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Hiring in Engineering and Manufacturing: Economic recovery to drive strong hiring activity in engineering and manufacturing

With the economy returning in full swing, most companies resumed operations and ramped up hiring practices in 2022.

“Staff turnovers increased, as employees became more open to changing jobs after years spent holding onto their roles due to the uncertainty,” says Shanggar Ganesh Marimutu, Manager of Engineering & Manufacturing, Robert Walters Malaysia.

Read on as Shanggar shares his expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for engineering and manufacturing professionals in 2023.

Sustainability, automation, and project management roles in high demand

Malaysia’s manufacturing industry is currently at an interesting juncture, says Shanggar. “Companies are seeing transitions in senior leadership, driven by succession planning initiatives and senior talent moving onto new challenges.”

With the focus on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), many companies will be prioritising the expansion of sustainability divisions to improve ESG practices. “We can expect a huge rise in hiring of sustainability talent, as what was initially important to publicly-listed companies have now become pivotal to all organisations across various sectors,” he shares.

In line with current market demands, more hiring can also be expected in mature industries such as oleochemical, edible oil, and petrochemicals, as well as in biodiesel and biofuel-related companies.

Automation Engineers will be in high demand as manufacturing companies adopt greater reliance on technology and reduce manpower dependence. “As we are facing a shortage of young automation engineers, it is highly recommended for graduate engineers to focus their careers there,” says Shanggar.

With the rise in greenfield plant set-ups and major plant expansions, particularly in newer manufacturing hubs such as Enstek and Johor, Project Engineers and Project Managers will be highly sought after in 2023.

Emphasis on career development, job flexibility in talent management

Potential political changes, inflation and other economic factors could have some impact on Malaysia’s employment landscape in 2023. Taking all these into consideration, companies should look into calibrated salary adjustment practices for better staff retention.

Amidst political changes, inflation and economic factors, companies should look into calibrated salary adjustment practices for better staff retention.

Companies will also need to help their employees set clear expectations and career development plans, adds Shanggar.

“With access to many external opportunities from newer industries, such as e-commerce and digital, companies will need to become more competitive by providing reasonable salary adjustments proactively,” he shares. When it comes to recruiting talent, he recommends that companies ensure they offer job flexibility and access to hybrid working arrangements, as these have become extremely important to candidates.

In a competitive market, companies will be vying for skilled candidates who are now more particular about the jobs they apply for. “This includes focus on the working style of hiring managers, overall company culture, work-life balance, and competitiveness of remuneration packages,” says Shanggar.

Salaries to grow in 2023

For companies hoping to be aligned with current market expectations, internal salary adjustments in 2023 will need to surpass the standard 3-5% increases.

“Internal and external salary benchmarking exercises have to be done for companies to remain competitive,” explains Shanggar.

Salary increments for job movers can be expected to exceed the standard 10-15%, as companies are now more willing to offer rises of up to 30% for top talent.

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