Futuremakers by Standard Chartered: Elevating Malaysia's workforce into the digital age

Future of Work


Success Stories and Case Studies

Futuremakers by Standard Chartered: Elevating Malaysia's workforce into the digital age

Nasalia Latiff
March 14, 2024

Nasalia Latiff

Nasalia combines the art of selling with the science of digital marketing, making her a shining star in the field. Her creative mind and smart plans illuminate the marketing landscape at once.

February 23, 2024

Elevating Malaysia's Workforce into the Digital Age

In the face of a daunting global employment landscape, where the World Bank projects a need for over 600 million new jobs in the next decade to accommodate the burgeoning youth population entering the workforce, Malaysia stands at a critical juncture. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only intensified existing challenges but also accelerated the shift towards a digital economy, reshaping the essence of work, employment, and skills acquisition.

A Digital Divide in an Evolving Job Market

The stark reality, underscored by escalating unemployment rates and a significant skills gap, paints a grim picture of the Malaysian job market. In 2021, despite a peak unemployment rate of 5.3% the previous year, the number increased and the unemployment rate slightly improved to 4.1%, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). However, the surge in unemployment is visible which indicates a stark indicator of the systemic issues plaguing the workforce: a mismatch between the skills acquired through traditional education and the demands of the modern job market.

The digital divide further exacerbates this issue, leaving a significant portion of the youth, especially those from low-income communities or the B40 segment, at a disadvantage. These individuals are often the most vulnerable to economic shifts and technological advancements, lacking access to the resources and opportunities necessary to bridge the gap between their current skill sets and the demands of the digital economy.

Bridging the Gap Through Digital Entrepreneurship

The alliance between Futuremakers by Standard Chartered and Mereka was formed with the aim of breaking down the barriers to digital inclusion and fostering upward social mobility among Malaysia's B40 youth. Through its flagship Digital Entrepreneur program, Futuremakers seeks to empower the underemployed and unemployed youth, especially from the B40 segment, by equipping them with the skills necessary to thrive in the digital age. This comprehensive initiative not only addresses the immediate need for employment but also fosters long-term economic inclusion and growth by matching participants with SMEs undergoing digital transformation.

A Three-Phase Approach to Digital Mastery

The program distinguishes itself with a novel three-phase methodology: starting with one-month e-learning to build foundational digital skills, followed by 2-week virtual project placements that offer hands-on experience, and concluding with a rigorous mentorship for a year to measure the tangible outcomes of the initiative. By focusing on in-demand soft skills such as critical thinking, resilience, and a growth mindset, alongside technical skills for digital entrepreneurship, the initiative prepares youths for the realities of the modern job market.

The objectives of the Digital Entrepreneur Program are both ambitious and transformative, aiming to:

The Strategic Curriculum

The program encompasses a series of virtual learning sessions and interactive modules that guide participants through:

Each module, delivered through 2-hour virtual training sessions, is supplemented with pre-reading tasks and reflective assignments, encouraging participants to engage deeply with the content and apply their learnings in real-world scenarios.

Beyond the classroom, the program offers a pragmatic approach to career advancement through:

Continuous Learning and Growth

The journey doesn’t end with course completion. Participants gain access to a year-long mentorship program, connecting them with industry experts, successful freelancers, and program trainers. These monthly mentoring sessions are pivotal in supporting participants through their transition into the digital workforce, offering continuous guidance and fostering a community of learning and growth.

SMEs and Digital Transformation

Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between skilled workers and the needs of SMEs, the program also includes a Digital Transformation Training for selected SMEs. This training emphasizes the benefits of digital adoption and provides SMEs with actionable steps towards digitalization, ensuring they are well-equipped to partner effectively with the newly skilled workforce.

This strategic curriculum not only underscores the program’s commitment to empowering Malaysia's youth but also illustrates a forward-thinking approach to bridging the digital divide, ensuring that participants are not just prepared for the current digital economy but are also resilient and remain adaptable for the future.

Measuring Success: Beyond Numbers

The success of this initiative is measured not merely in its numbers but in the marked improvement in employability and the income levels of its participants. This achievement stands as a testament to the power of collaboration in driving digital empowerment and creating tangible, life-changing outcomes for Malaysia's youth. The Standard Chartered and Mereka alliance, through the Program, sets a new benchmark for how partnerships can effectively address the skills gap, empower economically disadvantaged communities, and contribute to the country's digital economy.

