Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen, Good afternoon.
This is the 10th edition of the Malaysia Economic Monitor. So, hopefully, most of you already know what’s in the report, which allows me to not talk about the report, but about what all of you really want to hear about: football and, in particular, the World Cup.
Now, let us together discover the connection between this 10th Economic Monitor and football, between football and trade. Let’s ask: What makes a competitive football team? And what makes for trade competitiveness? I would like to focus on three ingredients in football and in trade: the right, highly productive skills in the right places; the rules and regulations; and mobility and open access to skills.
First, a great football team matches its positions with the right talent. Much of this talent is honed through extensive training. The players also have to play smartly – the coach spends a lot of time watching other teams’ games and strategizing with the team.
In the trade arena, the players are your entrepreneurs, new and old, small and large. To become more competitive, your players need to make and export more knowledge-based goods and services.
Exports of services in Malaysia have a huge potential, especially those modern services like health, education, professional services, oil and gas services. In manufacturing, there is room for doing more of the higher-value added tasks, like design, research and development. For example, Malaysia assembles integrated circuits, the chips of which go into computers and mobile phones. It could do more of the design of the chips, or fabricate the high-value silicon wafers that go into it.
To realize the potential of your trade team, your local players will require the right skills. This means: training is needed, building skills, and addressing the apparent mismatch between the skills produced by the education system and those demanded in the labor markets.
Basic education is important – that was the theme of our previous economic monitor. But it’s also important to find more ways to bring Malaysian firms and universities together to enhance the quality and content of higher education. According to a survey that was done for this Economic Monitor, in partnership with TalentCorp, only half of the companies offer structured internship programs. These programs can help expose university students to a variety of career paths and help them develop the requisite “soft skills”.