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Malaysia 2015: PIKOM, MDeC, GE, Microsoft, Hitachi Sunway

AvantiKumar | Jan. 5, 2015
The first of a special interview series featuring insights from industry leaders, which include some of the key challenges and opportunities for Malaysia's ICT industry in 2015.

2. ICT growth in 2014
IT spending has registered significant growth as reflected in the growth of value added services, which forecasted to register 13.6 percent growth in 2014 by shoring up its value added services to RM68.0 [US$19.43] billion from RM59.8 [US$17.09] billion in 2013. The overall ICT Services sector is also poised to grow by 12.7 percent in 2015 and is expected to touch the RM77.7 [US$22.20] billion mark

3. Challenges faced by the industry and actions from PIKOM
One of the key challenges would be the new tax regime GST. Currently majority of the ICT devices such as computers are enjoying zero sales tax. Hence, it is expected to see a price increase in ICT devices in the short run following the implementation of GST and thereafter, poised to stabilise once the subsidy rationalization settles down.

Next, as pointed by the PIKOM ICT Job Market Outlook 2014, Human Capital is always a challenge in our industry.  There has been a widening gap of remunerations package of ICT professionals between Malaysia and our neighbour countries in the region such as Vietnam and Thailand. In addition, the declining graduates of ICT field which registered a drip of 63% from 63,000 in 2002 to 19,500 in 2012.

Adding to the disparity is the misaligned skillsets of fresh graduate which are not meeting the current demand of employers. Also, in the recent years, the new trends such as big data and social media created many new job functions in high demand which are unfortunately lack of skilled talent in the market.  PIKOM is working with Universities to introduce Computer Science courses by giving more focus to new areas of concern like cloud computing, big data analytics and mobile computing.

- In 2013, we have formulated a 5-year plan with 6 key thrusts which will govern our main focus and initiatives which calls for the industry to achieve RM95 [US$27.15] billion revenue by 2017. The key result areas are well defined:
- Globalise the Malaysian ICT industry;
- Increase competitiveness of the ICT industry;
- Promote human capital development;
- Lead the digital trend;
- Enhance value to members;
- Accelerate growth of Malaysian ICT demand.

4. Talent pool continues to be a key challenge
- Definitely, we lack skilled talents in the country across several areas of expertise. Statistics from the Ministry of Education showed that there were more than 119,000 students enrolled in ICT courses in 2002, with a production of more than 53,000 graduates.

However, by 2012 both figures fell drastically to 80,000 and 19,500 respectively. A number of factors have been cited as the reason for the decline in the supply of ICT graduates:-

a) The perception that the ICT industry does not offer promising career opportunities especially the disillusionment arising from the "dotcom bubble burst" in 2000. Since then prospective students have been gravitating to other emerging courses especially health-related studies that Government also strongly promulgated

b) A widespread misconception among students that ICT courses require extraordinary skills in mathematics, which in fact is only a necessity for computing and engineering sciences, and no other ICT disciplines that mainly emphasizes on innovation and creativity skills;

c) A lack of current knowledge about ICT trends, opportunities and career prospects among school teachers and counsellors, which also significantly contribute to dampening student motivation;

d) The lack of professional recognition and prestige in the ICT industry, unlike that which is accorded to the fields of medicine, engineering, architecture, law and accountancy.

e) The Computer Science paper at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level is only considered as an elective subject and is not taken into account for Matriculation in-take, thus further discouraging interest in the ICT field

On top of that, the fast pace of technology has created jobs non-existent five years ago such as Data scientist, social media specialist, etc.  We do not have such curriculums in the varsity to produce fresh graduates nor enough experienced skilled professionals in the market.

In July, we released the annual ICT Job Market Outlook study and unveiled an underlying concerning trend which would risk impacting Malaysia's long and on-going endeavour to grow the local ICT-skilled knowledge workforce which is the significantly widening salaries gaps for the skilled ICT professionals. Even though the salary of ICT professionals is increasing steadily, we tend to lose out to the upcoming economies in the region and this excludes the developed countries like SG, Australia, UK and US. - For instance, our ICT professionals are earning 1.43 and 1.50 times lesser than their counterparts in Thailand and Vietnam respectively.

To address the issue, PIKOM is working with MDeC, Talent Corp and Malaysia Quality Accreditation (MQA), an agency under MOE), via our Government Affairs Committee (headed by Dr Dzaharudin Mansor - PIKOM Councillor) together with multiples ministries and agencies to address these computer science curriculum problems by better aligning them with the international standards, outlining the clear categorization of the different disciplines to enable the employers to identify right qualifications.


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