In 2023, sentiments among Malaysia’s engineering and manufacturing sector stood in stark contrast to the year before. According to Shanggar Marimutu, Manager at Robert Walters Malaysia, fears of a looming recession prompted companies to hold back or pause their hiring activities as they waited to see how market conditions would unfold.
The rise in costs of living over the last year has pushed have spurred candidates to prioritise monetary benefits. “Companies have become more aggressive in their attempts to retain employees. We saw that there’s been a higher acceptance of counteroffers and thus, more candidates staying put in their jobs,” comments Shanggar.
Read on to find out more about Shanggar’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Malaysia’s Engineering & Manufacturing professionals in 2024.
Many large companies have been promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) more seriously, with a growing demand for female candidates with engineering and technical operations expertise to fill senior-level points. This is a trend that is set to continue in 2024.
“Another rising trend that has emerged is that candidates now heavily prioritise achieving a healthy work-life balance,” Shanggar discloses. “Most employees are now looking out for companies that can offer flexible work arrangements.”
Several sectors are expected to take precedence and drive hiring demand in 2024.
First, Shanggar anticipates a surge in hiring for engineering and technical professionals in the Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and lithium-ion batteries fields, adding that these technologies have been popularised due to skyrocketing demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
“With 41 enterprise data centres within our borders, Malaysia is establishing itself as a regional hub for the industry. There’s also been an influx of investments aimed at bringing capacities to up to 800 megawatts over the next few years. Projections put the compounded annual growth rate at 7%, reaching up to RM7.02 billion by 2027,” Shanggar explains. “Demand will be huge for talent during both construction and operational phases.”
Lastly, it is believed that more jobs will also be created within the renewable energy industry, thanks to the National Energy Transition Roadmap launched by the Ministry of Economy, which is set to unlock up to RM1.85 trillion in investment opportunities by 2050.
The increased focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion has made it a top priority for large companies. This shift has led to a high demand for senior-level female engineering and technical operations talents across various industries.
Whatever the industry, Shanggar says that talent with project management, automation and IoT, sustainability and operational excellence and continuous improvement skillsets will be highly sought after. With more businesses shifting regional operations to Malaysia, he also highlights that strong stakeholder management skills are an extremely valuable, as candidates will now have to interact more with global teams.
The most sought after roles in 2024 are expected to be project managers and engineers, managerial positions in sustainability, ESG and climate change, and engineering positions pertaining to automation, IoT and Industry 4.0.
Candidates today are more mindful and clear about what they want out of their careers. “They expect more open and honest lines of communication, supportive hiring managers, clear career progression opportunities, and the option of flexible or hybrid work arrangements,” Shanggar states.
To retain talent in the year ahead, Shanggar recommends that companies look into recalibrating and readjusting pay scales across the organisation. It is now crucial to close the gap and addressing any salary disparities among differently senior levels because competing companies are willing to offer highly competitive pay increments to lure new talent.
“When it comes to attracting talent, organisations will benefit from exercising more flexibility,” he adds. “Take a more agile approach and be open to hiring based on potential. Some candidates can be nurtured into the role if their interests and personality indicate the right fit, even if they do not match all of the skillsets on the job description to a tee.”
In 2024, salaries are expected to go up by 25% or more. Some companies are expected to offer over 30% increments as they vie for top talent who can fill niche positions.
Request access to our 2024 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about key hiring trends in the Engineering & Manufacturing industry in Malaysia.
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Shanggar Ganesh Marimutu
Engineering & Manufacturing, Malaysia
Shanggar has been a recruitment specialist for over seven years. He specialises in recruiting engineering, supply chain and technical operations roles.
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