Malaysia continues to be a growing knowledge and service-based economy but challenges such as a lack of workforce planning and insufficient investment in staff training and development could present barriers to progress in 2013, according to recruiting experts Hays.
“There needs to be more focus placed on identifying future skill requirements as well as on investment in workforce innovation and up skilling the existing workforce,” says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia and Singapore.
“In other trends, fast growing sectors such as Business Process Outsourcing continue to see staff churn particularly amongst younger workers where there are rising expectations around pay and conditions,” says Chris.
“Many employers will face the challenge of balancing staff retention and upward pressure on salaries with a need to contain costs as the global economy and China’s slowing rate of growth has an impact,” he says.
The Malaysian Government forecasts show growth is expected across the services sector and oil and gas with more modest growth in manufacturing and construction.
According to Hays, these are the top 10 talent trends for 2013:
1. Use of expats: The Malaysian Government is rolling out changes to its Immigration Department including a new Expatriate Services Division to officially open in early 2013. The new agency will manage services related to in demand expatriate workers. As part of the pre-launch activities, the government issued Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T) status to 21 corporate leaders in “National Key Economic Area” sectors such as business services, oil and gas, financial services and education. This type of Malaysian visa allows people to work for up to 10 years and will be offered to expats with the right skills signalling continuing demand for expat talent.
2. Economic outlook: Domestic demand for goods and services strengthened in 2012 and is expected to increase further in 2013.Malaysia’s GDP is expected to grow by at least 3.8 per cent next year, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Economists from Bank Negara Malaysia and the World Bank are optimistic projecting growth of more than 4 per cent while the Malaysian Government expects GDP growth of up to 5 per cent if global conditions improve.
3. Continuing skills shortage: Skills needed in Malaysia cover both white-collar and blue-collar roles. These include ICT and knowledge workers and those with finance skill sets, as well as building sector trades, particularly welders.
4. Staff turnover: The outsourcing sector is still seeing higher rates of staff churn than many others sectors and this is expected to continue next year. Many younger workers in this sector are increasingly mobile as they search for better pay and conditions in new job roles.
5. Rising salaries: Malaysia this year introduced a minimum wage for the private sector with businesses having until January 1, 2013 to comply.“I would have to agree with economists that setting a minimum wage could help address wage inequality and encourage greater workforce participation rates here,” says Chris.Overall, salaries are expected to see modest growth over the coming year with the largest increases expected for a range of “in demand” roles such as ICT roles, some manufacturing jobs, engineering roles, banking and finance roles and jobs in the pharmaceutical sector.
6. Focus on female workforce: The Malaysian Government has set a target of increasing female workforce participation to 55 per cent by 2015. It is currently about 47 per cent. “Boosting the female workforce participation rates is a way of increasing productivity and addressing skills shortages,” says Chris. “However, Malaysia has a unique problem. Unlike other Asian countries where women leave the workforce to raise families and then return later in their lives, Malaysian women tend not to return.”
7. Need for staff development: The report, Learning, Talent and Innovation in Asia, compiled by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management and the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and reported in the latest edition of the Hays journal, analysed the talent challenges in six parts of Asia, including Malaysia. It advises Malaysia to follow the Chinese example of investing in talent strategies and helping staff develop business skills, particularly leadership and people management capabilities.
8. Public investment: Malaysia’s public investment, increased by almost 30 per cent in the quarter to June 2012 largely off the back of $450 billion worth of new infrastructure projects. These projects will continue to take shape in 2013 creating jobs and domestic spending.
9. Social media: Malaysian job hunters, particularly Gen Y and Gen X, are increasingly comfortable using social media as part of their job search and personal branding efforts. Malaysian candidates of all ages also appear to have a good awareness of the career perils posed by social media such as posting inappropriate remarks online. Employers are also being encouraged to include social media as part of their recruitment mix but to seek expert guidance to ensure they protect their brand and adequately test claims candidates make in their online profiles.
10. Unemployment Going into 2013 the unemployment rate across the Asia and the Pacific will continue to hover above 10 per cent, but in Malaysia the rate remains very low by global standards. Unemployment increased from 2.8 per cent in mid-2012 to 3.4 per cent for the year but is expected to hover around three percent in 2013.
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people. Voted Asia’s Best Finance and Accounting Executive Recruiter in the 2012 CFO Innovations Awards.