TRENDS: ICT careers still hot - New Straits Times (6 January 2014) | Asia Pacific University (APU)

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TRENDS: ICT careers still hot - New Straits Times (6 January 2014)

What’s the future like for the ICT workforce? Rozana Sani finds out

FANCY a career in ICT but unsure of whether there is a bright future in the field? There is and prospects in ICT are expected to continue to be rosy.

After all, the industry has been a significant contributor in efforts to develop the country into a high-income-based economy. With that, more high skilled talents are needed, especially in the newly developing and emerging areas of ICT, such as big data, cloud computing and embedded systems — in tandem with key trends in the industry.

“With more world-class ICT companies setting up businesses and building their regional facilities in Malaysia, coupled with local champions who are growing to be world-class players in their own right, the demand for ta-lents who are highly skilled and certified will continue to rise, and this is something that we need to address swiftly and holistically,” says Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah, talent head at the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) — the outfit responsible for the growth of the ICT industry in the country.

He says MSC Malaysia, the national ICT initiative driven by MDeC, continues to play a vital role in talent development for the ICT industry by forging relationships with key industry players and institutions of higher learning (IHLs) in the country to increase interest and participation in the industry.

“The ICT industry is rather unique. The pace of technology changes is very rapid and IHLs will continuously face a catching-up game with the industry demand. Hence, we will always see the need for specific interventions based on skills and competencies required by industry at certain point of time. These interventions are in the form of up-skilling training or certification training to specific needs of the industry. The MSC Malaysia MyProCert and MyUniAlliance training and international certification programmes is one of many ongoing intiatives led by MDeC which seeks to address this skill gap.”

Muhammad Imran stresses that there is a need to equip graduates across all disciplines and fields with ICT skills.

“About five million Malaysians will be entering the workforce over the next few years and they need to be prepared to face the new work environment and go beyond being just casual users of technology. To achieve that, there must be encouragement on the use of ICT as a tool with efforts to push for minimum hours of ICT in education, be it in the form of labs or practical training.”

He notes that the focus is now on how to institutionalise ICT use further in schools so it can benefit more young people, especially those from outside urban hotspots where parents may not be aware of or have no access to ICT.

“We have to improve on institutionalising such training in schools from the start to avoid increasing the digital divide,” he says.

On market trends, the MSC Malaysia MSC Malaysia Talent Supply-Demand Study 2010-2013 report cites that 90 per cent of companies hired workers with at least one to five years of experience, with only 10 per cent of companies hiring fresh graduates. The study was conducted with more than 1,000 companies and 133 faculties in IHLs, in addition to secondary research and consultation with industry experts.

Current skill gaps highlighted by the study saw software development (42 per cent) skills topping the list followed by database (23 per cent) and networking and security (18 per cent).

To that end, IHLs must adapt their curricula accordingly with more emphasis on practical industry experience, says Muhammad Imran.

Additionally, the e-leadership capabilities also need to be addressed in tandem with the maturity level of the ICT organisation as well as the progress the organisation may be going through especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“This type of organisation tends to focus on the technical capabilities that is necessary for the successful running of its day to day operations. They need to look at the other management capability development aspects if they want to grow their business. So, the emphasis on e-leadership is rather timely if we wish to see the local ICT companies grow and compete in the global arena since ICT has made the world borderless.”

Muhammad Imran also notes that in the shared services and outsourcing industry, the country is taking various measures to move beyond the business process outsourcing.

“Our strategy is to move up the value chain and concentrate on high value Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO)-type of services, in line with the country’s vision to be a sustainable, highly-competitive, high-value and high-income developed nation by 2020,” he says.

MSC Malaysia has developed suitable niches within the local ICT industry and inspired local companies to become leaders in them, he adds.

“The creative and animation industry is one where Malaysia is a newcomer, but has grown exponentially over the past few years, with many of our locally developed animated programmes showing all over the world, from China and Indonesia to UK and the Middle East,” he says.

“All in all, we observed that demand generally exceeds supply in almost all areas. This is not surprising as the trend remains true worldwide and not just limited to Malaysia. What is more interesting is that the demand for experienced ICT personnel has grown noticeably and has exceeded the demand for fresh graduates. This trend also holds for the rest of the world. For example, Europe expects to face shortages for e-leaders (organisational leaders who are apt at business as well as ICT skills) in the near to medium-term.”

And what are the job trends he sees moving forward?

“Job trends will always follow the technology trends,” he says, citing Gartner’s top 10 technology trends for 2014.

“They are in line with the general trend that we have observed in 2013, i.e. Cloud and Big Data, Mobile and Mobility, Internet of Things, and 3D printing. So there will be increasing demand for engineers, programmers and technicians to support these emerging trends and technologies.”

Gartner’s top ten technology trends for 2014:

1.    Mobile Device Diversity and Management
2.    Mobile Apps and Applications
3.    The Internet of Everything
4.    Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker
5.    Cloud/Client Arhitecture
6.    The Era of Personal Cloud
7.    Software-Defined Anything
8.    Web-Scale IT
9.    Smart Machines
10.    3D Printing


The entire article and photo above was published on New Straits Times on Monday, 6 January 2014.