HR practitioners comment on the recruitment landscape in Malaysia

Although unemployment in Malaysia has been capped at a low of 3.4% as of May 2017, recruitment has been a challenging task in building up a pool of high-skilled talent.

We spoke to four HR practitioners who shared their perspectives on trends and their implications on talent acquisition in the nation, in the backdrop of the upcoming Recruitment Asia 2017, Malaysia conference.

1: Robert St-jacques, global human resources director, iflix

With over 20 years of multinational experience, St-jacques sees the recruitment function becoming dynamic and holistic. Effective onboarding and T&D have to be accounted for in niche positions such as tech, since “talent in Malaysia, is mostly clustered at the lower end of the experience range.”

Secondly, he observes that only a handful of talent is functioning with a fast paced, hyper-innovative and entrepreneurial mindset. At this point in its labour market evolution, Malaysia has yet to see large numbers of employees and candidates with this form of experience, compared to other economies.

Lastly, on the issue of attracting the best global talent to Malaysia, he points out that Kuala Lumpur is not on most expats’ radar as a place to live and work – yet! This makes it harder for HR professionals to recruit foreign talent, without a massive amount of education and location marketing, especially in a time crunch.

Key takeaway – “Using an evidence-based approach, effective solutions become obvious. It will help you bridge the gap between what science knows and what business does.”


2: Chen Fong Tuan, head, people, Mah Sing Group

Chen cut to the chase and identifies the lack of right calibre talent with the requisite leadership capabilities as the first impact of the changing environment. This is followed by the need to retain top talent amidst increasing and fierce cross-industry competition.

Thirdly, he points out the importance of succession planning in ensuring a robust bench strength to mitigate flight and transition risks. A good cultural fit is also a key deciding factor that affects business procedures.

Key takeaway –Talent acquisition specialists can fully utilise the tools at their disposal to enhance candidate data mining, deploy recruitment gamification, better predict candidate outcomes, assess candidates in real-world scenarios, and enhance candidate experience.”


3: Jo-Ann Low, head of recruitment, Maxis

In Low’s view, challenges related to human interaction will arise especially in the service industry and jobs would be lost unless stakeholders are prepared for it.

Additionally, upgrading talent for business adapting is critical to align employees to business goals. This broadens the transactional relationship, allowing both parties recruitment enablers.

Thirdly, she is a strong supporter for the cultivation of an open mindset in education. She believes the younger generation in Malaysia is not ready for niche positions such as software development and big data analytics, which risks businesses becoming obsolete.

Key takeaway – “Gear up for end-to-end AI preparation by understanding the environment and how technology can help to streamline work to achieve future ability for machine learning.”


4: Clayton Tan, human resources director, Vinda Group

Tan sums up his take on the current state of recruitment: “Lack of proactive recruitment strategies, talent scarcity, and shortage of skilled technical workers.”

He goes on to elaborate that talent mapping and networking can bridge the gap between the candidate and the employer. Hence this could reduce the over reliance on conventional candidates filtering or interviews which may not be accurate.

He also highlights that good talent is hard to come by especially with the slow economy. This is undoubtedly linked to the third impact of a saturation of mediocre graduate talent. He sheds light on the need for companies to collaborate closely with universities as well as technical / vocational schools.

Key takeaway – “Recruiters are no longer ‘gatekeepers’. Rather, talent acquisition roles are akin to “gem miners” who actively map talent and follow industry movements. In the midst of this, employer branding has enabled quick wins for the organisation.”


These four HR experts will present detailed case studies on their talent acquisition prowess at Recruitment Asia 2017. Join us this 31 Oct-1 Nov at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral. They will be joined by speakers from Nokia, General Electric, Unilever, T-Systems, and more. Register right away!

Want to learn the latest talent acquisition techniques?
Don’t miss Recruitment Asia, the region’s dedicated recruitment and talent acquisition strategy conference.
Happening Oct/Nov 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Philippines.

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