Malaysian employers urged to combat ‘brain drain’

Author: PM editorial | Date: 13 Apr 2016

Talent optimisation and a greater reliance on ‘free agents’ may mitigate the effects of bright minds fleeing abroad

Malaysian employers must rethink the way they treat their staff in order to cope with an ongoing ‘brain drain’ that experts say will harm both individual organisations and the nation as a whole.
 
A survey by recruitment agency Hays found that 84 per cent of Malaysian jobseekers would leave for an overseas job and a better quality of life. And property consultancy Knight Frank recently published a report which found 26 per cent of Malaysians with US$30 million in investable assets are planning to migrate within the next 10 years. The average rate for countries in the region is 16 per cent.
 
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid recently revealed that 54,406 Malaysians renounced their citizenship from 2010 to 2015, which equates almost two per cent of the population giving up their nationality.
 
Such statistics highlight an “alarming state of continual talent loss from the market,” says Anthony Raja Devadoss, vice president for Asia Pacific at Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group (OCG).
 
“There are numerous ways organisations can do something about the impact of Malaysia’s brain drain problem on their talent and HR requirements,” says Devadoss. “These include talent optimisation, good succession planning, building employee competencies and managing transitions.”
 
Devadoss believes that private and public sector organisations must take action, as the underlying problems could take years to fix. He says organisations need to change the way they manage talent and should consider a ‘free agent’ model of supply chain management (SCM). This would mean utilising non-traditional hiring methods such as temporary staff, independent contractors and freelancers.
 
Kelly OCG believes that such employment arrangements are just as beneficial to free agents as they are to their employers. Its research suggests that 75 per cent of free agents choose that style of work for the freedom and flexibility it provides, and 60 per cent believe it gives them a greater sense of control over their own career development.
 
Despite the problems Malaysia faces in convincing its brightest to stay, the UK’s Reading University recently opened an ultra-modern, MYR 72 million campus in education hub EduCity on the Iskandar peninsula. Higher education is in popular demand – two other UK universities have made similar investments in the country.