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Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia) Mr Suhaimi Ali shares insights on how to future-proof your workforce and tackle the challenges of a rapidly digitalizing economy.

Kuala Lumpur
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In a recent speech, the Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia), Mr Suhaimi Ali, discussed the need to spur digital-ready talent and future-proof the workforce in Malaysia. He pointed out that the pandemic has exposed deep-rooted labour market fragilities and structural inequalities which makes it a timely conversation to stay relevant amid a shifting and competitive landscape for today's employees and employers. He also mentioned the vital structural shifts that continue to reconfigure the economy, with resulting implications on the future of work.

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One of the key shifts Mr Ali discussed is the "digital and sustainability revolution." The increased adoption of technologies such as AI and IoT, coupled with rising urgency on the sustainability agenda will reshape industries. This will demand new skill sets and unlock opportunities, but also create challenges for businesses and employees. In order to stay relevant in this new landscape, employees must stay current with the latest technologies and skills. Businesses must also adapt and invest in the necessary technologies and skills to stay competitive.

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Another shift Mr Ali discussed is the "shifting work preferences." This includes the expansion of gig workers, increased remote or flexible working arrangements, and a dynamic workforce with more frequent career switches. This shift in work preferences has a direct impact on how companies hire and retain talent, and how they structure their workforce. Companies must be more flexible and adaptable in their hiring and retention strategies in order to attract and retain top talent.

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Mr Ali also discussed the "ageing population and the need for diverse participation." Malaysia is swiftly ageing, requiring changes in the labour market policies to cater to an older working segment as well as encouraging higher workforce participation among women and other minority groups. At the same time, we need to resolve the issue of relatively higher unemployment rates among youths. The ageing population has a direct impact on the workforce and the economy, and it is important for businesses and policymakers to address this issue. Policies must be put in place to ensure that older workers are not left behind in the workforce and that there are opportunities for diverse participation in the workforce.

Finally, Mr Ali discussed the "growing generational gap in the workforce." Up to four different generations now coexist in many workplaces. Each has varying perspectives on leadership, learning and workplace culture. This gap in perspective can lead to difficulties in communication and understanding within the workplace, and it is important for businesses to address this issue in order to maintain a cohesive and productive workforce. Businesses must understand and respect the different perspectives and work styles of each generation and find ways to bridge the gap in order to create a cohesive and productive workforce.

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The digital revolution is expected to increase Malaysia's labour productivity by 30% and create up to 500,000 jobs by 2025, but also poses challenges. Mr Ali pointed out that "the need for specialised skills can lead to a widening talent gap if left unaddressed." He also mentioned that 51% of firms surveyed by BNM faced difficulty in hiring workers, largely due to mismatches of skills for the mid and high-skilled segments.

In addressing these challenges, Mr Ali proposed three strategies for future-proofing the workforce: equipping the workforce with the right skills, employing a "good jobs strategy," and strengthening collaboration among ecosystem partners. He emphasized that "building back better" calls for increased policy coherence, particularly between economic employment and social policies, and a whole-of-society approach. He stressed that attracting and nurturing the right talent is crucial for any organisation of the future. It is critical to begin thinking beyond policies for short-term recovery and start building a future of work that is safer, fairer and greener.

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Read the full speech here:

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