Malaysia is the fourth-largest economy in Southeast Asia as per IMF 2020 and has a high density of knowledge-based industries. A Southeast Asian country that comprises two freestanding regions- Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia and Malaysia Timur or East Malaysia, separated by 400 miles of South China Sea, Malaysia has a thriving international trade ecosystem.
Post pandemic, Malaysia's labor market improved moderately in Q4 of 2020, and the country's unemployment rate is expected to fall between 4.2% to 4.3% in 2021 compared to the extraordinary high of 4.7% witnessed in 2020. As per the Malaysian Labor Report, the employment outlook has been positive since March 2021. However, there is a gap between opportunities and qualifications.
Overview of Malaysia
Population: 32.75 million
GDP: 338.28 billion USD (FY 2020)
Malaysia's GDP contracted 5.6% in the year 2020 as compared to 4.3% in 2019. Pandemic impacted most economic sectors in 2020. However, things started looking positive in the last quarter, especially in the manufacturing sector. Another sector that remained buoyant was the technology sector. Malaysia's central bank expects the economy to return to pre-covid levels by mid-2021 and predicts the GDP to expand to 6.5 to 7%.
Malaysia is a middle-income country in Southeast Asia with a robust economy propelled by modern manufacturing and technology-driven industries. The positive outlook towards the economy and revival of most sectors in the post-pandemic period is a good sign for the employable population of the country. Though Malaysia has a literacy rate of 95%, the current concern for most companies is attracting the right skill sets and experience. Michael Page's talent trends report 2021 states that contractors and temporary staff will be in high demand soon.
Malaysia's government is keen to introduce 5G by the end of 2021, but Malaysia ranks 3rd for fixed broadband download speed in Southeast Asia even without that. On average, the mean internet speed in Malaysia was between 35.87-91.83 Mbps.
Brief Information About Industries
- Malaysia has a strong manufacturing sector that attracts a sizable amount of foreign investment. Approved foreign investment in the first quarter of 2021 was around 52.246 (RM Million).
- The service sector attracts substantial domestic investments, with the first quarter seeing an investment of around 14983 (RM Million).
- The top 5 sectors with major hiring activities in 20-21 include Technology and Fintech, Global business services, FMCG, Healthcare and Life sciences, Engineering, and Manufacturing.
- Some of the other thriving industries in Malaysia include automotive manufacturing, defense, communication technology, and construction.
- Industries like electronics, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, smelting, logging, petroleum production, and petroleum refining are other significant contributors to the Malaysian economy.
- Companies in Malaysia are planning to invest in talent capabilities in the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, robotics, and more.
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Cost of Living
Compared to the West or even other Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia offers a brilliant combination of a low cost of living and higher quality of life. Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the hub of activity in Malaysia. While other living expenses are similar across Malaysia, the rents are higher in Kuala Lumpur. Another cost that can add up for ex-pats and students is the currency conversion.
The average cost may also vary, depending on the composition of your family. If you are single or a university student, the costs may be different than a family of four. The average cost of living in Malaysia is between $500 to $1500 per month. The below table highlights the cost of living for a family in major cities of Malaysia.
Top Sectors Expected to Hire in Malaysia in 2021
The overall hiring outlook is positive in Malaysia, with 33% of companies looking to increase their headcount. 66% of employees plan to look for new job opportunities in 2021.
Top sectors with highest hiring activities
- Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)
- Engineering & Manufacturing
- Global Business Services/Shared Service Centers
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Technology & Fintech
Top jobs or skills in demand in Malaysia
- Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)
- Transformation Experts
- Digital Marketer
- Product Manager
- C-suite roles
Top Skills in Malaysia
The key to the continuing growth story of Malaysia is focused on companies adopting and transitioning to a more digital environment. Digital upskilling and agility in adopting digital transformations are the top skills in demand across Malaysia's sectors.
- Leaders with a digital transformation outlook will be most sought after in the post-pandemic job landscape.
- Sectors like insurance and legal have dramatically altered the way they function. Remote trials, case management, and remote legal counsels mean a digitally skilled workforce in the insurance and legal sectors.
- The sales industry that was severely impacted by the pandemic too has shifted focus towards e-commerce and online operations. The industry would need exponential numbers of software developers, cloud computing, customized software and database managers, app developers, and more.
- Project managers, site managers, business managers in the healthcare sector will be required to support the increasing number of clinical trials in pharma companies.
- Marketing professionals with a good grasp of soft skills, digital marketing, and traditional marketing will be in demand.
- User experience will be at the center of business planning. Businesses will be keen on hiring CXO and pure UI and UX professionals to have greater ownership of the product/process life cycle.
Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur is the hub of technology, medicine, marketing, and the Fintech industry. Some of the in-demand skills in Kuala Lumpur include digital content, software and technology, finance and insurance, digital marketing, e-commerce, business development and sales, healthcare and medical support, customer service, cybersecurity, and supply chain.
Penang – Penang is known for its shared services, manufacturing, and education businesses. The in-demand skills in Penang revolve around administration, HR, quality assurance, consulting, and medical services.
Johor Bahru – Manufacturing is a dominant sector in this region, and the skills essential in manufacturing plants and logistics are in great demand in this area. Engineering, quality assurance, logistics, sales and manufacturing heads, Audit heads are some roles that are regularly sought after.
Petaling Jaya – Located close to Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya is home to more than 25 colleges and universities. The area is dotted with malls and luxury homes, making the education and service sector dominant work opportunity areas.
If you are an employer from a country other than Malaysia, then it is important that you set up a legal entity in Malaysia before hiring local talent. Another essential cost that needs to be considered is legal assistance. To remain compliant with local laws, you must hire a legal expert in Malaysia.
Hiring costs to be considered in Malaysia
- Company registration costs
- Legal assistance costs
- Expenses involved in screening, interviewing, and onboarding new employees
- Travel expenses to interview candidates
- Advertising expenses for job posting
- Background checks
Salary Structure for Various Roles
The median salary range for Malaysian employees is from MYR 1758.00 to MYR 6226.00. Performance-related bonuses form an essential component of Malaysian salaries. As per the recent survey by Michael Page, 72% of respondents said remunerations and benefits are important considerations while accepting a job offer.
The table below reflects the average gross monthly salary by sectors (in MYR):
Employment Laws in Malaysia
The Employment Act, 1955 regulates labor matters. This law focuses mainly on the minimum wage and the rules around leaves and work-timing for employees earning less than RM 2000.00 or employees employed in manual labor like artisans, transport operators, manual workers, supervisors, domestic workers, and similar workers.
- Regular working hours are 8 hours per day for 5 days a week.
- The minimum wage to be paid by the employer is RM 5.77 per hour.
- While performance-linked bonuses are typical in Malaysia, they need to be mentioned explicitly in the employee contract.
- Employers are responsible for deducting income tax from the monthly salary under the Monthly Tax Deduction (MTD) scheme.
Overall the employment in Malaysia are governed by the following laws:
- Employment Act, 1955
- Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1966
- Employment (Restriction) Act, 1968
- Factories and Machinery Act, 1967
- Occupational Safety and Health Act, 1994
- Minimum Wages Order, 2018
- Minimum Retirement Age Act, 2012
How Can Skuad Help You in Hiring in Malaysia?
Hiring in Malaysia is a multi-faceted task requiring in-depth knowledge of the laws, trends, hiring costs, living costs city-wise, and more. Skuad comes onboard as a one-stop solution handling every minute aspect of recruitment. It gives you the freedom and time to focus on your project and expansion plans without any hiring stresses. Connect with Skuad Experts to know more.