Malaysia Budget 2019 is all set to be announced on 2 November 2018 by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and ahead of the tabling, Human Resources spoke to HR leaders and managers across industries to learn what's on their wishlist from this year's edition.

1. Bridge the gap between academia and industry

This is clearly the number one priority for HR leaders in Malaysia today, reiterated by most of the practitioners we spoke to. There is a huge gap between academia and requirements at work, and our interviewees propose a number of solutions for policy makers to consider:
  • Incentivise working professionals to be part of university programmes
  • Training grant or subsidy for industry-education collaboration
  • Leadership development of graduates through centre of excellence
Bilal Waris, head of organisational development and group talent management, Axiata Group, believes that in order to fill that gap, government should look at options where working professionals are given incentives to be part of university programmes. This will incentivise them to teach use-cases of the professional environment and how they can bridge the gap.

Loo Swee Ping, group HR manager at Acacia Fabrics, is another firm believer in the need to bring skills of university students up to mark for real-life work environments. In fact, Acacia Fabrics has starting planting the seeds on students from higher education (colleges/universities of related fields) by regularly conducting talk about its industry (that is, the fabrics business).

"We expose them to fabrics knowledge, differences of fabrics in terms of quality, brands, supply chain process, trends and so forth in hopes that they are more prepared to the real working environment upon graduating," says Loo Swee Ping, noted that this is equally an important part of the employer branding.

She adds: "To relate this to the wishlist of Malaysia Budget 2019, we hope that there will be some form of training grant or subsidy available for industry-education collaboration because we believe by having more of this practical knowhow early, graduates are more open to creative thinking later."

Rosfariza Mohd Amin (Rose), HR from Muhibbah Engineering, adds to this the need for budgeting for continuous upskilling initiatives, as well as leadership development for graduates under an established centre of excellence.

She adds: "It will help to equip and promote the graduates to be competitive and employable with local or local-international established companies. This centre of excellence can host the facilities for accelerated learning and development."

2. Residency opportunity for critical skills

Concerns for employee mobility and talent acquisition professionals are typically around the dearth of specific skills in the market.

Highlighting the need to address this in the era of Industry 4.0, Bilal Waris shares further advice for policy designers: "Skills that are relevant to the digital economy should be given a PR or residency opportunity."

3. Government contribution to HRDF fund

In a bid for the Malaysian workforce to be upskilled, 20 Sectorial Training Committees (STCs) have been established since 2014 to identify relevant programmes needed by the industries especially on courses that are rarely available, by Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF).

In line with that, Bilal Waris highlights: "Government contribution in HRDF should be increased, which will increase the participation rate from corporates."

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