Academicians laud post Covid-19 plan

KUCHING: Academicians have praised the state government’s Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) initiative to create more jobs in future to improve the state’s economy and standard of living. 

With the plan, announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on July 22, Sarawak is expected to generate additional 200,000 high paying jobs by 2030.

Besides that, the growth of the state’s economic sectors such as manufacturing, commercial agriculture, tourism, forestry, mining and social services was expected to position Sarawak as an attractive investment destination. 

Commenting on the plan, Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow Datuk Dr Madeline Berma said the state recognised the need for a deliberate effort to accelerate the creation of jobs and support the most vulnerable members of society and the recovery of the hardest-hit economic sectors.

Datuk Dr Madeline Berma

“Safeguarding and recreating decent jobs for Sarawakians, particularly youth are critical priorities in the plan.  It is evident, that the state is using the Covid-19 downturn to retrain and future-proof its workforce.

“In the short term, the state will focus on rapid upskilling to reboot the economy and must include high-paying, skill-based jobs that are essential to creating the momentum of sustainable job creation.

“In the longer term, the state needs to focus on upskilling and reskilling to enable individuals to move into careers aligned with future-skill trends,” said the economist.

She added that Sarawak should also focus on digital literacy and social and emotional skills for workers to stay relevant in a more dynamic and digitised labour market.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Faculty of Language and Communication senior lecturer Dr Joseph Ramanair said the pandemic had clearly shown that investing in human capital was the way forward.

Dr Joseph Ramanair

“The future in the pandemic context is far from predictable but we need to persevere in our hope and investment in the survival of humanity,” he said

Joseph expected some major challenges to the plan such as human attitude and the rapid speed of technological innovations.

“The technology of the future is here now without us realising it and a failure to recognise it will throw a spanner in the works. We must be resilient in the face of challenges and uncertainties,” he said.  

Associate Professor Dr Neilson Ilan Mersat

Meanwhile, Unimas’ Associate Professor Dr Neilson Ilan Mersat believed that the plan could be achieved by 2030 after detailed research on the current overall development in Sarawak including human resources and natural resources.

“I am sure the plan is not something being produced haphazardly or being plucked from the air. It was announced after careful consideration or calculations,” he added.

“Of course, we anticipate challenges along the way too, such as the Covid-19 pandemic which derailed a lot of plans and activities that have been planned for many years,” he said.