Economic expert warned that digitalisation and new technologies must be introduced in companies carefully, in a way that the digital transformation will not further worsen an already tough job market.
According to Malaysian Institute of Economic Research senior fellow research Dr Shankaran Nambiar, encouraging digitalisation among firms was important but more attention must be given to helping people keep their jobs. He said while initiatives to introduce digitalisation and training were valuable, the focus should be on employment, The Star reports.
“It should be done carefully as it could be disruptive and take away jobs.
“We have to adopt a phased approach. Money should go into people’s pockets and to SMEs, and the least advantaged sections of society, ” he said at “The Social, Health and Economic Impact of Covid-19 in Malaysia” webinar organised by the National Population and Family Development Board on Monday (Jul 27).
Organisations such as the Malaysian Employers Federation and JobStreet Malaysia have estimated that roughly two million Malaysians could lose their jobs due to Covid-19. The unemployment rate in Malaysia rose to 5.3 percent in May, a sharp increase from Malaysia’s usual unemployment rate of about 3 percent.
Shankaran said Malaysia must stimulate domestic consumption to spur the local economy as the world was undergoing a period of deglobalisation.
“The emphasis right now should be buying local. People should be nudged to do so because it is the local companies that need our support.
“The current export environment will be rather muted and dull in the months to come. If you want to see a vibrant domestic environment, it must come from domestic industries, ” he said.
Further, Shankaran added that public confidence in spending during the current economic climate must be boosted without causing consumers to be complacent of the risks that Covid-19 still presents.