be complemented by a matching job creation strategy that addresses the demand side of labour. Otherwise, our workers will be taking up jobs below their skill levels or moving to other countries, resulting in brain drain.

Speaking of the brain drain, some believe that there aren’t any jobs created at the level that skilled members of the workforce desire. Perhaps it is time we realise that digitalisation or technology may be the route to bridging this gap and bringing home talents;

For instance, more than 500,000 Malaysians work in the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) sector in Singapore. If Malaysia were to reduce the number of unskilled foreign workers and automate some jobs, we can pay our citizens at a certain level for them to do jobs that were previously outsourced to foreign workers.

  • Innovate to push the education industry to a space that can withstand the impact of COVID-19.

Looking at education worldwide, 90% of primary, secondary and tertiary learners are no longer physically able to go to school. Educators struggle to introduce solutions for remote learning, especially in emerging markets, where major issues are financing and available infrastructure.

All levels of education are facing challenges but higher education is the level that can activate some sort of learning revolution.

“Universities are distinctive as their students are both old enough to handle the rigours of online work and technologically savvy enough to navigate new platforms”, according to the World Economic Forum. It may be that traditional, campus-based universities must adapt and choose the right technologies or approaches for educating and engaging their students. All this, while continually tracking changes in how skills needed are evolving to serve the changing economy.

The thought to leave with you is this; students may not be the only ones entrusted with the responsibility of learning. It may be that institutions of education may have to do the same.

END OF PART 2 OF 2

From freelancing students to digital empire, the story of Softinn

Softinn team

PETALING JAYA: Jeeshen Lee and Caren Tee were still in university when they discovered that the Seri Malaysia and Tabung Haji hotel chains were among the largest in the country.

Ten years down the line, Seri Malaysia and Tabung Haji are among the 266 hotel brands the couple serve in Malaysia and Indonesia with their specialised software for hospitality properties.

“Back then, we were studying and taking up freelance jobs to pay for our tuition fees. So, when we heard there was a business competition with a RM10,000 cash prize, we knew we had to enter,” said Lee.

The competition, organised by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), required participants to submit a business plan. On top of the cash prize, there was also a follow-up grant to be won.

“Our idea was for a hotel software system,” Lee said. “We came up with it because a friend of ours spoke to us about the challenges he faced running his hotel.”

As part of their pitch for the MDEC competition, Lee said they had to come up with a list of possible clients. They included Seri Malaysia and Tabung Haji as they had among the largest inventory of rooms.

“We didn’t win, we got second place. But we didn’t give up, and what started as a means to win a cash prize evolved into a labour of love as MDEC sent us to conferences and pitching sessions.

“This helped us grow into entrepreneurs, and in 2012, we founded Softinn with a paid-up capital of RM5,000, mostly to rent servers.”

Softinn offers hotels software for check-in, reservations and front office operations, at prices affordable for small and boutique hotels.

“A five-star hotel will have the infrastructure, expensive IT systems, a digital marketing set-up and loyalty programmes.

“But for four-star hotels and anyone smaller, this would be too costly. That is where we can help.”

Essentially, Softinn provides their clients with the infrastructure and platform to improve productivity and operational efficiency while creating large savings.

What started off as a company comprising just Lee, Tee and two other employees to serve fewer than 30 customers has since grown into a team of 15 serving 1,267 customers.

“In the first two years, Tee and I did not draw a salary,” Lee said.

But in just eight years, Softinn expanded its empire from a single client, a three-storey shop lot hotel in Muar, Johor to over 1,000 properties including chains in Malaysia and Indonesia.

“We provide hotels with a website and a booking engine that allows travellers to book their stay directly with our clients. The travellers get a better deal and our client does not need to pay a commission to online travel agents.”

Lee said the system, which costs 80% less to run than international systems used by larger hotels, can help hotels save up to RM1,000 a month on commissions paid to agents.

The system also allows hotels to gain insight into customer behaviour, patterns and opportunities which can be used to refine their marketing strategies and optimise sales.

Lee said businesses have to embrace and unleash their digital potential.

“It’s not just about software, it is about what data can do for business. This is something which in the past may have been a luxury for smaller hotels, but not anymore.”

As for Softinn, Lee said they have not forgotten what MDEC did for him and his wife, adding that they were still working closely with them.

