Digital evolution and the need for upskilling

The news of the merger between Celcom (Axiata) and DiGi (Telenor) has definitely captured the attention of Malaysians from all walks of life because of the size and popularity of both these companies. However, there have been a lot of chatter that seem to paint the merger in bad light,
especially in the area of job security.

Telecommunications, tech-based and manufacturing industries are undergoing rapid changes because of the emergence of high-speed broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Jobs that were considered common in the past are under threat because it is increasingly being handled by AI, software and apps. Not necessarily the entire business (operation), but most
certainly, more and more tasks are being automated.

That is why the assurance of both parties in the merger in wanting to upskill and re-train existing employees are welcomed. Nowadays, there are a lot of graduates who are unemployed because employers feel they lack
the skills and knowledge in jobs such as cloud computing, machine learning, data science, augmented reality, virtual reality, app programming, big data, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, IoT and automation. Quite the mouthful, though these are terms that becoming increasingly commonplace.

However, in industries mentioned earlier, they are already looking for people to take on these jobs and the merged company – MergedCo’s “People Plan” which will look into retraining and reskilling of employees to fill in various new areas of work spanning ‘home broadband, enterprise solutions and Regional Innovation Centre’ is also a reflection of Telenor’s global
operation and its role as a major player in the international telco industry.

This means career growth and opportunities. A recent study by Randstad “Market Outlook 2019” said digitally-adept candidates who have niche technical skills will be highly sought after by employers who are looking to advance their technological capabilities. As companies digitise their internal processes and services, the in-demand skills that employers
are looking for will differ greatly from what the workforce is equipped with currently, the study added.

I believe this merger will also convince employers of other companies that they too need to upskill and hire people with new skillsets – which invariably, are much better paying than rankand-file positions. And it is a natural progression to the nation’s growth as it becomes more
industrialised. Meanwhile, Voluntary Separation Schemes (VSS) and Mutual Separation Schemes (MSS) means staff can choose to accept or reject the company’s offer but they cannot be forced to accept it.

Those willing to stay can be part of a Multinational Company and will be rewarded by learning skills that can be used worldwide and increase their personal value and worth. And yet for others, an MSS or VSS is an opportunity to pursue a different career path or realise an ambition or dream that they otherwise may have thought as impossible. I personally know of former colleagues for whom the latter was true.

There will always be some that find the latest trends and technology daunting and may struggle to adapt. It is most likely this group of people who are most worried of losing their jobs because the lack of other skills and (potentially) their advanced age would mean it would be harder for
them to get a new job as many of these skills are becoming common prerequisites.

But just as companies must adapt with the times, so must employers and employees as well. So perhaps grasping the opportunity to reskill within an organisation that has vested interest in growing its talent base will be a next step worth considering. Let’s face it – the digital evolution is taking shape worldwide and it is here to stay. If anything, this merger is a case in point as to why it is extremely important for Malaysian companies to be
digitally ready or risk being left behind.

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