In a dynamic convergence of thought leaders, professionals, and visionaries, the "Go Global Series 2.0: Navigating into the Future" conference, organized by Start IIX and Junior Chamber International, Johor Bahru, sparked discussions around a pivotal theme—"Regenerative Economy: New Model, New Talent, New Requirement?" Moderated by Hanif Marzuki, CEO of Youth Ventures Asia, with a distinguished panel, including Michelle Sagan (Asia School of Business), Nazib Sulaiman (TalentCorp), Jess Chia (Jobbuilder), and Naguib Md Nor (Strand Aerospace), delved into the far-reaching impacts of this emerging economic model on Malaysian talents, specifically the youth, and the rapidly evolving landscape of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Talents are humans, does your company create a positive impact for humanity?
Michelle Sagan, Director of ASB, laid a robust foundation for the discussion by shedding light on the transformative outlook of Malaysia's workforce over the ensuing decade. She highlighted a stark reality—post-pandemic, only a mere 16% of employees reported feeling genuinely engaged in their professional roles. Her emphasis on the pervasive "great resignation" and the concerning trend of "quiet quitting" spotlighted a fundamental challenge that the youth workforce faces in the country.
She encourages organizations to rapidly shift their mindset from just taking care of shareholders to a more inclusive model that includes stakeholders. This means taking into account not just "Profit" but also "People, Planet, and Purpose". This will not just impact the society as a whole, it will also change the perception of potential talents; who are now more inclined towards positive values. Creating a clear career path is also a must as it motivates talent to do more as they see progression and growth. She concluded by asking a question for us to ponder, "Do we have the right (work) culture to help humans be human?"
Increasing High Skilled Jobs leads to better opportunities (and investments) for the economy!
Nazib Sulaiman, Sector Head of Industry and Partnership Talent Corp, introduced a pragmatic dimension to the dialogue. Grounding his insights into data-driven decision-making, he revealed the nexus between Malaysia's journey towards sustainable development and the empowerment of its youth. He also noted the aspirations of Malaysia's youth population, which ardently demand a more progressive and sustainable plan for the future.
Amid the discourse, the significance of the SME sector emerged with potent force as they are responsible for generating 90% of jobs within Malaysia. There is a pressing need to bridge the gap between evolving job requirements and the skill sets the local youth workforce brings to the table. Most SMEs provide low to mid-skilled job opportunities that require little to no training. Only 30% of the opportunities are high-skilled jobs. While Malaysia is producing on average 4 million graduates per year, only about 2 million job opportunities are available. While mismatch is still a big issue, increasing the number of high-skilled jobs for local talent should also be the focus as it can bring in more high-value investment.
Stepping up efforts to attract high-value talent in a competitive job landscape.
The conversation escalated to the transformative realm of evolving job roles within rapidly expanding organizations. Jess Chia, a venerable figure with 18 years of experience in HR and the CEO and Founder of Jobbuilder, seamlessly threaded the discussion through Johor's burgeoning investments and the resulting profusion of job opportunities. These economic currents have a direct resonance with the aspirations of the youth—a demographic significantly impacted by the wave of changes.
Foreign direct investments have surged, birthing a new era of opportunities for Malaysia's young talents. Chia's emphasis on the calibration of competency levels, coupled with an openness to adapt to novel recruitment methods, speaks to the Malaysian youth's ambitions to thrive in an evolving job landscape. She also stresses the importance of businesses stepping up their ESG effort and keeping up with the current trends in order to be more competitive in attracting high-value talents.
Changing the worldview of local youths; increasing standards will lead to an increase in quality!
Naguib Md Nor, CEO of Strand Aerospace and President of the Malaysia Aerospace Industry Association (MAIA), provided a panoramic view of SME competitiveness on the global stage. He first explains the difference between Tier 1 FDI with Tier 2 and Tier 3, where the latter only requires a doer. He also highlights that it's hard for us to pull in Tier 1 investors because of the unreadiness of our talent and supply chain. For Tier 1 investments that mostly come from large companies, scaling to another country should be as easy as Plug and Play.
His insights on attracting tier 1 investors through the cultivation of local talents. As we increase exposure to local talents about the global landscape, they will start to explore and understand how they can contribute. Local talent should also have the ability to function and not feel overwhelmed in an environment that consists of high-performing talent. By nurturing the thinking level of local talent, we will indirectly impact their skills and determination to strive in the long run.
To make sure our supply chain is up to par, we should start thinking bigger. Local companies should strive for market dominance across Southeast Asia. Solve a painful problem and create a product or service that can be exported and cater to a large global audience. This will indirectly create a training ground for local talents to go global while directly contributing to the country's GDP.
Charting a Path Forward for Malaysian Talents and SMEs
The panel agrees that it is an open secret that everything is shifting towards sustainability whether it is trying to achieve Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations, focusing on developing ESG-conscious policy, or adopting different types of regenerative economic frameworks. The only way to be ahead is to either give high-value jobs to potential talents or strive to achieve more than just profit in order to attract driven and passionate talents. As the quality level of our talent increase, the nation can soar further with greater economic opportunities that reflects the nation's capability.