“We are collaborating with them on their SME Digitalisation grant to offer a 50% matching grant for boutique hotels to digitalise their businesses.”

Commenting on the success stories of local SMEs like Softinn, in conjunction with the launch of #SayaDigital Month, MDEC CEO Surina Shukri said: “The idea is for MDEC to empower businesses to take the digital leap to thrive in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and to achieve shared prosperity for all Malaysians.

“MDEC will continue to support businesses via digital empowerment platforms such as the highly successful SME Digital Summit, which has just concluded. This is our first in a series of events in conjunction with #SayaDigital Month, which aims to accelerate a digital society in Malaysia.”

The month-long campaign aims to expand digital skills and adoption among Malaysians and local businesses, empowering them to successfully navigate the new normal.

The first two weeks of the #SayaDigital movement will focus on empowering digital businesses, while the second half will provide opportunities for Malaysians to learn and enhance their digital skills.

Watch MDEC’s videos on digital businesses on www.mdec.my/sayadigital or at https://www.youtube.com/c/MYMDEC/ for inspiration.

First published on Free Malaysia Today

#SayaDigital #DigitalLeap #DigitalBusiness

JUALAN PIZZA PESERTA EUSAHAWAN MDEC CECAH RM100,000 SEBULAN

Berbekalkan modal RM30, seorang wanita di Kampung Bukit Bunga, Jeli, Kelantan, di sini boleh tersenyum apabila perniagaan pizzanya kini mampu meraih jualan mencecah enam angka sebulan.

Berkongsi pengalaman, Noraini Ahmad, 34, yang juga alumni program eUsahawan anjuran Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) berkata, tembok kebal untuk meraih kejayaan dalam perniagaan yang diusahakan sejak enam tahun lalu berjaya dipecahkan dengan mendigitalkan perniagaan.

Noraini berkata, ketika awal perniagaan, dia tidak yakin untuk menggunakan platform media sosial malahan mengakui hanya membuat pemasaran digital secara ala kadar sahaja.

“ Bagaimanapun, saya sedar jika ingin melihat perniagaan ini berkembang, saya perlu melakukan perubahaan. Oleh itu, saya belajar menghasilkan pizza yang bersaiz lebih besar untuk menarik perhatian pelanggan.

“ Pada masa sama, saya mula menyertai beberapa kelas pemasaran digital termasuk yang dianjurkan oleh MDEC,” katanya.

Terdahulu, Noraini berkongsi perkembangan perniagaan Pizza Jangok Mek Ani dalam sesi forum yang dikendalikan aktor yang juga usahawan, Fizo Omar sempena Program Menjana Ekonomi Digital di sini baru-baru ini.

Program yang mendapat kerjasama MDEC itu dirasmikan oleh Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri (Ekonomi), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Seramai 150 orang usahawan di Jeli menyertai program selama sehari itu yang mana antara pengisiannya termasuk untuk mendedahkan usahawan tentang manfaat program Perkhidmatan e-dagang Setempat (PeDAS) dan cara-cara untuk menjual produk di platform e-dagang seperti Shopee dan Lazada.

Bercerita lanjut, Noraini berkata, rekod jualan menghampiri RM100,000 yang dicatatkan itu dicapai selepas beberapa minggu perlaksanaan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) oleh kerajaan untuk membendung pandemik Covid-19.

Katanya, ketika itu dia mula melakukan pemasaran digital secara agresif, menyusun operasi perniagaan dan melantik runner di kawasan sekitar untuk membantu proses penghantaran pizza kepada pelanggan.

“ Berdasarkan maklum balas pelanggan, pizza keluaran syarikat saya istimewa kerana mempunyai tekstur roti yang lembut,” katanya.

Ketika ini, Noraini mempunyai 12 orang pekerja termasuk secara sambilan dan mampu mengeluarkan sekitar 450 kotak pizza setiap hari.

Menurutnya, ketika ini syarikatnya mengeluarkan tujuh jenis pizza iaitu ayam, makanan laut, tuna, daging, mix taste, ayam tom yam dan tuna with cheezy dengan harga bermula RM18 hingga RM28.

“ Bagi memberi lebih pilihan kepada pelanggan, saya turut menawarkan empat pilihan topping iaitu mushroom soup, funfries, lekor cheese dan cheezy wedges,” katanya.

