While organisations in Malaysia are increasingly confident about having and hiring talent with the right skills, most are still undergoing restructuring to adapt to changing skill requirements, finds the latest Asia Salary Guide report by leading recruitment experts Hays.

This year marks the 13th edition of the annual Hays Asia Salary Guide, which remains a definitive snapshot of salaries for positions across industries in Asia. The salary and hiring insights, including a thorough market overview of business outlooks, salary policies and recruitment trends, are based on survey responses from close to 6000 working professionals located in the five Hays operating markets in Asia; namely China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Skills confidence grows
When asked if their organisation had the talent needed to achieve current business objectives, 62 per cent of employers in Malaysia said ‘yes’, as compared to 56 per cent who said so last year. Similarly, 56 per cent of employers said they were confident or very confident that they will be able to recruit candidates with the skills needed to meet their organisation’s needs in the next 12 months. This is up from 54 per cent who thought so last year. Both statistics show a growing confidence in the current talent pool and skillsets available, which may be attributed in part to the Malaysian government’s efforts to promote cross-skilling, reskilling and upskilling in the existing workforce.

Productivity most impacted by skill shortages
But despite growing confidence, skill shortages are still very much an impending reality that most employers in Malaysia are expecting this year. When asked if skill shortages would hamper the effective operation of their business or department in 2020, only seven per cent said ‘no’, making them the lowest percentage in Asia to say so. However, 54 per cent said ‘yes – there will be some impact’, while 38 per cent said ‘yes – without a doubt’, making it apparent that the skills gap is still very much present.

When asked in which areas skill shortages have most negatively impacted their organisation, most employers said productivity (68 per cent), followed by growth or expansion (56 per cent) and innovation or creativity (51 per cent). The latter is an interesting development, having moved up 12 per cent from last year and showing an increased understanding of the more intangible impact that skill shortages can have.

For the second year in a row, employers largely attribute skill shortages to ‘lack of training and professional development’ (52 per cent), followed by ‘competition for roles/job opportunities’ (43 per cent) and ‘lack of career progression opportunities’ (40 per cent).

Malaysia most likely to hire from overseas in skill short areas
To address immediate skill shortages in their organisations, most employers (63 per cent) said they have worked on upskilling their current workforce by identifying skills gaps and providing training in areas found lacking. This score was the highest in Asia after China (66 per cent). 46 per cent said they worked on improving their attraction strategy, while 38 per cent said they transferred employees between different functions. Adding to this, when asked if they were currently restructuring their department or organisation to keep up with changing business needs, 69 per cent of respondents said ‘yes’ – the highest percentage to say so in Asia after Japan and a continued trend from last year where 72 per cent felt the same way. 62 percent attributed this restructuring to changes in required skill sets, while 44 per cent attributed it to digital transformation.

Tom Osborne, Managing Director at Hays Malaysia commented, “Global geopolitics and Malaysia’s rapid digitalisation have led to many industries transforming the way they work. This has understandably led to a skills gap in recent years which has seen increasing attention from the both businesses and the government in the form of programmes and initiatives to promote upskilling. It is heartening to see the results of this show in our report. We hope the trend continues as more businesses adapt to leaner, more streamlined processes and subsequently train their staff so they remain enabled to deliver maximum productivity.”