Employers in Malaysia Prefer Hard Skills Over Soft Skills in Talents

The talent-short market in Malaysia is driving businesses to favour technical knowhow over emotional aptitude in candidates. This is one of the key findings in the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, a report that highlights salary and recruiting trends based on survey responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Hays Asia asked respondents the skills most sought-after by their organisation. Overall, over three in five (60 per cent) employers are more inclined to hire candidates with hard skills over soft skills, revealing that statistical analysis and data mining (voted by 55 per cent), project management (voted by 52 per cent), and computer skills (voted by 44 per cent) were the top teachable or technical skills in demand, in that order.

By contrast, employers in Malaysia are generally least interested in skills such as foreign language fluency (voted by eight per cent), web architecture and development framework (voted by ten per cent), and UX or UI design (voted by ten per cent).

In terms of soft skills, problem solving (voted by 87 per cent), team working (voted by 80 per cent), and verbal communication (voted by 78 per cent) were most coveted by businesses.

On the other hand, the psychological and emotional competencies that are at the bottom of employers’ priority lists were negotiation abilities (voted by 35 per cent), resilience (voted by 45 per cent) and flexibility (voted by 49 per cent).

Compared to Asia

Across Asia, three in five (59 per cent) employers deem hard skills more desirable in candidates than soft skills. This is most apparent in Malaysia with 65 per cent who say the same. However, respondents in Mainland China placed the least emphasis on hard skills while placing equal importance on soft skills.

The hard skills favoured by employers Asia-wide are project management (voted by 55 per cent), statistical analysis and data mining (voted by 59 per cent), and foreign language fluency (voted by 34 per cent).

When it comes to soft skills, employers in Asia deem problem solving as the most sought-after competency (voted by 75 per cent), followed by team working (voted by 70 per cent) and verbal communication (voted by 63 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Tom Osborne, Managing Director of Hays Malaysia says: “As industries and roles evolve and expand, the skills in demand are ever-changing. Businesses in Malaysia have been redefining the technical competencies required to grow and prosper.

With that in mind, candidates can benefit from staying abreast of industry developments and constantly upskill, or even reskill if needed, to maintain their competitiveness and therefore leverage in the employment market.

As for employers, soft skills should continue to be a relevant and important aspect when considering a new hire, as these skills are surely needed to complement even the deepest of knowledge and widest breadths of experience in order for both individuals and businesses to succeed.”

Download a softcopy of the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide here.

Last updated on April 30th, 2019