PETALING JAYA: A government labour agency has raised a red flag over what it describes as a growing problem for employers in finding skilled workers to fill positions in the manufacturing and services sector which contributes the most to the country’s gross domestic product.
According to the critical occupation list compiled by the Institute for Labour Market Information and Analysis (Ilmia), over the past four years employers have found it increasingly difficult to fill positions in 23 occupations.
These include information communications and technology managers, mathematicians, actuaries and statisticians, machinery and equipment and advanced engineering professionals, and policy and planning managers.
Ilmia also listed business services managers, research and development managers, and engineers in fields such as mechanical, electrical and electronic.
Software developers, auditors, financial analysts and computer network professionals were also labelled as short in supply.
The report titled “Critical Occupational List: Signalling Jobs That Are in Demand”, made available to FMT, proposed hiring foreigners to fill such positions until local talents are found.
It also advised the authorities to focus on creating such talents to prevent a negative impact on Malaysia’s growth prospects.
Its suggestions included bridging shortages by strengthening curricula and providing training for specific skill sets, as well as allowing foreigners to fill the gaps on a temporary basis.
The report also listed “hard-to-fill” jobs that remain vacant for three months or more despite ongoing recruitment efforts.
These include the positions of chief executives, directors, partners and owners, and clerical support workers.
It advised Putrajaya to train more workers in the machinery and equipment and advanced engineering industry, citing the country’s efforts to progress towards the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
It said Malaysia has a relatively young workforce for these two sectors, with 42.6% of full-time employees between 25 and 34 years of age.
Top reasons for hiring difficulties include a lack of technical skills among applicants, lack of competency and a small supply pool of talent.
For entry-level workers, the report said, employers have trouble finding staff with problem-solving and critical thinking skills who can work independently and communicate well.
“Given that these are the skill gaps of entry-level employees, the need for human capital development initiatives becomes more relevant,” it said.
It suggested offering higher salaries in order to retain the current workforce as well as providing better benefits and incentives for employees and training current employees to fill the gaps.