Ministers address issues of Industrial Revolution 4.0

|    James Kon    |

LIFELONG learning and upskilling are components for the continuous development of human resources, to boost competency in the workforce and reducing concerns that may come from unemployment in facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This was highlighted by Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein on Tuesday, in his response to the question raised by Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit on the nature of the preparations in facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The uncertainty and impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to the nation and its people, particularly the workforce, was one of the key discussions at the 15th LegCo meeting.

The question raised by Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli was also related to statements from LegCo members Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam Dato Paduka Seri Haji Hasrin bin Dato Paduka Haji Sabtu, Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman and Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari, last Saturday.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny explained, “A study was carried out across ASEAN in 2018 titled ‘Assessment of ASEAN Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which assessed the preparation and development from five aspects that would determine the capacity of a country to adapt to future developments which are: innovation and technology, human capital, a regulatory framework, infrastructure and connectivity, and sustainable and inclusive development.

“According to the study, Brunei Darussalam is a country with high potential, because of the human capital sector with an increase in the number of students from higher education levels, including science and engineering.”

However, he said, “The focus needs to be given to other aspects that form the foundation of further development.

“A report from Global Innovation Index (GII) has raised Brunei Darussalam’s ranking to 67 out of 126 countries in 2018, compared to the 71st ranking in the previous year. However, Brunei’s innovation system can be further enhanced in the aspects of quantity and quality of knowledge and technology output, creative output, research and development in science and technology, and the use of technology and provision of infrastructure.

“The development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution also needs coordination among a number of priorities from the government, including the creation of job opportunities, quality of life and contributions to the economy. In addition, focus should be given on building the foundation of progress and the current wellbeing of the public, before rushing in pursuit of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We must think of the issues, as well as the suitable use of technology, for the needs of the country so that the use of national resources is strategically focussed and prudent. This is because the preparation of new technology is also dependent on high capital and based on what type of technology. It also needs high investment and expenditure. In addition, we need to absorb any benefits it will bring to the nation, while abandoning what is contributing less to the country’s development.”

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein and Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof speak during the 15th Legislative Council meeting. – PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR

On the imminent changes by the Fourth industrial Revolution on daily life and work, he said, “To maintain competitiveness, we not only must embrace changes brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but also support its implementation to increase competitiveness of the industry that will spur the country’s economic development. Therefore, the government is currently actively involved in preparing its workforce to make sure that changes will only give minimum impact to workers and the community as a whole.

“At the same time, the government is also preparing a number of platforms for locals to attend reskilling and upskilling courses and the preparation of education system, according to the needs of the current industries.

“The government will also continue to work together with industry sectors and relevant agencies to identify the requirements within the short and medium terms, including the types of work, skills and competency needed to prepare the workforce, who will be ready to support the development of industries.

“The government will work together with the relevant parties, especially those involved in human resource planning councils that are currently reviewing courses on offer under Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions; higher education institutions and any upskilling and reskilling programmes; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as preparing a skilled and professional workforce to be in line with the needs of industries. When there is a need to support the development of the industry to the level of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it will then be reflected in related initiatives with the development of the workforce.”

He also added, “As stated in my remarks delivered on March 16, one of the platforms planned by the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) is the establishment of Industry Steering Committee for the workforce to support the creation of an industry-driven workforce. The committee will comprise ministries, industries, educational institutions and regulators.”

On the issue of emotional welfare related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said, “Any changes will trigger emotional and stress to the health of workers… as I have mentioned, lifelong learning and upskilling are the components for continuous development of human resources to address the Fourth Industrial Revolution to increase competence of workforce and contribute to reducing concerns that may come from unemployment. The government will continue to work together in ensuring that suitable skillsets are identified and that educational initiatives and skilling programmes will meet the needs of the current industries.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof gave an explanation on the current status of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Brunei Darussalam.

He said, “Infrastructure is one of the basic components in heading towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The current infocommunications infrastructure inclu-des networks such as 2G, 3G, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) and FTTH.

“The development of infrastructure in line with the First Industrial Revolution was Automation, the Second Revolution was the use of the Internet, the Third Revolution involved the use of big data, and now the Fourth discussing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics systems. Alhamdulillah, the infrastructure provi-sion in this country is in line with world development where there are a number of achievements.”

He outlined the achievements, namely mobile penetration at high levels of 134 per cent, whereby 134:100 statistically have a subscription to mobile phone services; and an estimated 90 per cent of the population using smartphones or smart devices.

“Thirdly, mobile broadband penetration is at 115 per cent, while the 4G LTE network coverage in the country covers 90 per cent of the population, with the estimated growth of 4G LTE at 12 per cent annually,” he said. “Lastly, the fixed broadband penetration is at 50 per cent, from the total household and business premises.”

Citing the Measuring Information Society report issued by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), for the year 2017, he said that Brunei Darussalam is ranked 53rd in the ICT Development Index from 176 countries, rising one position compared to 54th in 2016. Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, Brunei Darussalam is ranked eighth out of 34 countries.