At the start of the pandemic, industries and companies were forced to lay off their employees to stay afloat. Many were left retrenched, the unemployment rate in Malaysia was sky-high in May 2020 at 5.30%.
As government restrictions eased, many sectors reopened and job opportunities began to sprout. This led to an improvement in unemployment rates with a decline to 4.3% in November 2021.
Amid this, some industries are faced with labour shortages to fill in the positions. The Talent Corp Critical Occupation List (COL) indicates that 42 occupations are facing labour shortages. The COL defines critical jobs as occupations that are skilled, sought-after and strategic.
At the same time, the pandemic has also brought along a blessing in disguise and generated faster progress and new vacancies especially in IT and digital marketing. According to Jobstreet Malaysia, the two are part of 2022’s most high in-demand workforce.
The In-Demand IT Professionals And Software Developers
Based on Talent Corp’s Critical Occupation list, the in-demand career opportunities when it comes to IT and software development includes software developers, web and multimedia developers and application programmers. The pandemic had only accelerated the surge in job vacancies involving this industry. In a survey conducted in 2020, only 46% of companies are well on their way to digital transformation with more firms taking steps to do so.
As the industry grows in 2022, hiring the right talent would be a challenge.
There is a rising demand in the IT industry for highly skilled talent who specialise in cloud, security, and other emerging technologies. Medium and large-sized organisations are also looking to hire software developers, data engineers and data scientists to leverage big data to make better informed decisions on the strategy level. – Randstad 2022 Malaysia’s Job Market Outlook And Salary Snapshot Report
Vacancies in this sector increased from around 19,000 in June 2020 to more than 56,000 as of April 2021. Other high-in demand industries looking for employees include finance and pharmaceutical .
In addition to the heightened competition to recruit, potential employers have cited that applicants either lack the relevant experiences, the niche skill sets required by the organisation such as background knowledge on the sector they will be a part of.
Jobs like an application developer, blockchain developer, and mobile application developer are high in demand today, but the applicants do not have the required skillset or relevant job experience particularly for financial services. – TalentCorp’s Critical Occupation List report 
Due to this and the catch of five to ten years of experience for senior-level applications, companies attempt to fill in the position through training current in-house staff or hiring professional expatriates in the field.
With the market saturated with fresh graduates looking to find their first full-time job, it is beneficial to close the experience gap by taking up freelance jobs via platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer.com or Fiverr.
Even for those who have secured their jobs as a junior-level talent, technology is fast-moving, it is perhaps time to add in-demand skills such as various programming languages (e.g. Python) to your arsenal.
MDEC has also established a Digital Skills Training Directory. A directory that the corporation hopes will help talents to identify relevant training courses to enhance their CVs or their careers.
The Rise Of E-Commerce And The Need For More Digital Marketers
As consumers spend a large chunk of their time scrolling through online platforms, businesses would have to divert their marketing strategies from conventional TV advertisements to reach a larger network of potential consumers through more relevant mediums.
In 2022, Malaysian-based companies will continue to accelerate digital transformation and automation. Technology-driven roles namely artificial intelligence, e-commerce and digital marketing are expected to be on an upward trend. – Kimberlyn Lu, Robert Walters Country Head for Malaysia and Philippines 
Digital marketers, Youtubers and freelancers are high in demand consequently. LinkedIn Talent Insights (LTI) suggested that there has been a growing number of digital talent in Malaysia, either self-employed, freelancers or Youtubers. In fact, the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint places a target of half a million jobs in the digital economy by 2025. The sector is projected to contribute 22.6% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) .
The job scope of digital marketers includes tailoring effective marketing campaigns. In addition, content creators, social media managers are also being sought out.
SEO (search engine optimisation) specialists are also highly required to ensure the created content reaches its intended audiences.
Even for existing marketing graduates and talents, digital marketing skills is on top of companies list for relevant skill sets. Despite the high number of universities and colleges offering the associated courses, the demand exceeds the supply.
Although there may be many marketing graduates produced by the universities and colleges, not many possess the creativity to drive sales and marketing for the tourism and theme park industry, especially when creativity comes with experience. – TalentCorp’s Critical Occupation List report 
Thus, current talent must equip themselves with relevant certification, enrolling into courses that could boost their knowledge and, the current marketing trends should be at the tip of your fingers.
