Leaders in Malaysia urged to invest in upskilling workforce

10 million workers, or 60% of Malaysia’s workforce, will need to be retrained and upskilled over the next five years.
By: | December 12, 2022

To remain globally competitive, Malaysia will need to spend about RM300 billion (US$68 billion) over the next five years to upskill 10 million workers, said Dr Barjoyai Bardai, an Economist Professor at the Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.

He urged more efforts to be put into upskilling the local workforce so they can move up the technological ladder as the country moves towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Upskilling workers, he added will also help increase their income and bridge the income inequality level in the country.

The projected cost of upskilling the workforce, Dr Barjoyai argued, should not be a deterrent, seeing that the government has spent RM80 billion (US$18 billion) annually on subsidies. “The government will have to spend some RM300 billion over five years to retrain and upskill 60% of our workforce, or 10 million of them who are unskilled. Otherwise, we will never make it and other countries will continue to overtake us,” he cautioned, according to The Sun Daily. 

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This investment in the workforce, he added, will also help Malaysia get out of the middle-income trap, which refers to a situation in which a country cannot compete internationally in standardised, labour-intensive goods because wages are relatively too high. Paradoxically, it also cannot compete in higher value-added activities on a broad enough scale because productivity is relatively too low.