Ketika ini, Noraini telah mempunyai 10 agen di sekitar Kelantan termasuk di Kota Bharu, Pasir Puteh, Pasir Mas, Tumpat dan Gua Musang.

Ditanya mengenai ilmu yang dipelajari sewaktu menyertai kursus eUsahawan MDEC, Noraini berkata, dia mendapat tips berguna membabitkan pemasaran digital.

“ Saya diajar bagaimana untuk menjawab pesanan pelanggan serta kaedah untuk membuat posting tentang pizza di media sosial . Saya berterima kasih kepada MDEC kerana inisiatif ini sangat membantu perniagaan untuk mendapat pelanggan di kawasan yang lebih luas,” katanya.

Oleh Mohd Firdaus Ismail

Are Technology and Innovation Changing Jobs, Skills and Our Perspective of Education? (Part 1 of 2)

MDEC Files

JOBS

COVID-19 accelerated tech adoption and already, Malaysia’s unemployment rose from 5% to 5.3% in a month, from April to May this year.  The nature of employment has consequently shifted from full time to part time jobs or to gig-economy jobs. 

The shift has also brought to light that so-called ‘low-skilled’ workers are vital to keep our lives going; During the lockdowns around the world, these workers were our frontliners to maintain delivery and take care of our basic needs. There is an argument that eventually, automation will take over many of these jobs.  

While there will always be services provided by low-skilled workers, most newer jobs may call upon different or higher skill sets. Being able to reskill and upskill to keep up with the times is key to sustaining the economy of a country! 

I’ve said this before – Creating jobs alone is not enough. Just as crucial is ensuring that workers are equipped to handle the shift in skills demanded by employers and the overall job market. And any mismatch of jobs to skills, reflects a gap in Malaysia’s education and a rapidly changing economy. 

Digital All The Way

So, what exactly are the skills demanded looking like these days?  

MDEC’s recent analysis among various job search sites (LinkedIn, Jobstreet, Monster, Indeed and Jobstore) show an increasing demand for digital jobs. 

Industries Are Going Digital

The results were that across all portals, there is an average of 3,895 IT-related jobs. Also, as mentioned just now, the total number of IT-related jobs advertised in all 5 portals, minding the possibility of duplications of course, amount to 20,000! And finally, do note that about 77% of IT jobs advertised on these portals are for experienced positions.  

Hardly a surprise at this stage, the IT-skew tells you a lot about the general direction that industries are moving in – digitalisation. 

Emerging Jobs Are Digital

Echoing this is LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report Malaysia. The top 10 jobs all have a digital component; Data scientist, data engineer and data analyst emerge in the top 12 jobs, reflecting the government’s commitment to securing Malaysia as a leader in big data.

LinkedIn also reports that e-Commerce is fueling demand for hard and soft skilled talent in the internet economy! Online platforms need technical talent to build apps and online sales portals for instance. But also, they need those who can leverage such platforms and engage online customers – jobs like digital marketing specialists and community managers come to mind.

SKILLS

Non-negotiable Skills In This Digital World

Besides the skills demanded above, the structure of working has changed – from full time to employment contracts, gigs and flexible arrangements. So, graduates must get used to pitching for gigs and working for multiple clients at the same time. Soft skills like storytelling, writing skills and presentation skills are becoming essential skills to secure gigs.

Graduates must be agile and develop problem solving skills. Transferable skills will be key to landing and keeping a job.

MDEC’s Long Game

Well, in case you wondered how MDEC has been and will continue to support students and the workforce through the transitions demanded of them, let me quickly share three avenues you can immediately tap:

  1. MDEC’s Let’s Learn Digital is a partnership with Coursera that offers access to 3,800 courses, free until September 30th! That is a huge opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn specific skills in demand.
  2. GLOW or the Global Online Workforce, a national programme, is designed to enable Malaysians to be a part of the global online workforce and earn income. Go to glowmalaysia.com and mdec.my for more information.
  3. #mydigitalmaker is a movement to prepare Malaysian students as we head towards IR4.0, to future proof their education and careers.

Essentially, technology and innovation are changing jobs and skill-demands. Clearly, three parties have their respective roles to play in moving education forward – educators, employers and the government.  Their roles will be elaborated in the closing installment of this two-parter.

