Need for skilled workers is top concern in Industry 4.0, execs say

Digital devices and data. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30: 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).

According to a press statement, 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,” the assessment notes. 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,” the assessment says.

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.

However, 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.

The report (available in full at elaborates on eight major recommendations:

• Strengthen talent development
• Set clear governmental directions
• Increase awareness
• Focus on the 20 per cent of corporations with the conviction to embrace Industry 4.0
• Leverage large corporations
• Create a conducive ecosystem; e.g. greater research and development
• Improve Internet infrastructure
• Focus on the service sector

MIGHT is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. MIGHT, the implementing agency for Science to Action (S2A) national agenda, plays a key role in developing Malaysia’s high technology for business through its role as a think-tank, private-public consensus building and business nurturing platforms. It is an organisation built on the strength of public-private partnership with more than 100 members, both local and international, from industry, government and academia. — Bernama