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Malaysia’s top 10 talent trends for 2016


Malaysia’s job market will experience a surge in activity in 2016 as more and more multinational companies take advantage of the country’s geographical location, language capabilities and abundant pool of skilled workers to set up their regional service centres, according to recruiting experts Hays.

Foreign companies will also be attracted by the depreciation of the local currency which will enable them to establish lower cost centres in 2016.

“Malaysia is an ideal location for MNCs to set up their contact centres and shared service centres,” says Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia. “We will see a growing number of new regional centres established and rising demand for skilled candidates to fill their job vacancies in 2016.”

According to Hays, the reasonable cost of salaries and the skills of local talent will continue to attract MNCs to set up shared services centres, while more online businesses are expected to spring up in 2016 due to local consumers becoming more digitally savvy in their shopping habits.

Increased recruitment drives and on-the-job training will be prevalent as start-ups and larger organisations try and race ahead of their competitors to claim a stake in the budding e-commerce industry.

“Malaysia’s online market is maturing and will offer tremendous job opportunities for not only those candidates with an IT background, but also those who can improve efficiencies via the use of the Internet and other digital tools,” Tom says. “Other trends in the job market include the increasing demand for retail banking professionals, and the relocation of manufacturing facilities from other high-cost locations to Malaysia that will result in a wave of hiring.”

Hays’ top 10 talent trends for 2016 in Malaysia are:

1. Shared service centres: Malaysia will see a steady growth of multinational companies setting up new shared service centres or contact centres thanks to its established status as a low-cost location in the region. Malaysia’s geographical location in Asia Pacific, language capabilities, the cost of salaries and the skill level of local talent are appealing factors for foreign companies. The decline of the local currency makes Malaysia an even more attractive destination to set up shared service centres, which will usher in huge demand for skilled workers to fill vacancies.

2. Revival of retail banking: For the last two years, most banks have been focusing on the growth of their Corporate & Commercial Banking segments. However, with economic conditions improving, they are now going back to basics and strengthening their retail banking offering. The majority of banks are looking to enhance bankcards, mortgages and wealth management segments. In 2016 this will create demand for salespeople, especially with cross-selling capabilities.

3. Growth of online businesses: The growth of online businesses will continue in 2016. E-commerce has seen tremendous growth in Malaysia as the market matures and consumer online shopping habits advance. Both start-ups and larger corporations are trying to move quickly to get their piece of the e-commerce pie. The battle for supremacy in cyberspace will lead to competition for qualified IT talent and skilled candidates who are at the forefront of the digital era.

4. IT security: Skills shortages in IT security will be a new trend in 2016. We find that demand is rising faster than the supply of SOC analysts and security assurance specialists. This is the result of fast-growing data processing technologies coming into play. Candidates with forensic and hacking skills are especially in demand. Those with knowledge in patching, monitoring and configuration will be sought after to minimise security threats.

5.Big data: Rising demand for ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) developers and business intelligence analysts will be another new trend in 2016, since expertise in various technologies and data tools is critical for organisations. For those businesses in which forecasting and determining the root cause hold the key to success, these candidates will be in especially high demand.

6. Life sciences: Great changes will take place in the life sciences sector in 2016. Home-based companies are gearing up for rapid expansion in 2016. Established local players with strong market knowledge are introducing new medical services and require additional manpower to support this development. They are looking to gain a lead as political and economic uncertainty has dented the appetite for investment from a number of international pharmaceutical companies. This will have a significant impact on new international players planning to invest in the market.

7. Higher status of HR professionals: With signs of improvement in the economy, retention will be the key challenge as workers become more confident in exploring new job opportunities. Organisations should look beyond recruitment processes to improve their hiring outcomes. Organisations will try to identify top performers and analyse how compensation, career development and engagement impact their retention. HR will move from reacting to backfilling vacancies to proactive workforce planning and they will develop more accurate hiring plans based on critical business needs. Hence, we will see an increase in demand for talent managers, compensation & benefits as well as learning & development skills across Malaysia.

8. Detariffication in General Insurance: General insurers will be allowed to offer variable premiums based on the risk profiles of their products. In terms of staffing demand, this will result in a significant increase in the need for business development professionals and marketing managers as organisations look to increase revenue. There will also be further demand for capable underwriters because a greater sophistication is expected when insurers price products amidst loosened regulations.

9. Manufacturing: The manufacturing sector will remain strong in 2016. Benefiting from the currency depreciation, there will be significant improvements in business activities in electronics, pharmaceutical and food manufacturing. More new plants will be set up with companies relocating from high-cost markets to Malaysia. As companies are choosing increasingly remote locations within Malaysia to establish their operations, they face a critical challenge relating to candidate attraction and candidate willingness to relocate. This has driven employers to be flexible and creative when developing remuneration packages, as well as considering foreign candidates with the niche skills required.

10. Talent pool: Young workers will gradually replace aging workers as they retire. HR managers will face challenges in engaging with and retaining the younger generations, while also ensuring knowledge and skills are at the same levels as before. HR will play a significant role in helping organisations to predict and identify critical skills needed for the coming decades while motivating, training and retaining younger workers.

For more information on any of these trends or the local recruitment market please feel free to contact your local Hays office.

Hays is located in Kuala Lumpur at Suite 4 & 5, Level 23, Menara 3, Petronas, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Phone +60 3 2786 8600 or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Kerryn Celine, Senior Marketing Executive - South East Asia at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9844 or



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