The storm of a recession can take its toll on any country. What can begin with the decline of a single industry, can soon create a ‘knock-on’ effect for other industries and leave a country’s economy with years of recovery predicted for its future.

December 7, 2015

The storm of a recession can take its toll on any country. What can begin with the decline of a single industry, can soon create a ‘knock-on’ effect for other industries and leave a country’s economy with years of recovery predicted for its future.

For Malaysia, its economy (along with many others) was not immune from the 2008 global recession. However, the country’s economic ability to still rise by four ranks on the GCI Global Competitiveness Index 2014/2015 to a top twenty slot is not only admirable, but illustrates how serious Malaysia is to grow its GDP via investing in industries such as technology. In spite of major lay-offs across the airline and oil and gas industries, plus a bleak outlook on the global oil prices, the tenacious growth of the tech market compensated and thwarted a further downturn.  

The increasing number of foreign businesses relocating to Malaysia demonstrates their confidence in the market, as more than 1.8 million new jobs have been created since 2010 . And a further 1.5 million jobs are projected to be created under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2015 – 2020’s deadline. 

Equally, the strength of Malaysia’s economy is demonstrated by its unemployment rate, which stands at 3.2%. In comparison to other countries in the region, the rate is relatively low and gives companies the confidence to continue to hire permanent staff instead of contractors. The growth of the technology sector has seen an increase of demand for support services. In 2014, Malaysia was listed as the third most preferred destination in A.T.Kearney’s ‘Global Services Location Index’ (GSLI) for providing outsourcing activities, via shared services to support the growth of different markets including technology. 

What role does recruitment play?

The recruitment industry definitely has a role to play to help fulfil Malaysia’s growth plan. Partnering with companies is crucial, as Malaysia’s aggressive growth plans can be hindered by a scarce candidate pool. Recruitment companies are best placed to reach a wider audience to not only promote their client and roles, but the actual country itself. Relocating or returning to a home country requires a personal touch that should be offered by skilled consultants to guide their candidates through the interview and post job acceptance processes. 

For clients, consultants should not only be seen as ambassadors for their companies, but for Malaysia also. Well-versed in the roles that they’re recruiting for and the companies that they recruit on the behalf, consultants should make it their business to fully understand the pros (and cons) of living in Malaysia. Providing insight on accommodation, cultural adoption, legal and tax requirements, and payroll will help to make the relocation process smoother. And such, insight is vital to attract highly-sourced individuals who are very much in demand to work in more well-known tech locations.

Talent shortage

Of course, prior to placement, the right talent has to be sourced and for companies new to a country this can be challenging. As with all global technology hubs, Malaysia is also finding it difficult to source skilled individuals with the right balance of technical skills and business acumen. Disruptive and new technologies such as ‘big data’ are in demand, which leaves Malaysia with limited access to the right talent pools. 

Finding the right candidates goes beyond relying on active candidates. Research methods such as in-depth market mapping help to identify Malaysian talent locally and access their availability. By doing so, clients can make a better judgement on talent that is readily available to them to decide on whether they need to broaden their search and what salaries/benefits they need to offer to entice highly-skilled professionals to relocate.  

Overall, the recruitment industry is critical in helping companies to expand into new locations and markets. It is the industry’s duty to understand the needs of the market to help clients map their recruitment path (present and future) so that they hire the right talent as the market matures. Failing to do so can result in companies missing out on candidates or even worse, their growth is interrupted if their staffing isn't agile enough to react to market changes.  

Candidates also need support. To relocate a family can be a daunting task, but consultants can be of extra support by offering invaluable advice on the country, visa requirements, accommodation and schools etc., so families do not feel they’re alone in starting a new life in a new location.  

Over the next five years, the opportunities in Malaysia will be huge. To be ready, recruitment companies must see themselves as more than simply moving people from point A to B. The industry must be in a position to consult and guide both clients and candidates. By doing so, all parties will have the best chance of being successful and help the Malaysian government to achieve its Eleventh Malaysia Plan.  

1. 'World Economic Forum’,, (accessed 26th November 2015)

2. 'Five reasons Malaysia is a top talent destination’ retrieved from (published 11 November 2015)

3. ‘1.5 million jobs to be created under 11MP, says Najib’ retrieved from (published on 21 May 2015)]