28 AUGUST 2023 | 3.00 PM


Good afternoon, Salam Penang2030 and Salam Malaysia Madani.


I am truly honoured to be here today at this significant event, as we gather to celebrate the Special Scholarship Sponsorship Ceremony organized by Wawasan Open University (WOU) for deserving Penangites. This partnership between WOU, the State Government, and the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) highlights our collective commitment to providing equal educational opportunities and fostering the growth of our state's human capital.

I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Wawasan Open University for their dedication to education and their role in initiating these scholarships. As we stand within the premises of the WOU Main Campus, it is evident that this institution values education as a transformative tool, one that can elevate the aspirations of individuals and contribute to the overall progress of our society.

These scholarships, comprising two distinct categories, underscore the emphasis on inclusivity and skill development. Category 1, open to qualified Penang citizens, and Category 2, catering specifically to women citizens of Penang which valued up to RM700,000, signify a targeted approach to addressing educational and gender disparities. This progressive stance aligns with our collective ambition to empower our citizens and equip them with the skills needed to thrive in an evolving world.

In recognition of the evolving technological landscape, WOU has taken also significant steps by establishing the School of Digital Technology (DiGiT) and announcing the forthcoming launch of the School of Technology and Engineering Science (STE). These initiatives are indicative of WOU’s foresight and responsiveness to the demands of the digital era. They pave the way for learners to acquire essential skills that are crucial for their success in the contemporary workforce.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While Penang's economic achievements are indeed commendable and continues to thrive, evidenced by the RM13.7 billion in approved manufacturing investments in 2022, it is imperative that we acknowledge the challenges that come hand in hand with growth. In my capacity as the Chief Minister, I have engaged extensively with industry leaders, and a consistent concern that resonates is the shortage of skilled talents. It is a challenge that, if left unattended, could impede our state’s progress.

In light of this, the State Government, through InvestPenang, Digital Penang, Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) and other agencies, has taken deliberate steps to address this issue. The establishment of Penang STEM in 2017 was a proactive step to cultivate STEM skills beyond the conventional curriculum. It is heartening to note that from January to June 2023, a total of 45,464 students from primary and secondary schools have benefited from these initiatives, engaging in workshops, programmes, and activities that enhance their practical skills.

The commitment to talent development is further manifested in our Penang2030 vision, which aims to train a substantial number of participants in the STEM/TVET field. Initiatives such as the Tech Start Program, Penang Digital Literacy Camp, Girls in Engineering, and the German Dual Vocational Training Program underscore our concerted efforts to nurture a pool of skilled professionals who can effectively address the evolving needs of industries.

Nonetheless, this challenge cannot be tackled by a single entity alone. The collaboration between educational institutions, industry stakeholders, and government bodies is imperative. A 2022 study by the Penang Institute highlighted the exorbitant cost of the talent gap, estimating a staggering RM10 billion in lost productivity annually due to the shortage of skilled workers. This study further underscores the imperative for an inclusive and comprehensive strategy to address this concern.

It is undeniable that Penang holds immense potential within its dynamic landscape. As of the first quarter of 2023, Penang ranked second in the nation's approved manufacturing investments, with RM3.3 billion registered. This impressive figure translates into 35 manufacturing projects, poised to generate over 2,200 new job opportunities within the state. Our strategic location, coupled with attractive industrial zones, presents an environment ripe for growth. However, the foundation of this progress hinges on our collaborative ability to nurture and harness talent.

In this era of technology-driven transformation, graduates must emerge not only with degrees but also with profound skills that align with industry requirements. The paradigm shift necessitates continuous upskilling and reskilling, wherein micro-credentials and short professional courses play a pivotal role, and where the symbiotic relationship between academia and industry remains key in crafting work-ready graduates.

Accordingly, I am pleased that the scholarships being offered today are not just about financial support; they symbolize a partnership between the government, education and industry, a commitment to empowering individuals to become the leaders, innovators, and problem solvers of tomorrow. I applaud Wawasan Open University for taking this proactive step, particularly in recognizing the need to empower women in the workforce, a segment that brings unique perspectives and strengths to the table.

Looking ahead, I anticipate witnessing more collaborative endeavours like this, and I encourage all stakeholders involved to continue championing these initiatives. Let us not forget that education is about more than just acquiring knowledge; it's about transforming lives, creating opportunities, and shaping a brighter future for our beloved Penang. I also urge all eligible individuals to seize this opportunity, embark on a journey of growth, and contribute to the advancement of our state in line with the Penang2030 vision of ‘A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’.

With that said, it is with great honour and pleasure that I hereby officiate the Special Scholarship Sponsorship Ceremony by Wawasan Open University for Penangites.

Thank you.

Pejabat Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang Tingkat 28, KOMTAR, 10502, George Town, Pulau Pinang