Penang salaries increasingly competitive

penang bridge

Differences in salaries between Malaysia’s central and northern regions are slowly diminishing, as employers offer increasingly competitive packages to win the talent war.

The business environment in Penang is set to thrive as companies that established operations in the region continue to grow. In addition, the ease of conducting business and business-friendly government-driven initiatives are set to increase recruitment levels for the foreseeable future.

Engineering & Manufacturing 

Within the engineering & manufacturing sector, hiring is set to be mainly for new and replacement roles. Consolidation programmes in several large manufacturing corporations have resulted in lay-offs, bringing an influx of jobseekers in the northern region.

However, the entrance of new businesses in the market will drive stable hiring activity this year. We expect hiring managers to favour candidates with strong technical competency, as well as communications and presentation skills.

More companies will be hiring technical professionals with the skills and experience to help with the automation of manufacturing processes. Engineers with experience in embedded software and mechanical design will continue to be in demand.

With a limited talent pool, many companies may face a challenge to find top talent and will have to look for candidates from other states, or among those returning from overseas.

The disparity in salaries between the central and northern regions is slowly diminishing. Premium remuneration packages will be key in attracting candidates, while career progression and employee engagement can help in both recruiting and retaining talent. Salary increments between 15-20% are expected this year.

Accounting & Finance/ Human Resources/ Sales & Marketing 

Hiring for commercial roles is mainly set to be for replacement positions and executive-level roles, reflecting the fact that Penang typically functions as a branch office location for companies headquartered in Kuala Lumpur.

As employees in Penang usually report to managers based in the central region, self-starters with strong commercial experience will continue to be in demand. There is also a call for customer service professionals who are proficient in specific languages, but these will be hard to find in a limited talent pool.

Hiring managers can consider adjusting allowance and commission schemes to attract talent. Professionals are expected to receive raises of between 15-20% within this sector.

Please contact Kimberlyn Lu, Country Manager at or visit our website for more details.


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