For now, I have one more avenue for you to tap if you were a student, fresh grad or member of the Malaysian workforce. It is #mydigitalworkforce week which is coming up in the second week of August. It aims to bring the talent supply and demand to focal point, to facilitate matching. Why we are organising this is because MDEC understands the need to explore ‘place and train’ as a new norm, so that people with baseline skills can be upskilled to requirements.

Please go to mdec.my to know more about #mydigitalworkforce.

END OF PART 1 OF 2

Click here to read Part 2 of 2

MALAYSIA 5.0: UNITY ALLIANCE

Scroll down for Malay version/Skrol ke bawah untuk versi Bahasa Melayu

Malaysian innovation must rise to overcome the challenges of the post-Covid recovery. When we look back upon this critical time, we might even appreciate the unique opportunity it has given us to upgrade some of the legacy infrastructure and future proof it to facilitate new growth in the digital economy.

In the 4IR world, digital information and big data will serve as the fuel that powers the new economy. Societies will increasingly enjoy decentralised access to everything within it – a new reality of sorts that presents game-changing opportunities. However, this also raises serious concerns.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), tasked with overseeing the digitalisation of the nation, must fulfil its responsibility to integrate digital society onto a unified platform that serves all its participants efficiently, ensuring that traffic moves smoothly on its networks and that all members of society are equitably served.

A key aspect of the Malaysia 5.0 vision is building this digital infrastructure with a unified alliance of stakeholders both within government and across private enterprise. This “Unity Alliance” is an economic coalition that will serve society in its migration into the digital age.

We see many great initiatives from different agencies, designed to stimulate the growth of fintech as a means of accelerating the adoption of a digital economy. MDEC will continuously support these initiatives by providing a unified framework that they can interoperate on – easily and cost-effectively – across the entire national digital ecosystem.

Malaysia 5.0, properly implemented, will function as the tracks that the digital economy will travel on. If this sounds impossibly ambitious for a country like Malaysia to achieve, then it only underlines the importance of designing a system that caters to our own particular competitive strengths, such as in Islamic Fintech, where Malaysia can bid to play a leadership role in an exciting sunrise industry.

Malaysia 5.0 is inspired by Japan’s Society 5.0 initiative – a concept that proposes to put society at the centre of technology so that technology serves society and not the other way around. It also allows for the management of disruptive new systems, such as fintech, to ensure that benefits accrue fairly across society without bias.

To achieve this, Malaysia 5.0 will need to intermediate digital marketplaces, banks and fintech companies and make them interoperable for public services and commercial counter-parties. This omni-channel access creates the connectivity, services and relationships needed to build the kind of digital economy which supports all members of society, especially with small- and medium-sized enterprises, a sector that is most vulnerable to the effects of digital transition.

Malaysia 5.0 not only helps in the creation of new spokes in the wheel of the digital economy, but – in so doing – also serves as a centralised hub for Government to provide its regulatory oversight and public services. The result is massive efficiency gains and comprehensive oversight built into one unified system.

In areas where we enjoy competitive strengths, such as Islamic Fintech, Malaysia 5.0 positions Malaysia in the global marketplace of banks, insurers, telcos and etc, to provide Islamic digital services. Certainly, I am the first to acknowledge that we are far away from leading the world as an innovation economy, but the first step towards progressing on this path is recognising the need for an initiative, such as Malaysia 5.0, to build a national framework that stimulates and supports our future digital economy.

There has never been a better time to think creatively and implement big change. If we unify around this objective, then we can hope to not only recover lost ground from the pandemic, but also leap-frog into innovation that will serve our future digital age generations. Unity Alliance truly can be an alliance that serves all Malaysians in our shared common goals for recovery, progress, and well-being.


Inovasi Malaysia mesti dipertingkatkan untuk mengatasi cabaran pemulihan pasca Covid-19. Apabila merenung kembali waktu yang mencabar ini, kita akan menghargai peluang unik yang diberikan untuk menambah baik beberapa infrastruktur sedia ada bagi memastikan pertumbuhan baharu dalam ekonomi digital di masa hadapan.

