New vision of human capital development needed

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It is time for a new vision that is holistic and progressive in the age of industry 4.0, says Ronald Benjamin.

Experts, politicians, and various stakeholders have put forward various views about the advent of industry 4.0.

In this narrative, the discussions have focused on job losses and how this technology can increase efficiency in organisations.

But little concrete discussion, debate or planning has gone into how the government and the private sector can collaborate to enhance human capital development in the country in the face of disruptive technology.

The element of industry 4.0 such as Artificial Intelligence can make the task scalable. For example, it could take on the work of several people allowing organisations to stay lean. It can also relieve people from repetitive administrative tasks, giving them more time to focus on projects that require human intelligence and creative problem-solving.

AI can help the Malaysian workforce to evolve into more activities that add value, using human intelligence. Innovation and creativity can become the higher order skills for the workforce in the future. This requires a new vision of human capital development in the age of disruptive technology.

But can human capital develop apart from supporting variables? Do we have a holistic blueprint for human capital development? What are the rights of workers that would be affected in this age of artificial intelligence? What is the socio-economic impact? What are the critical educational modules that workers need to move up the higher value chain.

In a broader perspective of human capital development, how would our healthcare system be structured to enhance the healthcare of the workforce? Do we continue with the current practice of providing the best healthcare to those who are able to pay?

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As for industrial relations, how can progress into a new partnership that enhances human capital development become a reality when unions are seen as adversaries rather than as partners of progress by adhering to the principles of natural justice?

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has complained of a lack of values among a certain segment of the Malaysian workforce which makes it difficult for them and the country to progress.

This brings us to the importance of spiritual intelligence to the moral and performance character of the Malaysian workforce. Are we tapping into the great wisdom of Asian spiritual traditions to built our human capital from schools to universities. Or do we see religious values from a perspective of sectarian superiority?

The fact is, the development of human capital in Malaysia is not holistic. The Ministry of Human Resources would need to have holistic vision and to work in collaboration with other ministries to come up with a blueprint for human capital for the future.

An integrated system for human capital development is needed that focuses not only on knowledge and skills. It would also require a support system of an advanced egalitarian healthcare system; a sense of collaborative partnership, grounded in natural justice between employer and employee; and a universal spiritual foundation that supports the moral and performance character of workers.

It is time for a new vision for human capital development in the country – one that is holistic and progressive in the age of industry 4.0

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