The Inside Story of Manufacturing and Operations in Malaysia

The Inside Story of Manufacturing and Operations in Malaysia

Market Overview
With a reported year-on-year sales growth of five per cent, the manufacturing and operations industry in Malaysia, which plays a pivotal role in Malaysia’s growing economy, is undoubtedly flourishing.

An uplifting sign of growing business confidence, despite external forces such as the Sino-US trade war, is the approved foreign direct investments (FDI) of RM41.6 billion dedicated to manufacturing projects in Malaysia within the span of five months since May 2018. Such encouragement is very much in line with the Malaysian government’s efforts to attract foreign investments and business opportunities, which will continue through the coming year.

Talents in the manufacturing and operations sector, according to the Department of Statistics in Malaysia (DOSM), have also stood to gain in these favourable conditions, having experienced an overall wage growth of ten per cent. To add, the overall number of individuals working in the sector had increased by two per cent over the last year.

With businesses looking to expand in the coming months, manufacturing and operations employers will be all the more active in their recruitment efforts. However, the extremely talent short market in this sector may pose as a challenge especially within niche specialisms directly required to drive business growth.

Skills in Demand
Manufacturing and operations are key functions across an array of industries in Malaysia, with Automotive, Electrical and Electronics (E&E) Products and Petroleum, Chemical, Rubber and Plastic Products being main drivers of the country’s economic advancements. The country also has been lauded internationally for its “innovation prowess” when it comes to manufacturing medical devices.

As Malaysia takes steps to becoming a world class manufacturing hub, many businesses ––especially within FMCG, medical devices and pharmaceutical industries –– are placing a greater emphasis on R&D and product design.

Many foreign MNCs with bases in Malaysia have been expanding their design centres to improve their product offerings. As a result, there has been a swell in demand for research engineers and specialists to improve existing products and discover new and cost-efficient production methods. In addition, product design engineers are also highly required to innovatively create new product offerings while taking into consideration product lifecycles and customer needs.

Furthermore, the semiconductor sector is poised for growth; extremely favourable predictions by experts suggesting that the electrical and electronics sector in Malaysia will grow by almost ten per cent annually. The Star reports: “[AmBank Research] said Malaysia’s E&E sector has successfully positioned itself in the global supply chain of electronic manufacturing services, outsourced semiconductor assembly and testing as well as in research, design and development.”

Indeed, E&E manufacturing in the country has matured alongside industry-wide endeavours to keep pace with developments surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation. The growing demand for wearable devices and smart home applications, alongside the strong automotive industry, is resulting in a heightened need for both production and quality control experts.

Now more so than ever, manufacturing and operations candidates with multilingual fluency are highly regarded amongst employers across the industry. This is especially so for international or foreign companies which have plants within Malaysia, where the majority of the ground staff (especially within the factories) are effectively monolingual in their mother tongues such as Malay or Mandarin. Production and plant managers who are fluent in English, Malay and Mandarin make for the ideal candidates in mid-level or management roles.

Manufacturing and Operations Employers in Malaysia
Employers in Malaysia’s manufacturing and operations industry generally have strong talent retention strategies in place, including promoting staff from within the organisation, structured training and development, financial support in external training to obtain industry recognised certifications, and generous annual salary increments.

However, with stiff competition for top talent within this industry, employers are urged to invest in their talent attraction methods and ramp up efforts when it comes to employer branding. While companies have been participating in recruitment/ career fairs, most have been finding it an uphill task to secure specialised talent, who are usually part of a passive candidate pool.


Manufacturing and Operations Candidates in Malaysia
While the job market favours candidates within the manufacturing and operations industry, job seekers looking to advance in their careers should by no means remain complacent.

Candidates who are on the lookout for a new role in this industry could benefit from raising their profiles on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and increase their chances of being discovered by prospective employers by submitting their CVs to recruitment agencies. Because not many candidates in this area are casting their nets wide beyond responding to job advertisements, they are missing out on what could possibly be great opportunities.