Since the 1970s, Bayan Lepas has been crowned as ‘Silicon Valley of the East’ where it commands about 5% of global semiconductor exports.
However, in recent years, a new contender across the causeway has emerged – Batu Kawan Industrial Park (BKIP).
Upon receiving its first investment in 2011, BKIP has been enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity among local and international manufacturers. Within 10 years, nearly 40 companies ranging from electrical and electronics (E&E), machinery and equipment, as well as medical technology players have decided to set up shop in Batu Kawan, namely Boon Siew Honda, Micron, Dexcom, Lam Research Corp and more.
While this is good news for the nation’s job market, can the region supply enough of the right talents?
This is where Peninsula Higher Education (PHE) completes the equation, by setting up a skills training centre that not only provides Industry 4.0 (IR 4.0) education and upskilling, but also acts as a hub for job matching and networking in BKIP.
Peninsula IR 4.0 Talent Growth Hub
Headquartered in the BKIP’s iconic The Ship Campus, Peninsula Higher Education (PHE) has committed to investing RM10mil over the next five years to set up skills training centres across Malaysia.
The founding branch located in Penang will be called the Peninsula IR 4.0 Talent Growth Hub.
For the region to keep up with the industry’s rapidly growing appetite for manpower, PHE recently inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with renowned German brand Bosch Rexroth, in order to accelerate its pace of building a Bosch-certified teaching team.
In this collaboration, Bosch Rexroth will provide the necessary building blocks of this centre, including training equipment, technical support, as well as its Modular Mechatronic Systetm (mMS4.0) syllabus.
Meanwhile, Skills and Management Development Centre (KISMEC), a Bosch Rexroth-certified partner, will also be collaborating with PHE as they have a locally adapted syllabus.
At the start, this centre aims to offer courses in mechatronics involving the use of technologies such as manufacturing execution systems, hydraulics, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and gateways, radio frequency identification devices (RFID) and automated guided vehicles, better known as AGV.
The list of offerings will continue to expand based on demand and contributions from other industry leaders.
Building a sustainable talent pipeline
PHE group president Prof Dr Ian Pashby said this centre marks the beginning of creating an ecosystem that nurtures a sustainable talent pipeline for the industry.
“This centre is co-created with the industry and for the industry to set our graduates up for success and to help them fetch better wages.
“At the same time, they will benefit from up-to-date courses, equipment and quality trainers,” he said.
One of the key courses that many companies are eyeing is Bosch Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering (OCE).
With OCE, students learn to freely programme for all sorts of machines with languages as simple as Microsoft Excel. This means that graduates enjoy a high degree of flexibility in programming and device platform integration, helping them to be more competitive and future-proof.
“Bosch Rexroth has always been committed to imparting a real-world IR 4.0 experience to the next generation through educational partnerships like this,” said Bosch Rexroth Asean and Oceania president and chief executive officer (CEO) Michel Gunawan.
Race to Embrace IR 4.0
Over the years, the E&E sector in Malaysia has evolved from being labour-intensive and low-value-added to capital intensive, knowledge-based and high technology.
With IR 4.0 solutions such as industrial IoT, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems, companies can now collect data in real-time to improve productivity and manage resources.
Eager to move up the value chain, many multinational corporations are hungry for talents with IR 4.0 skillsets to operate what is commonly known as “Factory of the Future”.
PKT Logistics Group CEO and managing director Datuk Seri Dr Michael Tio, who is also PHE’s director, said that the Government has been pushing to strengthen the nation’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and even upping its allocation in Budget 2022.
“Putrajaya also expanded the scope for double tax deduction for companies who are sponsoring scholarships in all fields of study.
“So there are plenty of opportunities for high school leavers and existing TVET talents to be a part of this change,” he shared.