Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Skilled Workers and Malaysia

The star today:

Cross-border hunt on for best workers

THE country has to start taking steps to counter the effects of a talent crunch or risk losing more of its skilled workforce to competitors overseas, recruitment experts say.

JobStreet.com vice-president (marketing) Simon Si said globalisation and the challenges of competing in today's knowledge-based economy had, in recent years, created a rush to recruit the best talent.

“A common practice is if you cannot find the talent in your own backyard, you need to scout in someone else's.

“Cross-border hiring has been made much easier due to the Internet. So it is not surprising that Malaysia faces a talent drain,” he said.

Si noted that many employers had indicated that they had difficulties recruiting relevant skilled staff.

He stressed that companies should look for ways to brand themselves as an employer of choice in their business category to attract top talents and retain their best staff.

“Companies should also be prepared to train as well as provide the right challenges and rewards to motivate their staff. Otherwise, the war for talents will escalate even more and companies will find themselves fending of not just local competitors but also those from overseas,” he said.

Manpower Staffing Services (M) Sdn Bhd operations manager Mark Hall said governments and employers around the world were taking steps to counter the effects of talent shortages by improving educational and vocational training, adopting strategic migration policies, bringing the economically inactive into the labour force, and encouraging skilled and experienced older individuals to remain in employment.

“I can say with complete confidence that there is a global talent crunch in many areas of the global workforce today that will both grow more acute and more widespread across more disciplines over the next 10 years,” he added.

He said demographic shifts, including aging populations, declining birth rates, economic migration, social evolution, inadequate educational programmes and globalisation, were causing shortages not only in the overall availability of talent but also – and more significantly – in the specific skills and competencies required in industrialised, emerging and developing economies.

Jen International Executive Search regional search director Peter Tang attributed the brain drain to a lack of opportunities in Malaysia or more attractive compensation packages offered in other countries.

“We have lost talented individuals to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US,” he said, adding that it was more widespread in developing nations.

He pointed out that there was a shortage of engineers and information technology (IT) professionals especially in Cyberjaya, clinical researchers, research and development engineers, and bio-technologists.

“Recently, we have just placed a number of candidates overseas to Singapore, China and the Middle East in the areas of IT, engineering, pharmaceutical and clinical research,” he said.

JobStreet's Si sees a brain drain in the financial and medical sectors

“The tourism and hospitality industry seems to be feeling the pinch as well with some of their best workers moving to work in the Middle East, Singapore and Europe in search of better wages,” he said.

Nevertheless, Si believes there should be little reason why Malaysians working overseas would not come back to the country if there were the right incentives and an overall climate where their skills are appreciated, they are rewarded accordingly, their social-economic needs are met, and they are able to develop themselves professionally and within their community.

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