Lack of digital economy talent spells trouble for Malaysia

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PETALING JAYA: A majority of companies next year will hunt for talent in smart technology to cut cost and grow a digital , says an economist, adding that they might have to rely on foreigners to fill these positions.

Economist Yeah Kim Leng said as the economic slowdown continues next year due to external factors, companies have no choice but to lower costs and improve efficiency through e-commerce and artificial intelligence.


“It is a matter of survival. They need data strategists and technology scientists to come up with new business models and innovations.

“But does not have sufficient talent to do this. We would need Malaysians residing overseas to return or we may have to depend on foreigners” he told FMT.

Yeah, the former group chief economist of RAM Holdings Berhad, urged the government to create a sufficient workforce in data and artificial intelligence in every sector from next year as companies compete with one another through technology.

Giving an example, Yeah, a professor at Sunway University’s Business School, said the taxi industry has been completely taken over by e-hailing services.

He said similarly, Fintech services will take over the roles of banks.

“There are still a lot of opportunities in these industries.”

In the medical sector, meanwhile, Malaysia needs experts to introduce smaller and sophisticated equipment to diagnose people effectively.

Yeah said the retail industry would face losses as more people opt for online shopping.

Smart technology will be the order for every level of the service sector.

He said the trade war between the US and China meant that the global economic slowdown would worsen next year.

He said the Malaysian economy’s forecast to grow between 4.5 to 5% is higher than the US and China’s predicted economic growth of 3% and 6% respectively.


Economist Hoo Ke Ping echoed Yeah’s fears, saying the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had forecasted a weaker world economy, with countries going into recession.
“The forecast is just a slight reduction from previous years. The key for us is that both China and US take measures to improve their economy. Otherwise, there could be fears of a slump.”

“Malaysia being a trading nation would depend on external demand which will slow down our economy.”

“We import a huge amount of electronics and we process it and sell it back to other countries. But if the demand drops, we will suffer.”

Hoo said besides oil prices putting a pressure on the government’s expenditure, tourism too would be affected as many from China tighten their belts.

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