KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — The participation of the private and public sectors in the National Employment Council (NEC) is a strong testament to Malaysia’s collaborative commitment towards uplifting the livelihood of the rakyat by addressing unemployment challenges and focusing on skills enhancement and digitalisation.

This is the view of Microsoft Malaysia managing director K. Raman and ‎Infineon Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Chee Hong Lee who, along with other industry and corporate leaders as well as academicians, have been appointed to the NEC.

On Feb 9, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin chaired the virtually-held second NEC meeting and conveyed that over 160,000 new job opportunities are expected to be created this year through committed investments as a result of close coordination between the government and industries.

Raman said Microsoft welcomes the government’s active engagement and close coordination with the private sector to accelerate Malaysia’s economic recovery and increased resilience.

“Our participation in the NEC will focus on identifying digital economy job opportunities as well as providing input to creating a policy environment that will competitively position Malaysia’s digital workforce, in line with our mission to empower every person and every organisation on this planet to achieve more,” he told Bernama today.

Despite the unprecedented constraints we all find ourselves in, Raman said, there is hope and opportunity.

“Malaysia is open for business with its future anchored on a digital-first economy, and the digital workforce will be an important driver for the nation’s economic recovery. People are the most important renewable resources that we must continue to invest in, as every job will increasingly require digital skills,” he said.

Raman said Microsoft is committed to supporting the government and empowering the nation’s digital workforce.

“As part of Microsoft’s response to the pandemic, we announced our global commitment to bring digital skills to more than 25 million people worldwide. We offer free access to learning paths and content from LinkedIn Learnings, Microsoft Learn and GitHub Learning Lab. We are encouraged that more than 36,000 Malaysians thus far have accessed these free learning resources to gain new digital skills,” he said.

To ensure Microsoft also reaches out to people most affected by COVID-19, Raman said it actively partners with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to upskill and reskill target communities, including job seekers and youths working in the gig economy.

“Additionally, Microsoft has accelerated its partnerships with the education sector to ensure the current curricula are industry ready. This is part of our shared goals to help future-proof graduates with relevant industry skills and resources which not only helps produce employment-ready graduates, but also entrepreneurial talents with a drive to create jobs as well.

“In line with the objectives of the NEC, we will continue to collaborate with the government and our partners to equip more Malaysians with digital skills. We believe that expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery and for Malaysians to succeed in Malaysia’s growing digital-first economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chee of Infineon said NEC is definitely the right platform for the private sector and government agencies to take ownership and execute the concerted actions.

“The initiatives updated by the specialised task force are comprehensive and aggressive. I am confident it will be effective not only to create more jobs but also to fix other long outstanding challenges, for example the mismatch of skills set and employability,” said Chee.

He said the private sector will act as a sounding board to give timely feedback to the government to refine the strategies and ensure the executions are effective.

On retaining employment, job creation as well as upskilling and reskilling amid the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, Chee said these are critical topics that both the private sector and government must work together to address, understand and define the right framework of actions to fix the issues effectively.

“The requirements for upskilling and reskilling are not the only topics during the COVID-19 pandemic but also the urgency for the readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0).

“For example, we must close the gap of understanding between the strategies of the government and the needs and requirements of the private sector,” said Chee.

He said the desires and key performance indicators of the respective initiatives under the NEC are clearly defined.

“The NEC will ensure the defined initiatives would address the challenges in all possible sectors and not just be beneficial to a specific group of people or industry,” said Chee.