On Monday, Malaysia, along with many nations celebrated International Worker’s Day.
For many, it was an opportunity to take a break from work, especially since we were fortunate that this year, it coincided with the weekend.
While we celebrate the achievement of our nation’s workforce, it is equally important to spend some time pondering the future. In this case, the future source of livelihood for the millions in need of quality jobs and career advancement to further enhance the standard of living for all Malaysians.
As the world moves through its fourth industrial revolution, it is important for the nation to address the future employment needs.
The future of products, businesses, manufacturing and services within Industry 4.0 needs no introduction. This column has discussed the possible scenarios extensively in previous articles.
With respect to the automotive industry, the major talking points specific to employment and career advancements will most certainly revolve around job scope evolution and talent development.
It is said that throughout all the industrial revolutions, including this fourth one, manufacturing is the first sector to feel the impacts. The culmination of the first three revolutions, which foresees rapid advances in connective automation, will not only disrupt blue collar jobs, but also the while collar positions that manage them.
Even before Industry 4.0, the last few decades have seen the global disappearance of jobs that require both precision and repetition, replaced by multi-axial robots that have taken over jobs such as welding, machining and assembly.
While this phenomenon was more apparent in developed countries – Malaysia, will most likely face the same issues, as the cheap labour commodity contradicts with our ambitions for high income status. Imagine now, the disruption to higher level jobs due to enhanced connectivity and data analytics, synonymous with Industry 4.0, paired with current automation technology.
Industry 4.0 may sound like a scary outlook. For me, negative impacts can be managed with positive takeaways. Disruptions affect everyone – but they are also opportunities, as this very disruption also resets the game, paving chances for those who reach up to remain strong players.
It is best to note that while some jobs will be reduced because of Industry 4.0, new jobs will be created – it is not meant to eliminate livelihood, but rather a shift and remodel in workplace demands.
In conclusion, what must take place is the holistic planning and implementation of human capital development programs that shift towards the demands of the future. After all, it is for this very reason the automotive industry was created – to spur high value jobs through the participation of Malaysians in an industry that demands technological prowess.
It is my hope that by the first day of May of next year, we are closer to this goal.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.