Though 2020 was a year of extraordinary worldwide upheaval, in Malaysia, both the government and local businesses are pointing to a potential for substantial growth in the coming year, says recruiting experts Hays, as part of the country’s top ten talent trends for 2021.

Key to exploiting the changes in both domestic and global industry will be in how companies adapt to a more technologically determined world, influenced by shifts in working from home practices, e-commerce and cloud technologies. To do so they will need to attract candidates with superlative digital skills.

One of the sectors most affected by these changes is the financial industry, and as Malaysian banking shifts in the direction of open banking systems, fintech will take a more visible role, meaning that there is to be an exponentially greater requirement for user experience and user interface designers who have experience in not only regular banking products but also e-Wallets, KYC and other such products. However, while junior and mid-level designers are sourced with relative ease, there are fewer designers with team leading experience in the market, driving a race for candidates who can lead UX talent.

“We have seen a dramatic landscape shift into digitalisation, and how companies react in the coming year will have a phenomenal impact on how they recover and progress,” says Tom Osborne, Managing Director for Hays in Malaysia. “We are already seeing operators in the insurance industry, one of the world’s oldest and most rigid professions, dramatically alter how they function, with Malaysian courts taking the unprecedented steps of remote trials and case managements, while in-house legal counsels have opted to work remotely or from home, a step that had previously been inconceivable. Elsewhere, the sales industry – perhaps one of the most adversely impacted by the pandemic – has taken ever-increasing steps to focus on e-commerce and online operations.

“In order to drive this change, having the right leaders in place will be of utmost importance, so employers will be on the lookout for candidates to take them forward. We are already seeing life sciences companies sourcing project managers and site managers with business acumen and commercial capabilities to support increasing clinical trials in pharma companies, and in HR departments, managerial roles that were once the preserve of contractors are being moved inhouse.”

“Furthermore, with shared services continuing to thrive, governmental regulations creating positive disruption in the legal industry, and digital user experience changes, Malaysia’s employment market is set to be as healthy as ever in 2021.”

Hays’ Top Ten Talent Trends for 2021 in Malaysia are:

1. Energy and utilities set for massive growth

Targeting a economic rejuvenation following the pandemic outbreak, the Malaysian government in 2020 sought to further exploit the possibilities of green energy, making the nation an increasingly important player on the global eco-energy stage. This was particularly notable in the solar energy field, as the government offered subsidies and incentives for organisations operating in the area. In 2021, this continued support will see Malaysia play an even more prominent role in the sector, creating a boom for the ever-resilient manufacturing sector, which itself has seen increased public investment into specialist areas such as R&D.

2. Financial planning and analyst trends are expected to evolve.

Though concern over the current pandemic situation remains, many companies in Malaysia are looking ahead with optimism, expecting to recover and thrive once again. As such, the nation’s business leaders are looking to financial planning and analyst teams to execute more agile and efficient planning processes, helping them to adapt to ever-changing business conditions. To this end, teams will be augmented by various job titles in commercial finance, FP&A teams and business partners.

3. Legal candidates with compliance experience in great demand.

Due to last year’s enforcement of S.17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, there will be greater demand for lawyers with pertinent legal and compliance experience to ensure that portfolios are adequately covered, and costs are saved, something that is essential in the current employment climate. Furthermore, as a result of the coronavirus’ impact upon multinational organisations, global business operation centres and shared services centres have seen headcount increases, leading to greater requirements for legal professionals in Malaysia.

4. A new workforce for insurance talent in financial services

With over one fifth of Malaysians now using digital banking – a trend predicted for an upward trajectory in the coming years – and the rise of other mobile banking products such as virtual wallets and investment applications, finance and insurance companies are compelled to become more digitally focussed. As a result, employers seeking an edge in this growth industry require an influx of financial, analytical, and technical talent who are able deliver these innovations. Positions in high demand will be found in finance transformation and process improvement, contract hiring for IFRS 17 projects and general ledger, as well as candidates adept in both accounting standards and systems.

5. HR becoming more efficient through the hiring of project managers and shared service candidates

Malaysia is a prime location for shared service centres, with numerous organisations basing their operations in the country. In 2021, companies will be looking to take the next step in this process, becoming more efficient in the services that they provide. To this end, employers will be actively recruiting HR professionals with experience in automating processes, and those who understand the various HR tools and technologies that can enhance the efficiency of the entire HR cycle. While these positions will predominantly be on a contract basis, there is potential scope for project managers being recruited to eventually head HR services departments.

6. The rise in user experience enhancements

As mature product and tech companies – including Google, Facebook, Netflix and Spotify – structure their design teams to reflect a more ‘experience design’ operation, employers are keen on hiring candidates with holistic experience in the area. This has sparked a drive for individuals who are not only adept in product design, but also service design and CX across all digital channels, with mid-level design roles in pure UI and pure UX also necessary. These positions, which were traditionally outsourced to design agencies, are being moved into inhouse design teams, giving companies greater ownership of product development lifecycle as well as cutting costs.

7. Demand for cloud professionals rampant as companies become hybrid working models

More and more companies are coming around to the benefits of hosting applications on the cloud, which means that 2021 will be a year of exponential demand for cloud technology, sparking a hunt for candidates with cloud security and DevSecOps skills. This move away from traditional development and towards microservice is due in part to remote working becoming the new normal, as companies transition online. This will be especially notable in FI and e-commerce, creating a surge in demand for IT support engineers who are skilled in Active Directory, end-user technology, network and security.

8. Marketing candidates expected to have better digital and soft skills

With the continued impact of COVID-19, marketing departments will be expected to make employees, clients and customers aware of how effectively organisations are handling and communicating the situation, creating an intensification of focus on marketing and brand communications. This transition to more integrated marketing campaigns means that candidates operating in the sector will be expected to prove that they have at least surface-level understanding of both digital and traditional marketing.

9. New roles in supply chain are set to integrate current processes

Dramatic global shifts are creating a boom in manufacturing companies establishing shared service centres within Malaysia. As this requires greater integration between supply chain and the business, new job titles such as supply chain manager and business process owner are being created. These positions, with a focus on automation and technology, are key to the future of supply chain and procurement in Malaysia, and candidates will be required to be flexible, able to transfer knowledge from established processes, and be in possession of systems knowledge as teams become leaner in the coming year.

10. Sales industry set to expand e-commerce and online sales efforts

One of the sectors impacted hardest by the global pandemic was the sales industry, creating a shift of focus from international and export businesses to the domestic market. This change will see companies evolve in 2021, with a greater emphasis on e-commerce and online sales right across the board. For non-essential retailers there will remain some caution in recruitment, however industries such as food, tech, pharma and manufacturing will be actively hiring in the coming twelve months.




About Hays Malaysia

Agensi Pekerjaan Hays (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd ("Hays Malaysia") is one of the leading specialist recruitment companies in Malaysia in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. We provide mid to senior level recruitment services across both finance and commerce industries. We have become known as the experts in sourcing regional and global candidates, as well as returning Malaysians.

Hays has been in Malaysia since 2012 and boasts a track record of success and growth, with two operating offices located in KLCC and Sunway. At Hays in Malaysia, we operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent positions in the following specialisms: Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Construction, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance, Legal, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Marketing & Digital, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales.


About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2020 the Group employed c.10,400 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2020:

  • the Group reported net fees of £996.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £135.0 million;
  • the Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;
  • 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
  • IT is the Group’s largest specialism, with 25% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA