skills shortage

Organizations in Southeast Asia are dealing with the shortage by reskilling and upskilling the current workforce to deal with the shortage. (Source – Shutterstock)

Here’s how Red Hat is helping Malaysia deal with skills shortage

The skills shortage in Southeast Asia continues to be a hurdle for organizations, especially when it comes to expanding the business or investing in more technologies. While technology has enabled some processes to be automated, there is still a need for a skilled workforce in managing them.

According to an IDC report, Enterprise Automation to Mitigate the Digital Skills Shortage, a significant percentage (60%-80%) of organizations in Asia Pacific find it difficult to fill up vacancies for various IT positions, such as security, developers, and data professionals. This puts organizations at risk of employees’ workloads increasing, potential security risks, and reduced customer satisfaction.

When it comes to these roles, organizations in Southeast Asia are dealing with the shortage by reskilling and upskilling the current workforce to deal with the shortage. However, reskilling and upskilling employees is also a challenge, especially if the organization does not have a plan for the technologies that they invest in. This leads to a skills mismatch, which is also a common problem in most countries in the region.

In Malaysia, skills shortage remains a big challenge. Despite initiatives by the government and organizations, the country is still struggling to fill up the vacancies, especially for tech roles. As such, tech companies have taken the initiative to work with organizations to reskill and upskill employees to fill the skills shortage void.

One tech company that is working to deal with skills shortage in the country is Red Hat. Tech Wire Asia speaks to Tammy Tan, Country Manager at Red Hat Malaysia to find out more about the initiative taken by the company.

TWA: How is Malaysia coping with the skills shortage as compared to other countries in the region?

Tammy Tan, Country Manager, Red Hat Malaysia.

Malaysia has set ambitious goals to establish itself as a digital hub in the ASEAN region, following recent announcements on major investments in the country from key tech players.

As technology advances and businesses work towards applying more automation in day-to-day tasks, employers will need to adapt and ensure their hiring process, and upskilling and reskilling efforts include building digital talent to thrive in a competitive landscape.

Fortunately, Malaysia is not far behind other countries in APAC in digital competitiveness. According to the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Rankings 2021, Malaysia is ranked 8th out of 14 APAC countries surveyed. However, as the country’s digital acceleration may not account for enough talent, more needs to be done on this front to drive digital competitiveness.

Recognizing this need, Red Hat offers various upskilling and reskilling programs such as Red Hat Training and Certification and Red Hat Academy to ensure our teams are honing the right skills in an increasingly digital world.

Open-source communities can have a multiplier effect because it encourages both collaboration and knowledge-sharing to solve real-world problems, but awareness of open-source methodologies and skills could still be greater. Ultimately, we aim to foster a culture of learning and growth, provide opportunities for individuals to acquire in-demand digital skills, and in turn, contribute to the country’s digital transformation.

TWA: What can be done on retaining and training future and current talents in Malaysia?

To achieve this, a joint effort will be required between the public and private sectors to digitalize the workforce in Malaysia. It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes investment in education and skills development, as well as employee engagement. Over the years, we’ve seen national efforts in building digital talent through various initiatives, such as the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox and the Digital Skills Training Directory, to help Malaysians develop the skills needed to prepare for the digital economy.

To support the country’s digitalization goals in building a digital workforce, Red Hat has provided the necessary skills training and certification programs to professionals in Malaysia. This includes collaborations with local universities like UniKL to embed Red Hat Linux and OpenShift into their syllabus and equip them with more open-source skills that will help deepen their participation in the growing digital economy.

One use case would be our work with AmBank, who participated in a five-week program on Red Hat Innovation Labs to learn how to successfully adopt open-source practices and Red Hat technologies. Following the program, the bank created standard operating procedures for managing upcoming agile application projects and used Red Hat OpenShift to build a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline for its applications. Red Hat also enabled AmBank to embrace a culture of collaboration across teams, which helped to reduce overall product defects. This ultimately helped to improve its speed-to-market and overall business agility.

In addition to that, companies should also focus on cultivating a culture of continuous learning with sponsored learning and development programs across technical and soft skills. We also encourage our employees to participate in open-source communities, where they can collaborate with other professionals and learn from their peers.

skills shortage

Companies should focus on cultivating a culture of continuous learning with sponsored learning and development programs across technical and soft skills(Source – Shutterstock)

TWA: Can companies look to technology to help them reduce the talent gap, especially for roles that can be automated?

As companies seek to meet the demands of a rapidly changing business landscape, technology has become an essential tool in bridging the talent gap. While the shortage of skilled workers in Malaysia remains a challenge, businesses can turn to automation, AI, and machine learning to streamline their operations and optimize their workforce. By automating routine and repetitive tasks, organizations can free up their employees to focus on more complex and strategic work, which in turn can improve efficiency and drive growth.

For example, with energy company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform was used to aggregate and manage TNB’s cloud infrastructure from different providers. This allowed TNB to better plan and design its overall cloud platform. Automating aspects of their cloud platform also meant the team could reduce menial repetitive tasks, eliminate resource wastage, and improve time to market. With the help of automation, employee productivity and morale are boosted, which allows them to focus on more high-level, innovative and strategic activities.

However, it is crucial to recognize that technology should complement, not replace, the human workforce. The goal should be to use technology to amplify human capabilities, rather than to displace them. Organizations must ensure that their technology implementations are aligned with their business development goals and strategies, focusing on upskilling or reskilling employees to work with new technologies rather than solely relying on automation.

TWA: At the same time, with talent scarcity, should companies slow down their tech adoption?

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, companies need to embrace technology to remain competitive. Despite the talent shortage, companies should not slow down their tech adoption and shift their mindsets from technology as an added cost to technology as a business driver.

Companies should assess their current and future needs and choose the right technology solutions that align with their business objectives. Below are some key considerations:

  • Technological: Introducing a new technology or product comes with both risks and opportunities. The key to successful adoption is to show that the benefits outweigh those risks while also working to mitigate them.
  • Financial: This includes investments and costs related to owning, operating, and scaling the use of new technology. Some areas to assess include the total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI), and IT chargeback.
  • Organizational: Assessing how adopting the new technology will result in changes in organizational leadership, processes and culture, and the impact on the organization’s teams.
  • Psychological: This includes beliefs and habits that can impact the adoption of new technology. Some elements that will influence a team’s perception of technology include product usefulness and experience.


TWA: Open source is a coveted skill in APAC. However, skills in the field are still not sufficient. Why?

While open-source skills are certainly in high demand, we continue to face skills shortages in this area. According to the 10th Annual Open Source Jobs Report by The Linux Foundation, in 2022, a majority of employers (93%) reported difficulty in finding sufficient talent with open source skills. Despite this, 86% of employers said that hiring open-source talent was a priority for 2022 and 46% of employers had plans to increase their open-source hiring in the last six months of 2022.

A significant reason that has led to this is the lack of formal education and training programs for open source. While some universities in the region offer open source-related courses, many remain focused on proprietary software. As a result, many students may not be exposed to open-source technologies during their education, leaving them unprepared to take on relevant roles in the workforce.

To address this gap, the Red Hat Academy, a training and certification program designed to help educational institutions teach the latest open-source technology and practices to their students was established. The program provides institutions with free access to Red Hat’s open-source curriculum and provides a platform for collaboration with other institutions and industry professionals.

By partnering with academic institutions and providing access to its curriculum, Red Hat is able to help create a pipeline of talent with the open-source skills necessary to meet the needs of the industry. We are currently working on establishing and strengthening this program in Malaysia and would be open to discussions with interested institutions.