January 1, 2018


The jury is still out. Will the extreme digitization of businesses and industries rolling through the fourth industrial revolution result in an alarming loss or whopping gain of jobs?  What should you do now?

       Penang STEM, Industry 4.0, Jobs, Careere


Job Maker or Job Killer?

An excerpt from a Boston Consulting Group press release in 2015, forecasts a net increase of approximately 350,000 jobs in Germany through 2025, the sum from a loss of 610,000 jobs and the creation of 960,000 jobs in the development of Industry 4.0.

The gist of an article, “Industry 4.0 to be a huge job killer,” published in January 2016, by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s leading international broadcaster is, well, Industry 4.0 will be a huge job killer! According to DW, its source, the World Economic Forum (WEF) forecasts a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies.

It becomes real and spicy if you follow Klaus Schwab, in his analogy to productivity gains of a third industrial revolution companies over a second industrial revolution companies. And, you know Industry 4.0 will deliver more gains.

According to Schwab, Silicon Valley in 2014 has higher market capitalization ($ 1.09 trillion vs. $ 36 billion), with the same level of revenues (about $ 250 billion) as Detroit in 1990 but with about 10 times fewer employees (137,000 vs. 1.2 million).

If you are planning to enter the job market in a few years, what this comparison might do for your confidence is like what a Blendtec does to a banana.

As for now, the loss-gain view depends on where you read and who is writing. I guess there is more than one way to make a projection. Many agree, the dust from the job loss-gain debate will not fully settle until the 2020s. Rather than agonizing on the projected loss, you should get upskilled for the future. This way, your chance of getting a dream job in Industry 4.0 is always going to be better.

As a sanity check, the world unemployment rate is still at its lower range despite the pace of the digital revolution in the last few years.

Upskill for the future, Embrace STEM

There is a consensus amongst experts and authorities. Those societies, cities, countries, Government and cultures that fill that lack of skills and embrace STEM learning will most likely be successful in facing Industry 4.0. STEM is acronym for an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world “– Live Science website.

The new world is a world of smart factories where extreme automation and big data combine to deliver even better efficiency and lower cost than ever before.  Interdisciplinary (STEM) skills are needed to coordinate the collaborative power of computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs report indicates a higher demand for complex problem solving skills, social skills(coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, negotiation, persuasion, orientation, training and teaching), process skills(active listening, critical thinking, monitoring of self and others), systems skills (judgement and decision making, systems analysis) and cognitive skills (cognitive flexibility, creativity, logical reasoning, problem sensitivity, mathematical reasoning, visualization), amongst others. Generally, there will be less demand for physical skills.

Up Your Value with STEM

United States will need almost 9 million STEM workers by 2018. And, STEM jobs pay better than non-STEM jobs. In the US, the average wage of all STEM occupations is $ 85,570 annually, nearly double the average for all occupations ($47,230).  The top 5 highest paying STEM jobs are Petroleum engineers ($ 147,520), Architectural and engineering managers ($138, 720), Natural Sciences managers ($136, 450), Computer and Information Systems managers ($136,280) and Physicists ($117,300).

High demand jobs are those in the computing domain. Computer networking, systems analysis and software engineering are amongst the programs with the best job prospects.

The US data is relevant because, of 10 jobs available, 7 are related to the computer industry. Many of the US multinationals in the industry have operations in Malaysia, including Penang.

According to Invest Penang Director, Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, 40%of the global shipments of microprocessor assemblers are from Penang. Overall, the manufacturing sector which will be impacted by the transformations of Industry 4.0 earliest, is the second highest contributor to the state’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), after the services sector.

Penang chooses Success

Remember the observation by experts?

“Those societies, cities, countries, Government and cultures that fill that lack of skills and embrace STEM learning will most likely be the most successful in Industry 4.0.”

In an article focused on Penang’s manufacturing sector with the Malaysian Insight, Penang Institute analyst Ong Wooi Leng said that Penang and Malaysia need to close the skills gap with relevant training programs as the manufacturing sector moved into Industry 4.0, where Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices, artificial intelligence and automation would be in high demand.

With the official launching of the Penang Math Platform (PMP) in November, the state has created a dynamic ecosystem to realize its vision of being the Centre of Excellence (COE) for STEM education.

PMP is an organization dedicated to the advancement of math studies for students and professionals. It is part of the umbrella organization, Penang STEM.

The role of Penang STEM is to drive synergy through PMP and its sister STEM centres (namely, the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC), Tech Dome Penang (TDP), the Penang Digital Library (PDL), the Penang Science Cluster (PSC), and the @CAT program )  to deliver a coherent platform for STEM education in the state.

A comprehensive listing of STEM jobs with Job Description and Qualifications required is available at O*NET Online.

O*NET Online is an application created to provide a broad database of occupational information. It is developed for the US Department of Labor.