Companies clueless on Industrial Revolution 4.0, forum told

Panellists at the forum ‘Driving Skills Development for a Future-Ready Workforce in Malaysia” in George Town, today.

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia’s journey to Industrial Revolution 4.0 or IR 4.0 is being hampered by a lack of exposure as well as information on the initiative to transform the manufacturing sector through the use of cutting-edge technology, an industrial training expert told a forum today.

Muhamed Ali Hajah Mydin, who heads the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC), said many companies have yet to tap into the RM2 billion allocated by the government towards achieving IR 4.0.

“There is no structured information, for example, if a company needs a soft loan to upgrade to IR 4.0. How do they go about? There is no outlet for them to query about it.

“Now we are going for the next budget, we have to expedite this to move our country forward in the tech race,” Ali told the forum “Driving skills development for a future-ready workforce in Malaysia” at PSDC today.

Ali said approximately 15% and 20% of Malaysian companies had made the move to IR 4.0 because they were forced to do so.

“They are now dealing with Tier 1 Multimedia Super Corridor companies. They are forced to adapt as they have no choice. As for the rest, they remain confused and unguided,” he said.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the National Policy on Industry 4.0 or Industry4WRD last year, to help companies migrate to IR 4.0 in a systematic and comprehensive manner.

Meanwhile, forum participant Foong Lai Lyn said the current confusion was likely due to the number of agencies taking the lead on IR 4.0.

She called for a single agency handling all matters related to IR 4.0 to ensure a smooth migration.

“Currently, it is a maze and having such an agency handholding companies would do a lot of good in our progress,” she added.

Industry 4.0 Malaysia Association president Raja Teagarajan said the government had set a key performance index to help at least 500 companies in their migration to IR 4.0, but only hit 90 companies to date.

“We have about 500,000 companies which are mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We must find ways to expand the net,” he said.

Singapore businessman James Boey said the problem was not unique to Malaysia.

He said most SMEs and companies were at the beginner’s stage of the IR 4.0 and have yet to move to the next phase.

“Many companies have started, but continue to be stuck in the pilot track. And sometimes, the cost factor is also holding back people from embarking on an IR 4.0 migration,” he said.