New manufacturing and operations roles set to deepen candidate shortages in Malaysia


Plant expansions and set-ups of new production facilities are driving the creation of new jobs within the manufacturing and operations sector in Malaysia.

New headcount is being ushered in and local HR managers expect a busy year ahead to find skilled talent to fill these vacant positions, according to recruiting experts Hays.

“Strong demand for talent in manufacturing and operations will continue, driven by expansion of existing plants and the establishment of new facilities,” says Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia. “In Malaysia, people’s mounting demand for products is fuelling the growth of industrial players and as a result additional jobs and headcount. New plants are also being set up by companies relocating from high-cost markets to Malaysia.”

According to the latest Hays Quarterly Report of skills in demand, areas such as health and safety are seeing a shortage of candidates as employers look to hire professionals with specific skills to ensure safety of work facilities and plants.

“Manufacturing employers hope to find the right candidates with the right skills to ensure a smooth operation of their local businesses,” said Tom. “Demand for high-skilled professionals are still industry-specific however.”

Demand for operation managers in food processing and medical devices is growing extremely fast powered by not only plant expansions, but also an increasing number of retiring professionals. Hays finds that a noticeable increase of demand in these two sectors has occurred. However, specific skills needed for these roles are in short supply.

“Normally, it would be unusual that hiring activities rise substantially, but new investments in plants have prompted employers to search for capable managers,” Tom says. “In this quarter, we’ll see more and more new roles created in a market where skill shortages have already been a stumbling block.”

“Employers will have to create effective plans to make sure that their expanded plants or new facilities run smoothly,” Tom says. “They can either raise budgets to secure the limited number of available qualified managers, train and develop existing staff to fill new positions or consider overseas talent.”

In some areas such as mid- to senior-level engineers, candidates are scarce with some employers spending about a year to recruit professionals, in vain.

Tom says candidates remain cautious about changing jobs and they won’t accept new offers unless employers offer a salary increase of at least 20 per cent.

“A pay rise isn’t the only reason for highly-skilled talent to consider moving out of an existing role,” he says. “Career advancement is another key motivator. If they are offered a regional role for example, chances of them accepting will increase.”

Another challenge is that companies are choosing increasingly remote locations within Malaysia to establish their operations, and are finding it hard to attract candidates willing 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.

To see the full list of skills in demand and trends for your industry, please visit

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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