Amazon Web Services (AWS), an company, released new research shows that when artificial intelligence (AI) is fully harnessed, Malaysia workers with AI skills and expertise could see salary hikes of over 40%, with workers in IT (53%), and research and development (49%) enjoying the highest pay bumps.

To better understand emerging AI usage trends and skilling needs in APAC workplaces, AWS commissioned Access Partnership to conduct a regional study, titled “Accelerating AI Skills: Preparing the Asia-Pacific Workforce for Jobs of the Future”.

Over 1,600 workers and 500 employers were surveyed in Malaysia.

On top of significant salary bumps, 97% of Malaysian workers expect their AI skills to have a positive impact on their careers, including increased job efficiency, higher job satisfaction, and faster career progression.

While 91% of Malaysian workers indicated an interest in developing AI skills to accelerate their careers, and this interest transcends generations.

According to the report, 92% of Gen Z, 92% of Millennials, and 90% of Gen X workers want to acquire AI skills, and 94% of baby boomers—a demographic usually contemplating retirement—say they would enrol in an AI upskilling course if it was offered.

The research also found that the productivity payoff from an AI-skilled workforce could be immense for Malaysia.

Surveyed employers expect their organisation’s productivity to increase by 57% as AI technology improves workflow and outcomes (76%), encourages learning of new skills (66%), and enhances communication (65%). Workers believe AI could raise their productivity by as much as 57%.

Malaysian organisations go all-in on AI

The speed of AI transformation happening in Malaysia is remarkable. 97% of employers envision their companies becoming AI-driven organisations by 2028.

While most employers (96%) believe their IT department will be the biggest beneficiary, they also foresee business operations (95%), research and development (94%), sales and marketing (94%), finance (93%), human resources (89%), and legal (88%) departments driving significant value from AI too.

“The AI wave is sweeping across the Asia-Pacific region including Malaysia, transforming the way businesses operate and the way we work,” said Abhineet Kaul, Director at Access Partnership.

“Our research shows that society as a whole will benefit from an increased productivity boost, which will translate into higher salaries for skilled workers,” he said.

Kaul also stated, “With a growing number of organisations expected to deepen their use of AI solutions and tools, and the continual evolution of AI-driven innovations, there is a need for employers and governments to nurture a proficient workforce capable of steering current and future AI advancements.”

Generative AI—a type of AI that can create new content and ideas quickly, including conversations, stories, images, videos, music, and more—has captured the attention of the general public in the past year, and this technology is already transforming workplaces in Malaysia.

The report mentioned 98% of surveyed employers and 96% of workers expect to use generative AI tools on the job within the next five years, with 76% of employers highlighting ‘increasing innovation and creativity’ as the top benefit, followed by supporting learning (67%), and improving outcomes (65%).

“Generative AI offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform businesses in Malaysia, and this research shows that AI skills are imperative for the future workforce,” said Emmanuel Pillai, Head of Training and Certification, ASEAN, AWS.

“From financial services to construction and retail, industries are embracing AI at a rapid pace, which is why an AI-skilled workforce is essential to unleashing a culture of innovation and driving productivity,” he said.

Pillai added, “At AWS, we are helping organisations in Malaysia, from digital stock agency 123RF, drone services company Aerodyne, the Centre for Technology Excellence Sarawak (CENTEXS), to the Asia Pacific University of Technology; Innovation (APU), upskill their employees and students to be ready for a future powered by generative AI.”

Bridging Malaysia’s AI skills gap is mission-critical

The research reveals a looming AI skills gap which must be bridged to ensure Malaysia is well-positioned to unlock the full productivity benefits of AI.

Hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for nearly nine in ten (89%) Malaysian employers, of which 81% can’t find the AI talent they need.

The research also uncovers a training awareness gap, whereby 88% of employers indicated that they don’t know how to run an AI workforce training programme.

Meanwhile, 83% of workers said they aren’t sure about relevant career paths where AI skills are useful.

The research highlights the need for greater collaboration between governments, industries, and educators to help employers in Malaysia implement AI training programmes and guide workers in matching their AI skill sets to the right roles to harness their newly acquired AI capabilities.

Accelerating digital skills training in Malaysia

AWS has trained more than 100,000 people in Malaysia on cloud skills since 2017.

But with the rapid adoption of cloud-enabled technologies like AI, more needs to be done to upskill the workforce at scale so organizations can innovate and grow in an AI-dominated future.

In November 2023, Amazon launched the ‘AI Ready’ initiative that complements AWS’s commitment to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million individuals globally by 2025.


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