Honing and Acquiring Talent for Digital Transformation

Article prepared by:

Mr Rony Ambrose Gobilee
Chief Programmes Officer
Human Resource Development Corporation (HRD Corp)

Honing and Acquiring Talent for Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is without a doubt, one of the most positive changes to have emerged from the pandemic. It has allowed companies to become more agile, efficient and competitive. Many seemed to believe that technology is the primary driver of digital transformation. On the contrary however, it is actually spurred by human capital. People and technology empower one another. Therefore, securing the right talents for your company’s digital transformation strategy should be a priority.

Rapid technological advancement brings convenience to our work lives. However, it also makes the future far less predictable. A survey by Forrester in 2020 found that only 46% of companies in Malaysia are on a digital transformation journey1. This is because, it appears that the majority of local companies are currently not set up for taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by digitalisation and mastering the challenges that come with it.

Aside from having to plan on which technology solutions to invest in, digitalisation requires employers to decide on which new positions to fill and which jobs or even departments to eliminate if necessary. To mitigate this, companies must focus on reskilling and upskilling existing employees so that they are better equipped to embrace digitalisation at the work place without their skillset, knowledge or roles becoming obsolete as a result of digitalisation. To that end, employees must be encouraged to be agile, dynamic and open to taking on new challenges to enhance their value in a digital-first workplace.  

Skills are categorised into hard and soft. Hard skills refer to technical skills acquired through education, training or certifications. Soft skills are interpersonal attributes, namely communications, attitude, leadership and more. Employees who possess high levels of proficiency in both sets of skills are rare and in high demand, especially by companies undertaking the gargantuan challenge of digital transformation.

Winning over talents for your company’s digital transformation strategy is no simple task. The movement of top tech talents in the labour market is extremely fluid. Therefore, it is important for you to clearly establish how your company will transform digitally and determine the technology and talents required to achieve that transformation. Identify value propositions that resonate with talents (e.g., career progression, freedom to innovate, skills development). Most importantly, the compensation package must commensurate with the experience and value that the employee offers.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the digital economy contributed a staggering 19.1% (RM289 billion) to  Malaysia’s GDP in 2019 and this grew to 20% in 2020.

This significant contribution could be attributed to the fact that in 2019, 1.14 million Malaysian talents were employed in the digital sector. Therefore, equipping Malaysia’s workforce with digital skills is paramount for  our nation’s growth and success. Possessing digital skills is no longer optional, those who do not have them will get left behind.

HRD Corporation’s Role in Driving Malaysia’s Digital Transformation Agenda

HRD Corp has been at the forefront of Malaysia’s human capital development for the past 28 years. Our mission is to improve lives through the promotion of lifelong learning and the acquisition of future work skills.

From our internal database, we have observed a significant shift in training trends. Unlike before, employees from industries across the spectrum are now enrolling in training courses related to digital skills, from basic Microsoft Excel, to complex Machine Learning. A total of 231,054 training places related to digital skills were successfully carried out by employers from 2018 to 2020. More than RM150 million was invested in digital skills training from 2018 to 2020.

HRD Corp has implemented a variety of initiatives to provide financial assistance to eligible companies that are undergoing digital transformation. These include:

  1. 1. Information Technology (IT):
    Provide financial assistance to employers for the purchase of desktop or laptop computers, webcam and internet connection for their inhouse computer lab, to train employees in the field of Information Technology.
  2. 2. Computer Based Training (CBT):
    Enable employers to purchase/develop training software to retrain and upgrade the knowledge and skills of their workforce.

  3. 3. RiSE4WRD for Industry4WRD:
    Assist Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) in the manufacturing and related sectors that have participated in the Readiness Assessment (RA) under the Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI), to start or accelerate their digital transformation journeys.
    Assist employers that are planning on training their workers in digitalisation-related courses that could help employers improve business productivity and sustainability.

To learn more, please visit https://hrdcorp.gov.my/programmes/

Additionally, HRD Corp has also developed the Industrial Skills Framework (IndSF) for Digital Technology with key industry players as a common reference for skills required by individuals and employers to thrive in the digital economy. Information such as career pathways, recommended training programmes and certification are also included in the IndSF. Software Development, Data Science, Cybersecurity, are among the key emerging focus areas highlighted in the document.

Technology is evolving at an exponential rate and it is integral to how we live and work.  Information and data have become core business assets in this digital age. Insights garnered through the digital transformation process which are then acted upon by competent employees can accelerate a company’s progress. From big data, to blockchain, to artificial intelligence, the potential of emerging technologies is immense. Assembling the right pool of talents who are able to fully leverage modern digital technology, may be the single most important step that a company contemplating digital transformation can take2. A clear focus on talent engagement will help companies better retain their talents, while improving business profitability and sustainability.


  1. 1. Granzen, A. (2021) “Spotlight On Southeast Asia: The State Of Digital Transformation In Malaysia”
  2. 2. Davenport, T., Redman, T. (2020) “Digital Transformation Comes Down to Talent in 4 Key Areas”



Wisma HRD Corp, Jalan Beringin
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 1800-88-4800
Fax: 03-2096 4999
E-mail: support@hrdcorp.gov.my
Website: https://hrdcorp.gov.my/