Malaysia to see conservative approach to recruitment in 2021

2020 has seen a slow and conservative hiring market in Malaysia, from an employment perspective. This trend is expected to continue to at least into the first half of 2021 as businesses adapt to the repercussions of COVID-19 including the latest movement restrictions with the movement control order (MCO).

According to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2021, about half (50%) of its clients plan to implement a headcount/hiring freeze in 2021 as part of their response to COVID-19.

However, it’s not all bad news as a large percentage of employers surveyed are also planning to train/upskill their staff (53%) and increase their investment in technology, apps and tools (42%) this year, indicating a continued emphasis on employee and workplace process development.

To delve slightly deeper, the job markets are expected to generally remain conservative for the months to come for the following sectors; accounting and finance, banking and financial services, engineering, human resources, legal and supply.

But a few bright spots in high-demand sectors including essential services, technology, pharmaceutical/healthcare, insurance, risk and compliance as well as renewable energy.

Conversely, the survey found that sales and marketing positions are expected to see some recovery, especially in jobs pertaining to e-commerce, digital marketing and overall sales as companies look to consolidate and strengthen their income streams in light of the new normal brought on by COVID-19.

As for job market for roles in technology and transformation, it is set to continue to grow further as companies pay more attention to laying the foundations for their digital operations (e-commerce, remote working, big data, AI solutions) and protecting that framework (cybersecurity, training) in order to ensure business continuity in anticipation of current and anticipated socio-economic challenges.

The Robert Walters Salary Survey 2021 was drawn from the global specialist professional recruitment firm’s analysis of job placements and insights from their experienced pool of consultants across 31 key global markets.

Robert Walters’ digital salary survey

The survey was also juxtaposed with candidate and client surveys from each market, with Malaysia contributing the perspectives of approximately 650 candidates (employees) across varying levels and industries as well as about 180 of Robert Walters’ clients (employers).

Meanwhile, the overall conservative approach to recruitment in 2021 means that the hiring proposals that are available will be strictly scrutinised and many organisations may also opt to recruit internally for available roles in an effort to manage costs.

On the ever-important topic of remuneration, job-movers can expect a lower than usual salary increment of 12-15% or even down to a direct match of their last drawn pay as companies attempt to manage cash-flow and employee headcount.

The survey also found that for currently employed candidates, it remains likely that wages remain stagnant across this cycle or with very moderate pay increases, with the exception of top performers who may still be able to draw good increments, bonuses and even promotions.

“The 2021 market will continue to be challenging for clients as well as candidates, whether they are existing job holders or job-seekers alike,” commented Robert Walters’ country head (Malaysia and the Philippines) Kimberlyn Lu. – Jan 27, 2021

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