Malaysia human resource and brain drain issues are now more and more severe

Malaysia’s brain drain taking a toll on SMEs by Jonathan Wong,  October 25, 2012, Thursday

TALENT RETENTION ISSUE: Chook states that the brain drain issue is of serious concern and with collective effort can be resolved. KUCHING: With an ever-tight talent market, the issue of talent retention needs to be dealt with, as it is no longer a choice. Chook Yuh Yng, country manager of (JobStreet) stated that the talent crunch being faced by the local small medium enterprises (SME) was not only limited to Malaysia but throughout the world.

“Malaysian talents are no doubt good as many are being lured to go overseas but I feel that we still have the talent pool and it is of paramount importance that we educate and brand the opportunities here in Malaysia,” she stressed. Chook opined that the issues were not the educational system and that universities now had shifted the focus to a more practical curriculum as well as increased the emphasis on soft skills such as management.

Government initiatives such as graduate employability programmes fine tuned the skills that the graduates had and with internship programmes praticed by numerous companies there was quality talent still available. Shahizah Shaharuddin, senior vice president of Skali group stated that to address the issue, the other companies should try to attract talent by offering programmes to graduates to enhance their skills further.

She explained that, “In Skali, we actually have a programme for university grads to undergo a six month programme held twice a year. We select 100 grads for the programme each time and these graduates then go for on the job training where they are taught to apply what they have learnt. “After the six months we either absorb them into the company or release them into the work market. However even after being released, we do keep track of them and to determine whether they have managed to secure jobs and also if they are being renumerated at par with their peers,”Shahizah explained.

Closer to home, Ng Kam Loong, human resource (HR) director of X-Fab Sarawak Sdn Bhd (X-Fab), stated that X-Fab does something similar in Sarawak. “We have something similar but our model is slightly different. We hire fresh graduates for our JTS (journey to semiconductors) programme where we actually hire them as full fledged engineers with full pay,” said Ng.

“We impart soft skill training for them and mould them to the environment. So in a nutshell, we give them on the job training and even let them listen in to telephone conversations with our customers (without participating) so they are able to understand the other aspects of the job.” “We understand that these talents are of extreme importance for the company and that the talent development programme is crucial for the company’s successor scheme. We go all out to hunt for talent as the Gen-Y career talks are now no longer effective enough to entice young talent,” he said.

All three agreed that at the moment there should be more efforts to promote local businesses and try to retain as much of the young local talents as possible. Ng opined that the issue now was how to get them back into the local scene and update them that the opportunities were also available in their own backyard. According to JobStreet’s survey, among the top reasons for the brain drain was the large gap between expected and offered salaries.

Chook stated that this issue needed to be addressed and that graduates needed to educate themselves on what was the average salary for their line and not to expect too much from potential employers. Ng added that, “We tend to lose talents not locally to places like KL but to countries like Singapore due to the exchange rates. Getting paid RM4,000 and S$4,000 with the current exchange rate is staggering after conversion.”

The JobStreet country manager explained that the issue was beyond SMEs, “I think that most of the problems being faced by companies are universal. There is a need for talent out there. So from how you recruit, how you retain, succession management and performance management are all important but for SMEs, there are further challenges due to budget constraints.” Ng noted that state governments should also help with talent acquisition by organising talent fairs, as some SMEs do not have the financial capabilities to host it themselves.

Chook mentioned, “With the hundred over thousand graduates that are being churned out every year, we should be able to retain them if the private sector and government work together.“We are looking very seriously into the brain drain issue, into retaining our young talents and recalling oversea talents to come back. With collective effort, I think it could be resolved as it is now no longer a choice.”

Source: Borneo Post
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