Malaysia and Industry 4.0: Executives Cite Need for Skilled Workers as Top Concern

November 30, 2017by

Shortfalls in talent and direction, and a general lack of awareness about the profound industrial revolution underway worldwide are the top concerns of senior business and government executives assessing Malaysia’s readiness for “Industry 4.0” — the automation and digitization of industrial processes through robotics and other emerging technologies.

The survey, including recommendations was released by Malaysia’s Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), meeting today in Kuala Lumpur.

Created as an informal sounding board composed of distinguished national and international leaders in economics, business, science and technology, GSIAC is mandated with helping Malaysia reach developed country status by 2020. The Council’s Secretariat is hosted by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).

The assessment was overseen by GSIAC member Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Axilor Ventures, India, who led in-depth interviews with nine of the nation’s prominent business executives and government officials. The work helps inform and complement a policy document on Industry 4.0 being developed by Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

The world’s three past industrial revolutions evolved from the invention of the steam engine, from the electrification and expansion of industries for mass production, and from the digital revolution produced by computers and information technologies.

The 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is being driven by the convergence of advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Industry 4.0 includes the digitization of the manufacturing sector, with embedded sensors in virtually all product components and manufacturing equipment, ubiquitous cyber-physical systems, and analysis of all relevant data and has the potential to disrupt almost every industry in every country. Furthermore, it is evolving much faster and with greater impact than any of the three previous industrial revolutions.

In an ever more globalized world, Malaysia is compelled to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution in order to stay competitive.

Automation and digitization of local manufacturing could help address two major challenges in Malaysia: over dependency of low-skilled foreign labours in the manufacturing sector, and the need to increase the productivity of small and medium sized enterprises.

But the nation needs to be better ready to confront the challenges foreseen, the executives say.

The interviewees were questioned on four broad topics: Government policies, industry readiness, talent development, and start-up scenarios.

The most commonly cited concerns: a lack of talents in related technologies and applications, unclear direction from the Government on Industry 4.0, and an overall lack of awareness among related stakeholders, particularly the industry.

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