Malaysia announces 3 new Premier Digital Tech Institutions
CEO of MDEC Surina Shukri and Deputy Director General for the Ministry of Education Dr Salleh Jaafar at the event yesterday. Source: Edelman

The Malaysian government has recognised three additional universities – HELP University, International Islamic University Malaysia and Tunku Abdul Rahman University –  as Premier Digital Tech Institutions, seeking to meet the demands of the digital economy.

This expands the current lineup to a total of 11 universities and five polytechnics with such status. The Institutions of higher learning must fulfill a set of requirements, such as their position on global rankings, industry-relevant teaching and learning methodologies, effective career placement services,  teaching staff with industry experience and industry involvement throughout the undergraduate journey.

“The Premier Digital Tech Institutions initiative will ensure Malaysians will be ready for the fields of Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Digital Marketing,” said Dr Mohd Salleh bin Jaafar, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education at the launch at Cyberjaya yesterday.

“Talent is key for Malaysia to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the world moves rapidly from IR4.0 to now even discussing IR 5.0, it is critical that we prepare skilled local talents for future jobs.”

Launched in 2017, the Premier Digital Technology Institutions initiative aimed to meet the huge demand for industry-ready computer science graduates. The other local universities earlier recognised with the Premier Digital Tech University status are University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Taylor’s University, Sunway University, Multimedia University (MMU), Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), and Asia Pacific University (APU).

The Premier Digital Tech Polytechnics include PoliteknikUngku Omar in Perak, Politeknik Balik Pulau in Penang, PoliteknikMersing in Johor, PoliteknikSultan Idris Shah in Selangor, and PoliteknikSultan Mizan Zainal Abidin in Terengganu.

Eight industry partners were acknowledged at yesterday’s event for offering free cloud credits, training modules, certification programmes, training, mentoring and employment tools to the institutions. The corporations are Microsoft, SAS, Amazon Web Services, JobStreet, Intel, Cisco, Oracle and Runcloud.

According to Surina Shukri, CEO of the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (a government agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia tasked to lead the country’s digital economy forward), the initiative helped grow the number of enrolled students from 15,500 to 22,000 and produced 6,000 tech graduates last year.

She emphasised roles these institutions play in enhancing graduates’ employability. She noted that tech CEOs in a roundtable earlier this year highlighted the need for more hybrid skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communications and the right attitude eg. resilience, growth mindset, etc.

“In 2018, Premier Digital Tech Institutions’ graduates recorded a 95 percent employability rate, earning a salary 1.5 times higher than the national average. It is clear that we are able to better prepare our talents by bringing together the best of educational institutions and industry players. Today’s announcement of the expanded Premier Digital Tech Institutions lineup together with strong support from leading players in the industry shows that Malaysia is on the right path to futureproof its talents, creating leaders and innovators that will drive global digital economies of the future.”

Referring to LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs in Malaysia Report 2019, Dr Salleh also noted that four out of five emerging jobs in high demand in the country are digital in nature. LinkedIn data also suggests digital jobs in non-digital tech sectors are growing at “five times that of digital tech sectors in Asia Pacific”.

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