Reskilling and upskilling are essential to staying relevant in the future. As the economy reopens and business activities pick up pace, market conditions will improve and along with it, job opportunities seeking enhanced digital and e-commerce skillsets. Kimberlyn Lu, Robert Walters Country Head for Malaysia and Philippines 
Engineers Are Also Needed In All Sectors
Talentcorp’s report also showed that there are critical job scopes contrary to the general perspective of manufacturing. In addition to manufacturing, the construction and tourism sector also requires skilled workers to fill in positions of electrical engineers, technicians and even mechanical engineers. Some industry subsectors have cited that the existing perception of prestige made it harder to attract talents.
The E&E sector, in particular, needs more engineers to cater to increasing demand and progress of the companies. Over the years, multinational corporations (MNCs) and various companies have come to Penang. When they set up here, they need the local workforce to support their operations. – Datuk Jimmy Ong, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman 
Despite the above-average offered wages, there are still insufficient Malaysians working as an engineer in all sectors. This is partly because most have not registered with the Board of Engineers Malaysia to qualify them as professional engineers.
Sometimes paper qualification alone isn’t enough to get the job, and experts have cited the right attitude is just as important.
It is indicated that the quality and attitude of the candidates have deteriorated as compared to 10 to 20 years ago.
The candidates may have the paper qualification but do not have the technical knowledge and skills that are critical for the industry. It is observed that these fresh graduates lack discipline and do not possess dedication for their work. – TalentCorp’s Critical Occupation List report 
With the adoption of automation, the industry is ever-evolving and perhaps, talents should venture into it without prejudice.
Talents may consider the training programme established by Electrical Engineering Productivity Nexus (EEPN) to improve young engineers’ soft and technical skills. In light of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, current engineers are also encouraged to specialise through Postgraduate studies.
Engineers have to specialise and get involved in research. They’ll need in-depth knowledge to help companies break through to the next level of innovation. – Electrical Engineering Productivity Nexus Chairman, Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai 
The Bottom Line
The stated industries above are just among the few in Malaysia struggling to find new talents to join their companies and enterprises. Young graduates of today may have also considered partaking in entrepreneurship and self-employment that is more flexible.
But to experts, it is also disheartening to watch young professionals such as engineers venturing into the gig economy such as being a Grab driver.
The industry needs engineers so we can’t afford to have these youngsters going into insurance, marketing or becoming a Grab driver, just because they keep stumbling at the interview stage. Imagine four years of university gone to waste. – Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai,EEPN Chairman
Many professionals from Malaysia have also gone abroad to seek better quality of life and, at least 72% of young Malaysians are planning to emigrate if given a chance. However, jobs are still up for grabs in Malaysia in certain sectors and job seekers would have to work just a bit more to land a job.
Upskilling programmes are readily available to boost your resume. At the same time, put yourself out there, and scour for potential job opportunities through various platforms such as the government-run portal, MyFuture Jobs. The right job may be one click away.
Explore our sources:
- Department Of Statistics Malaysia. (2020). Key Statistics of Labour Force in Malaysia, December 2020. Link
- Department of Statistics Malaysia. (2021). Key Statistics of Labour Force in Malaysia, November 2021. Link
- Talentcorp. (2021). Critical Occupations List. Link
- Jobstreet Malaysia. (2021.).8 Most In-Demand Jobs In Malaysia For 2022. Link
- A.Granzen. (2021).Spotlight On Southeast Asia: The State Of Digital Transformation In Malaysia. Forrester. Link
- Randstad.(2021).Adopting technology for business continuity: IT market outlook 2022. Link
- S.Nair. (2021). Talent: Digital job vacancies almost tripled in Malaysia. The Edge Markets. Link
- V. Ganesan. (2021). Malaysia e-shopping king of the region, 9 out of 10 online by end-2021. The Edge Markets. Link
- H.H.Dusim. (2021). Food deliveries lead to more plastic waste. The Malaysian Insight. Link
- Eduspiral.(n.d.).Technology-driven Jobs Namely Artificial Intelligence, e-Commerce & Digital Marketing on an Upward Trend for Malaysia in 2022. Link
- The Star. (2021).Digital Marketing: More than just a trend. Link
- R.Lim. (2021).E&E sector needs more engineers as demand increases. The Star. Link
- C.Chin. (2019). Engineering The Future Together. The Star. Link