Resetting Digital Transformation Strategies: Digital Age Talent Management

By Choh Yau Meng, Vice President Of Human Resources, Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Many traditional talent management processes were not designed for today’s increasingly digital landscape. Working in the Human Resources Department, I genuinely feel that more professionals must be equipped to drive and navigate change in this age of digital evolution and rapid changes of technology. 

It is a given at this point of time that any modern company, in any industry, needs to adopt basic digital practices in order to be competitive and survive. In this volatile post pandemic era, workers are being hired, grouped and regrouped according to the knowledge, experience and capabilities they bring to specific projects that deliver the most value to an organisation’s stakeholders. However, many are ill-prepared.

Every organisation must look into assisting to upskill, reskill and cross-skill their talents so as to future-proof their workforce and to assist them in navigating the winds of change in this era of digitalisation.

That’s why new approaches are needed for the cultivation of digital talents to drive positive changes for the economy.

We at Huawei Malaysia believe in walking the talk. We spend a lot of money developing tailored courses on our ilearning platforms to ensure our employees are constantly provided with opportunities to upskill, reskill and cross-skill. Our employees are also required to complete certain hours of classes and pass certain mandatory courses during the course of their employment.

Scaling up investments in digital skills amid shortage

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven many countries to understand the critical nature of connectivity, digital infrastructure and a digitally educated population as well as the rising importance of promoting digital engagement and developing ICT skills. The march of automation will continue across industries and jobs. Without a doubt, acquiring digital skills is a beacon of certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.

However, as technology reshapes job markets, there will also be new jobs created, in addition to job displacements.

There will be an urgent need for organisations to reskill, upskill and cross skill existing workforces and to hire new digital talents. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the acceleration of digitalisation and there is strong demand for emerging digital job roles that require critical digital skills and knowledge. Digital transformation will see a boost when the talent pool to fill these highly skilled existing and new jobs are filled. Digital talents must also be aware of new digital job creations and the areas that are most in demand before choosing their areas of study.

With the advent of advanced technologies and solutions such as automation, robotics, Cloud computing, 5G, and machine learning, comes the urgency for specific skillsets to be applied on a daily basis. Organisations are left with no choice but to invest more in upskilling their workforces to stay relevant and resilient. 

This is evident by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs 2020 report published in October last year, which listed Cloud computing, Big Data, and e-commerce as the top technologies most likely to be adopted by companies. Digital investments should therefore look at focusing on cultivating talents in these areas.

Collaborations to accelerate the Nation’s Digital Economy 

Although Malaysia has a strong pool of technical talent, there is still a shortage of digital talent in the country. With talent development a key priority for the company, Huawei has rolled out several initiatives as well as upcoming ones with our partners which are all geared towards training and nurturing digital skills among Malaysians. 

Under the Huawei Asean Academy, we are on track to train 10,000 digital talents this year and we plan to train 10,000 a year for five years to build a vibrant digital talent ecosystem in the country.

Recently, we partnered with the Women Leadership Foundation with the aim to further nurture and facilitate talented female leaders in the country’s workforce through cross sharing of expertise via workshops, seminars and trainings, as well as collaborating with experts in technical fields to provide relevant knowledge for women on latest technologies and innovations in the digital sector. By developing a mixture of leadership and digital skills, we hope this will inspire and motivate more involvement of women business leaders in this digital era.

We recognise the fact that women are also part of our vast digital talents and are potential future leaders who can help drive transformation and positive change across numerous industries.

Huawei Malaysia also tied up with the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) to train 5,000 digital talents for the manufacturing industry yearly for 5 years, ensuring the sustainability of a quality digital talent pool.

We at Huawei will continue to be the agent of change, one initiative at a time, and not let a global pandemic deter us from forging a better tomorrow for our nation. As proof, more than 82 per cent of our current workforce in Malaysia are locals. 

Huawei is in a critical period of strategic development, so we must have the required talents as we charge ahead. This is also important for this country’s ICT talent development, especially considering the acceleration of the nation’s digital transformation. These talents will play a crucial part in the aspirations of our nation. 

Investing in Digital Talent Development

As the digital world continues to develop, the areas where graduates compete to secure a job become diverse and more challenging. Naturally in the context of a future workforce, ICT skills will be extremely in demand. These will center on 5G, data management, analytics, machine learning, robotics, AI, blockchain, cloud and augmented reality. 

Huawei Malaysia wants to be a part of cultivating digital talents for Malaysia. We have multiple initiatives such as Seeds for the Future, Huawei Asean Academy, Huawei ICT Academy and the Huawei ICT Competition aimed at developing skilled local ICT talent who are able to predict the future of work, which is especially important in the current context of the pandemic, and who are able to meet the needs of today’s and future industries. Our focus is to ensure out future talent are equipped and ready with emerging digital skills. In addition to these, we also have our Huawei Spark programme which aims to build a sustainable startup ecosystem in the country. 

Meeting the need for digital talent cannot be done alone. There must be multiple spiral collaborations between stakeholders for us to achieve this. Public-private partnerships between the Government, Industry and Academia are crucial to ensure wide-scale digital upskilling and in identifying the digital talent hiring landscape trends in the country to ensure the skills employers demand are in sync with what is produced. 

When talent development in both the public and private sectors are managed successfully, a virtuous cycle of high performance, sparking innovation and creating impact can be created.

Human Resource practitioners must reposition themselves as influential agents of change. We have to look at means of creating new and more comprehensive pipelines to grow, retain, enable and attract digital talents. 

We have to invest in approaches to upskill, reskill and cross-skill workforces of the future and work on new ideas such as talent platforms to build a sustainable network of top talents.

The Government, businesses and stakeholders must cooperate in aligning learning opportunities initiatives, workforce development programmes and public policies to improve the digital talent pool and ensure we are not left behind.

Other steps that could be considered are drawing up massive online national programmes to drive digital education, which are supplemented with initiatives such as internship programmes and developing digital programmes in partnership with the private sector. 

This year marks our 20th Anniversary in Malaysia. For any foreign company in Malaysia, having a two-decade footprint here is an achievement in itself. Our focus has always been the people. Getting the people right and getting the right people is the most vital strategy in any change management, especially a change involving a major shift of work culture and a technological revolution called digital transformation.

From helping to bridge loved ones across geographical boundaries, to empowering businesses to thrive by adopting digital solutions, Huawei is honoured and proud to have provided and trained top notch digital talents that have supported Malaysia’s digital growth over the past 20 years, and we look forward to continue doing that for many years to come. 

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