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Malaysia – Foreign workers fill skills gaps

26 July 2013

A growing number of foreign workers are being brought into Malaysia in order to fill skills gaps, according to recruitment company Agensi Pekerjaan Jobsworld. Shortages are most acute in the engineering, oil & gas, and IT sectors.

There has been an increase of foreign workers particularly from the Philippines and Indonesia, with most signing one-year contracts. Clients in Malaysia are also hoping that by recruiting foreign workers they will be able to bring in their local knowledge and expertise to Malaysia.

Jasmin Kaur, director of Agensi Pekerjaan said in an interview to Sunbiz: “Employers understand that certain skill-sets are limited [in Malaysia]. Looking at the economic crisis in the world, a lot of expatriates are flexible in coming to Asia to have that work experience, and this, to an extent, poses a threat to locals.”

At the same time, Malaysia is currently undergoing an exodus of national talent, with workers moving to Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. The Malaysia government has recently undertaken a recruitment drive in Taiwan to encourage Malaysian students to return home after graduation.

Ms Kaur commented: “People go out of the country because of the opportunity of working abroad… it’s a different experience. And one of the advantages that Malaysians have is the ability to speak multiple languages, and they’re being hunted by foreign companies. More and more foreign expatriates are coming to Asia, and Asia is the place to be today. A lot of things are happening in Asia in terms of business expansion, investments, and this includes Malaysia.”

Unemployment levels in Malaysia fell in April to 3.1%; however the government is currently working toward achieving a high-income economy by doubling its number of skilled workers by 2020.  

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