With renewable energy and a new R&D infrastructure,
Malaysia’s engineering sector is building on solid ground

With the fall out of the global pandemic hampering day-to-day operations through disrupted supply chains and restricted movement, Malaysia’s engineering sector was rightly concerned for the future. This was then compounded as the price of oil – a major driver of the country’s economy – fell to historical lows.

However, thanks to wide-ranging governmental stimulus packages guaranteeing many of the major projects outlined in the year’s budget and the rebounding of oil prices above and beyond expectations, 2021 is looking to be a year of resurgence.

“Malaysia’s engineering sector has taken the opportunity of crisis to re-evaluate the way it manoeuvres, and in the year ahead we foresee a shift in objectives that spells an injection of recruitment in new and exciting areas,” explains Tom Osborne, Managing Director at Hays Malaysia. “Part of this is a government drive to move away from being technology users to becoming a nation of technological innovators.”

There has been a recent influx of research and development (R&D) hubs established in northern Malaysia, and there are more to come as plans are made to increase gross domestic expenditure on R&D to 3.5 per cent by 2030. As the country moves into this relatively new field, a swathe of talent will be required and locating them will be the challenge for employers in the year ahead.

“As Malaysia has historically been a manufacturing and engineering hub, this new R&D talent pool is markedly shallow,” continues Tom. “Of course, recruiting for management positions will be easier, as the soft skills that high-level candidates possess are easily transferrable. What will be more difficult is locating the niche technological professionals who live and breathe their product.

“This means that these highly-sought after candidates can expect numerous offers from recruiters, and as such will be able to demand impressive remuneration packages.”

Another sector for which change is afoot is the oil and gas industries. Although oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, the sudden drop has alerted organisations as to how quickly things can change and the importance of diversification.

“Globally we are seeing a concerted movement towards renewable energies, and traditional oil and gas companies are increasingly moving in this area, creating a broad array of employment possibilities,” adds Tom.

“Further driving this is the trend for hybrid and electronic vehicles, and as this will minimise requirements for oil, companies are serious about diversification. In addition, Malaysia’s manufacturing sectors are looking to capitalise on the EV boom as related companies establish and invest in factories for the production of related products such as LED lights. This is a huge opportunity for Malaysia, so we are expecting more recruitment in the area.”

As engineering is a key growth catalyst for Malaysia’s economy, the coming year should see numerous developments in this area alongside R&D, oil and manufacturing, and as a consequence competition for candidates with the requisite skillsets and specialisms will be fierce.

“For companies looking to get ahead, it is imperative that they act fast and without hesitation when locating talent, as a candidate who is available now may not be tomorrow,” says Tom. “But perhaps even more important is forward planning and predicting recruitment needs, and targeting employees at a variety of different companies, as this diversity of thinking incubates innovation.

“Furthermore, though it is true that candidates may go fast, the recruitment process can take longer than expected, and so starting that procedure when needs are critical may already be too late.”

An overview of what other trends have been observed in Malaysia’s engineering sector can be viewed below:

  • With China playing such an influential role in the Malaysia market, bilingual talent with high-level Mandarin proficiency is increasingly sought after for mid-level positions.
  • There is an overwhelming demand for candidates with regional Southeast Asia experience, particularly domestic talent who have recently returned from employment overseas.
  • Candidates are increasingly requesting mobility of employers. In many cases, this may mean the possibility to operate overseas, but many also wish to rotate around the company in order to develop new skillsets.
  • Though the overall engineering candidate market remains balanced in 2021, the food sector, resistant to the travails of the pandemic, is expected to be job rich in the coming year.

To download the Inside Story of Engineering in Malaysia report, please click here.




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 66,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 235,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 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