Reflecting the global surge of upskilling people for the increasingly digital normal, Asian countries are exploring new avenues of equipping their citizens with essential skills. Singapore, for example, is using computer games to train its naval officers while Thailand is tapping YouTube to help prepare its citizens.

Malaysia remains steadfast on its vision of becoming a regional digital leader as evidenced by the launch of its MyDIGITAL, a 10-year bid to revitalise its digital economy vision. As part of a nationwide implementation campaign, two digital companies – Cloud Connect and TM ONE, the enterprise and public sector business arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) – have collaborated to establish the Cloud Connect Academy. It aims to upskill government officials, and is part of a wide-scale effort to digitalise Malaysia’s public sector.

The academy will inculcate individuals with the necessary skills to work with digital technologies associated with Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Hanafiah Hassan, Managing Director of Cloud Connect shared further insights into the academy’s role in supporting Malaysia’s overarching digital transformation.

Pivoting to ‘future-ready roles’

We have seen a significant shift in public sector careers, Hanafiah said. System analysts and website developers are in the process of being replaced by ‘future jobs’ – such as ‘cloud consultants’ and ‘cloud engineers’, he said.

“Cloud Connect Academy aims to upskill civil servants to meet new demands on the job. It will equip them with knowledge on AI, big data, IoT and cloud computing,” he noted.

According to Hanafiah, public sector staff will learn how to create apps through the academy, which will enable the government to expand its digital services. One example is MySejahtera, Malaysia’s all-in-one app for managing its national Coid-19 vaccination programme as well as to help with contact tracing, connect citizens with testing and support facilities, and mapping Covid-19 hotspots.

Public sector workers will be introduced to DevOps, a systematic approach that helps development and operations teams to build and roll out tech services more rapidly and efficiently, he explained.

In addition, the academy’s offerings include new methods of website creation for public sector IT services, Hanafiah said. “Previously, it took three months to build a site; however, the introduction of these new systems will reduce the development time to a matter of just 15 minutes – without requiring any change to the coding language.”

He revealed that the programme was initially aimed solely at IT staff within the public sector agencies but later was extended to include all public servants. “This is in line with Malaysia’s digital transformation strategy, which plans to have 100 per cent of civil servants become digitally literate, and 80 per cent of the government will use Cloud storage.”

Cloud’s pivotal role

When the Malaysian government’s Economic Planning Unit (EPU) announced the MyDIGITAL initiative in February 2021, one of its key goals was to reskill the current workforce. This would ensure Malaysians ‘stay relevant’ in a world rapidly moving into the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Cloud technologies and systems form a fundamental part of the MyDIGITAL initiative, wrote the IDC. TM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have been appointed to build and manage Cloud services in Malaysia. These initiatives will help to reduce operating costs and enhance analytical efficiency, IDC highlighted.

Hanafiah confirms that: “TM has helped to support the academy’s Cloud computing curriculum. Its lead role as a Cloud service provider to the government is testament to TM’s world-class level of skills and extensive experience.”

Extending the talent base

Looking ahead, Hanafiah commented: “Cloud Connect Academy can play a significant role as an upskilling platform, not only for the public sector but also for graduates. The academy’s vision extends to support the new generation that is now entering the workforce to acquire the essential future-ready skill sets to greatly enhance their employability level.”

“Students will be taught ‘modern application’, ‘modern infrastructure’ and ‘modern processes,” he further explained. “Modern applications require moving away from older programming systems like Java and pivoting to programming frameworks that are more convenient and useable by a greater range of staff.”

“Modern infrastructure involves transforming legacy hardware into a Cloud environment,” he added. “The curriculum for graduates encourages the incorporation of new Cloud-native technologies into existing infrastructures, as part of an essential and timely shift from legacy systems.”

“Additionally, a modern process which involves Agile practices that advocate adaptive planning, cross-functional teams, evolutionary development, early delivery and continual improvement, encourages flexible responses to change,” concluded Hanafiah.

The upskilling of public sector staff is vital as key component of Malaysia’s vision to accelerate the implementation of digital technologies into its public sector. In addition, this talent push will help smooth the transition from old job roles into the future ready roles.