What are Malaysia’s Top Ten Talent Trends for 2018?
Malaysia’s talent market in 2018 will be all about adapting to change with candidates urged to keep up with trends in their sector so they can actively develop the skills in demand and stay relevant in the employment market. This is just one of the top 10 talent trends for 2018, according to recruiting experts Hays.

“Many sectors are being reshaped by technology creating new roles, but also different demands for those in existing jobs,” says Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays Malaysia. “Marketing is a great example with the demand for digital expertise now greater than that of the traditional marketing function, but we are also seeing demand for professionals in financial services and many others expected to know how to harness digital tools to drive success for their organisation,” says Tom. “We strongly urge candidates at all levels of seniority not to fight the changing trends, but to instead show genuine curiosity about the changes taking place and show an active interest in learning new skills and experience,” he says.

The digital economy is expected to add more than 20 per cent to Malaysia’s GDP before 2020, particularly with the country’s launch of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) and the Malaysia Digital Hub that will propel the country’s digital advancement. In another example of change, Hays research shows automation is impacting both sales candidates and even some senior roles in finance including Chief Financial Officer (CFO) roles. “CFOs have always been required to cast a strategic eye over the numbers but in today’s world of digital transformation, the contemporary CFO should develop hands on experience in using data analytics to map out how their function will leverage automation in 2018 and beyond,” he says. “Marketing too is being transformed by digital across most sectors but the change is particularly rapid in retail, financial services and insurance where a new generation of customers prefer the online experience.”

The International Data Corporation (IDC) expects Malaysia’s digital transformation (DX) to attain macroeconomic scale over the next 3 to 4 years, which will change the way that organisations operate and reshape the national economy.  “Those professionals that believe traditional marketing will hold its place need to think again and start to actively build skills in the digital space if they want to stay employed certainly not just for 2018, but in the years to come,” says Tom.  “However, change is now a constant for most roles. Leaders and those that advise across the business particularly HR professionals need to stay at the top of their game when it comes to adaptability and possess a willingness to learn about new technologies and how they are impacting their sectors.”

“In general terms, Malaysia’s strengthening economy is creating a positive recruitment outlook for 2018, but the trend of technological transformation will continue,” says Tom.

Hays top 10 talent trends for 2018 in Malaysia are:
1. Sales talent must pivot in 2018
The use of automation tools to streamline the sales process remains hot in Malaysia. We are now seeing some companies using automation tools to manage the entire sales process from end to end and predict this trend will gain momentum in 2018. The good news for candidates is sales professionals remain critical to a company’s unique value proposition and so we expect continued demand for quality candidates well versed in personalised selling. Sales talent are also in the prime position to get in on the ground floor of one of the exciting new start-ups establishing operations in Malaysia. Sales professionals will need to be ready to pivot to where the opportunities are in 2018.

2. Flexible working options
Remote working will be on the rise in 2018, especially amongst start-up companies far less attached to the traditional model of having employees where they can see them. We are already seeing start-ups employing remote-based sales teams but expect this style of work could apply to a range of other roles. Outside of the start-up community, Malaysian employers are feeling the pressure to offer more flexible work options to both men and women as a younger generation of employees are less reticent about asking to work from home or varied hours to accommodate professional development and also child and elder care responsibilities.

3. Marketing professionals reaching tipping point
Growing adoption rates of online shopping in Malaysia is increasing the demand for innovative digital specialists able to build brands online, drive sales and grow market share. Candidates with the right mix of skills are already in short supply and we expect the market to tighten further in 2018. Marketing professionals are urged to actively develop digital knowledge, skills and experience by investing in training and networking, but also by actively asking for digital assignments in their current roles, even if that means deferring to a more junior colleague with greater digital knowledge.

4. Digital impacting finance roles
Financial services firms, insurers and banks are hiring digital talent to help them connect with a younger audience. Companies in Malaysia are focusing far more attention on developing direct “one click” online channels to engage with their customers and far less on traditional channels. New roles across customer-experience and emerging technologies are expected to hit the recruitment market in 2018 including roles in artificial intelligence, data analytics and blockchain technology. Meanwhile, many businesses in Malaysia will continue to undergo digital transformation in 2018 that will impact a number of roles even at CFO level. The year ahead will see many companies look to CFOs to leverage digital tools to analyse structured and unstructured data that will enable them to make better strategic decisions for their business.

5. IT Shared service centre attracts new employers
Malaysia has long been known for its skilled IT Shared Services sector but in 2017, many large organisations moved their hubs to other countries. This created an available pool of quality talent and a big opportunity for other companies to secure talent with help desk and IT service management skills. We are now seeing medium-sized companies taking up this opportunity and setting up their IT Shared Service Centres in Malaysia. We expect this trend to continue over 2018, but candidates should keep an open mind to the differences in the way large and medium-sized firms operate.

6. Supply Chain and Manufacturing gaining strength
Supply Chain leadership roles will be expected to go beyond daily operations in 2018 to contribute across strategy, sustainability and compliance. The candidate market includes both replacement hiring and newly created roles. Demand Planners with solid systems knowledge are tipped to stay on the hiring priority list too with more companies looking at using trend analysis and forecasting to enhance profitability. In 2018, new manufacturing hubs and the changing of regulations are expected to attract more foreign investors and MNCs. This will drive demand for candidates with plant set-up, project management, and technology transfer backgrounds. Safety, Health & Environment professionals will also continue to be in demand in a continuing trend of recent years.

7. The Rise of RPO
A greater number and mix of organisations will consider implementing Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) for the first time in 2018. Local awareness about business process outsourcing or BPO has grown markedly while RPO had been tried by some organisations that then moved the recruitment function back to internal talent acquisition departments after a suboptimal experience. That is now changing with RPOs becoming a preferred option for many organisations. Manufacturing RPOs remain strongly used despite some plants and factories moving to more low cost countries.

8. Financial services and banking on an upward swing
Financial services and banking recruitment picked up in 2017 and we see this trend strengthening further in 2018. Recruitment activity should remain strong in Private Banking, Wealth Management, Commercial Banking, Wholesale Banking – both for front and back office roles – and Islamic Banking, particularly Shariah professionals able to connect conventional and Islamic banking with ease. Due to tightening government regulations, risk and compliance professionals will see plenty of opportunity in 2018. Those in highest demand are technically savvy and have their finger on the pulse of upcoming risk and compliance issues in a range of business functions. To be successful, risk and compliance candidates must also be proactive, able to think outside the box and have excellent stakeholder management skills. The transfer pricing guidelines updated in 2017 and other regulatory change will also increase demand for all rounder tax professionals in 2018 to work in MNCs and other corporates.

9. Malaysia’s compliance culture maturing
We expect growing demand for audit professionals in 2018 off the back of a stronger economy, changing regulatory environment and greater technological innovation. Audit professionals, including internal audit specialists, will remain in strong demand, but so will those well versed in IT audit. New technologies are being deployed within a rising number of industries and across a wider range of functions so the IT audit trend will only grow over the year ahead. However, overall, we still expect more demand for audit talent in the financial services sector including insurance firms. Candidates with good advisory and business partnering skills will also be in high demand. Malaysia has passed a tipping point to embrace a compliance culture across banking, finance and insurance so the market for talent will remain strong in 2018.

10. HR professionals acting as change navigators
With so much change taking place in most industries, the reliance on HR professionals is increasing. Individual business leaders as well as business units are looking to HR to provide support and strategic advice on everything from upskilling, motivating employees and future workforce planning to managing multiple generations under one roof. We predict the importance of HR will only increase in 2018. HR professionals are advised to develop a working knowledge of the emerging technologies impacting their sector.

Source: Hays