Dalam era Revolusi Industri 4.0 (IR 4.0), maklumat digital dan data raya (Big Data) akan berfungsi sebagai ‘bahan utama’ yang akan menggerakkan ekonomi baharu. Masyarakat pula lebih mudah untuk menikmati kemudahan dan akses  serta peluang baharu namun wujud juga beberapa kebimbangan.

MDEC sebagai agensi yang diberi mandat untuk ‘mendigitalkan negara’ harus melaksanakan tanggungjawabnya bagi mengintegrasikan masyarakat ke platform digital yang disatukan . Tanggungjawab ini termasuklah untuk memberi khidmat dengan cekap memastikan pergerakan trafik digital sentiasa lancar serta semua kelompok rakyat dilayan dengan adil.

Aspek utama visi Malaysia 5.0 adalah membangunkan  infrastruktur digital dengan kerjasama kerajaan dan swasta. “Unity Alliance” ini merupakan gabungan ekonomi yang akan memberi perkhidmatan kepada masyarakat yang beralih ke era digital.

MDEC melihat banyak inisiatif hebat yang melibatkan pelbagai agensi telah dirancang untuk merangsang pertumbuhan Teknologi Kewangan sebagai alat untuk mempercepat penerapan ekonomi digital. MDEC akan menyokong inisiatif ini dengan menyediakan kerangka kerja bagi membolehkan ia dapat beroperasi dengan mudah serta menjimatkan kos keseluruhan ekosistem digital kebangsaan.

Malaysia 5.0, sekiranya dilaksanakan dengan betul akan berfungsi sebagai landasan untuk ekonomi digital bergerak. Jika ada yang beranggapan bahawa impian ini terlalu tinggi untuk dicapai oleh Malaysia, ini memberi petanda bahawa pentingnya untuk kita merancang sistem yang menyokong persaingan sengit sesama sendiri. Teknologi Kewangan Islam sebagai contoh telah membuktikan Malaysia boleh berusaha untuk memainkan peranan sebagai pemimpin dalam industri yang sedang berkembang pesat.

Malaysia 5.0 diilhamkan berdasarkan inisiatif Japan 5.0 Society yang berhasrat untuk meletakkan rakyat negara itu di pusat teknologi sehingga membolehkan teknologi melayani masyarakat dan bukan sebaliknya. Hal ini juga memungkinkan pengelolaan sistem baharu seperti Fintech untuk memastikan bahawa keuntungan dapat dinikmati secara adil oleh rakyat.

Bagi mencapai hasrat ini, Malaysia 5.0 perlu mengintegrasikan Pasaran Digital, Bank dan Syarikat Teknologi Kewangan untuk perkhidmatan awam dan rakan niaga komersial. Akses ini mewujudkan hubungan dan perkhidmatan diperlukan untuk membina ekonomi digital yang menyokong semua anggota masyarakat, termasuklah Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana (PKS) yang paling terkesan disebabkan peralihan digital.

Malaysia 5.0 tidak hanya membantu dalam penciptaan inti baharu dalam putaran ekonomi digital sebaliknya juga sebagai pusat bagi kerajaan untuk melaksanakan pengawasan, menyediakan peraturan dan perkhidmatan awamnya. Pada akhirnya, hasil yang dijangka ialah berlaku peningkatan kecekapan serta pengawasan menyeluruh yang terbentuk dalam satu sistem.

Di kawasan yang menyaksikan kita berdepan persaingan sengit seperti Teknologi Kewangan Islam, Malaysia 5.0 akan menempatkan negara kita di pasaran global bank, syarikat insurans, telekomunikasi , menyediakan perkhidmatan digital Islam dan sebagainya. Sudah tentu saya menerima kenyataan bahawa Malaysia masih jauh untuk memimpin dunia menerusi inovasi. Namun demikian, langkah pertama untuk mencapai hasrat berkenaan bermula dengan inisiatif seperti Malaysia 5.0 yang akan merangsang dan menyokong ekonomi digital masa depan kita.

Inilah waktunya untuk berfikir secara kreatif dan melaksanakan perubahan besar. Sekiranya kita bersatu untuk menjayakan objektif ini, negara bukan hanya akan pulih daripada pandemik ini sebaliknya melakukan lonjakan digital untuk generasi masa depan. Unity Alliance boleh menjadi satu jalinan kerjasama yang melayani semua rakyat bersama untuk pemulihan, kemajuan dan kesejahteraan.

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