Young Malaysians enhance employability and skills with free online digital learning resources

 |   Microsoft Malaysia

Images of Malaysian youths studying

Idris, an ambitious young freelancer, had immersed himself in ad hoc research work to support himself during a gap year when the pandemic struck. Like millions of Malaysians, he suddenly found contracts growing scarce as the market became more competitive and the economy more volatile. Undaunted, Idris began looking for ways to upskill himself so that he could win more contracts. Lightning struck when he discovered a programme geared towards equipping Malaysian youths with future-ready skills and tools to thrive in the gig economy.

“I started with the design thinking course, which I found whilst still doing freelance jobs. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I felt confident enough to take the specialist exam. The course is really convenient and empowers me with the knowledge I need to compete in today’s demanding job market. I’m not stopping here— I’m pushing myself to try the data analytics course next!”

Millions of people around the country and the world have faced circumstances similar to Idris’ as social distancing and business-continuity measures in the COVID-19 pandemic impacting business prospects and job markets. Microsoft committed to remedying this urgent situation on June 30, launching an expansive initiative to offer free digital learning resources from LinkedIn, Microsoft and GitHub, with the goal of equipping 25 million people with digital skills, providing them with the opportunity to seize new or improved job opportunities in the growing digital economy.

As an extension to Microsoft’s global commitment, Microsoft Malaysia unveiled the “Digital Skills and Gig Economy Employability Programme” in collaboration with Biji-biji Initiative in October 2020. The collaboration with Biji-Biji came at a time when the proliferation of digital platforms and growing preference for flexible work hours coincided with the rise of the gig economy, emerging as a major source of employment for Malaysians. According to World Bank , 25.1% of Malaysians were self-employed in 2020, and this number is expected to increase as more Malaysians like Idris favour freelance, project-based hires.

Chua Yu Jie, who also completed the programme, is currently a Social Media Manager at an e-commerce business. “As a 19-year-old fresh out of school, facing the job market for the first time can be pretty intimidating. Especially during a pandemic! Luckily, I stumbled across Microsoft’s Global Skills Initiative which enabled me to team up with people with experience in the creative industry. The human aspect of the courses was what really drew me in— my mentors taught me how to gain and improve my skills which, coupled with their compassion for my career journey, empowered me to enter a tough job market. My advice for budding professionals out there would be: never settle, always try to improve yourself, there are tons of digital resources out there that you can leverage to really improve yourself and once you do that, you can definitely achieve greater heights!”

The learning resources not only empower Malaysian youths like Idris and Yu Jie to achieve more in the gig economy or face today’s challenging job market, but also to pursue passions outside their normal fields. Zulykha Zainal, who holds a degree in Cognitive Science, said: “I’m currently a freelance Social Media Manager. You probably don’t expect that considering my degree, but my passion in graphic design keeps me financially afloat and also provides an outlet for stress.”

Zulykha Zainal
Zulykha Zainal

Technology touches every worker in our new hybrid digital reality— every job is in some way a digital job. To stay relevant for 2021’s dynamic gig economy, Malaysia’s youths must diversify their portfolios by honing the basics of digital fluency and empower themselves to achieve more.

Idris added, “In this day and age, learning and being willing to learn things that are outside of your degree, job scope or skillset will definitely take you very far. I think age or fear of uncertainties should not hinder you from learning, especially digital skills. In life, learning never stops!”

Idris Azim

To further accelerate Malaysia’s economic recovery driven by a digital-first future and workforce, Microsoft Malaysia has been partnering with the government and private sectors to empower Malaysians to thrive in the digital age and be the workforce of the future, thus realising the nation’s aspiration to become a regional leader in the digital economy.

This initiative was part of Microsoft’s Global Skills Initiative with LinkedIn and GitHub, which reached 10 million engaged learners globally, including 36,000 Malaysians since its announcement. Eight months in, Microsoft, LinkedIn and GitHub’s skilling programme reached more than 1.5 million people across 21markets in Asia Pacific, including 36,000 in Malaysia.

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