PETALING JAYA: A well-trained, competitive and resourceful workforce is the basis of a nation’s future success, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix).
He said developed nations have been successful because they have made the development of human capital, especially in the technical field, their priority.
“The workforce must be allowed to explore and be given greater and better exposure to areas with the latest technical and technological developments,” he said in his pre-recorded speech to mark the National Technical Professional Day.
Mahathir said the government recently launched the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 to ensure sustainable development.
He said one of the strategies is to focus on the transformation of human capital to ensure the workforce is more productive, skilled and technologically competent.
“Developed nations such as Japan, the United States and Germany have placed emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and have made it their main education agenda to produce more technical professionals,” Mahathir said.
“We too are placing emphasis on STEM and TVET and 44% of students have made STEM their priority but the government hopes 60% of students in the future will choose STEM,” he said.
He pointed out that the country has changed from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial-based economy and the main contributors to this change has been technical professionals.
He said developed nations have emphasized on innovation and technological developments thus enabling them to register most international patents.
The skills of the local workforce have been recognised by other nations and many Malaysians with high technical skills are working abroad especially those with professional technical skills, such as those working for Petronas internationally.
Mahathir said the next step in the evolution is the age of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and technology will play an important part in the development of industry, economy and lifestyle. The country must ensure that its technical professionals acquire the latest skills through “upgrades” and “upscaling” to deal with changes brought about by IR4.0 thus reducing the reliance on foreigners.