Evidencing Impact Through Learner Success

With data from 500 learners, the program reports remarkable achievements:

Moreover, the success of the Digital Entrepreneur program is a testament to its efficacy and impact. From its initial trial in 2020 to the subsequent cohorts, the program has not only seen a significant number of participants securing employment but has also contributed to the development of SMEs, thereby strengthening Malaysia's economy at large.

Transforming Digital Futures

Embracing the mission to forge a digitally inclusive Malaysia, this partnership has driven countless individuals into the digital age through the Future of Work Program. This initiative shines a light on the power of upskilling and reskilling, as shared by  Nurin Syasya, Sabriena Nizam, and Fadhrullah Hakim Yusop.

Nurin Syasya: A Gateway to the Gig Economy

"A Door or Window-like Programme. The programme has given me the basics and information needed for anyone interested in entering the gig world. It could also be helpful to those who are freelancers in such a way that they could identify their strengths and niches better while finding out more about their weaknesses and how to handle them. The speakers, hosts, and guests have been helpful and the sessions are very informational. Well, to put it simply, the programme is like one of those doors that could either open  you up [to] better opportunities or a window where you can look out of, to expand your views more."

Sabriena Nizam: Career and Well-Being Enhancement

"I enjoyed this program. All courses helped me improve in every aspect of my career and well-being. I appreciate all the instructors, they're very knowledgeable and willing to answer questions as they come up and explain it thoroughly. These courses helped me organize my ideas and apply them in the real world. Overall everything is excellent. Thank you for choosing me to join this FoW program. I honestly recommend this to others. I hope there's more like this program in the future."

Fadhrullah Hakim Yusop: From Graduation to Professional Success

"Everything about Future of Work was exceptional for a fresh graduate like me! Prior to joining the programme, I was clueless about how I could secure a job within the competitive market in Kuala Lumpur. I graduated in February 2022 and started applying for jobs but then, I realised that I had no solid experience and understanding of how to market myself. Throughout my journey with FoW, I managed to get into the graduate trainee programme with one of the respectable government-linked companies in Malaysia. In FoW, all the self-learning tutorials and after-office-hours classes were well-organised, and it helped me to learn about thriving in my first job and excelling within my capacities. I was recommended to join FoW last year but decided to give it a shot in 2023 as my goal was to use this opportunity to be more productive by further developing my professional and soft skills to the next level. FoW succeeds in exposing me to new schools of thought beyond what I had learned academically back in university. I gained meaningful insights through my short-term journey with them, and it allowed me to branch out into my future opportunities. As a past participant, I firmly believe that FoW is an important building block for anyone who would like to elevate their career to a better position."

Bridging Talent and Innovation with Project Placement

While the Future of Business is designed to bridge the gap between learning and practical application for youths, this initiative creates a win-win situation for both learners and businesses. Through a structured two-week paid project placement, learners operate as freelancers, applying their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios. This symbiotic relationship provides 146 SMEs with valuable insights and contributions, fostering growth and adaptability in today's fast-paced market.

Here is what they have to say:

Efficiency and Talent at Thrift Consulting, Nurul Huda

“Very efficient and talented. Able to complete tasks independently and with quality. Have the initiative to inform and update without waiting for a supervisor to follow up. She motivates me to work more for my business.”

Maximum satisfaction with Impactlution Sdn Bhd, Ai Ai

“Had the initiative to execute the planned digital materials without much guidance. The content prepared was suitable and aligned with our organization. The contents created were relevant. Prompt in delivery of materials.”

Beyond Expectation at Hikari Studios, Nicholas

“Solid technical skills, timely deliverables submission, committed to work and passionate to learn. Deliverables are above and beyond expectations, and highly undervalued talent.”

Looking Ahead: A Digital Future Rooted in Inclusion and Innovation

As Malaysia strides towards unlocking the full potential of its digital economy, initiatives like the Mereka’s Digital Entrepreneur program by Futuremakers play an important role in ensuring that no one is left behind. By addressing the systemic challenges head-on and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, the program not only enhances employability among the youth but also contributes to the overall resilience and growth of the Malaysian economy.

This focused approach, blending skill development with mentorship and real-world application, sets a precedent for how public-private partnerships can effectively address the digital divide, paving the way for a more inclusive and prosperous digital future for Malaysia.

Let's unite our efforts. With your support, we can expand the reach of digital education, creating a network of opportunities for communities and individuals to thrive in a connected world. Connect with us today!

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