Big salary increases expected for specialist jobs in Malaysia and Singapore

Author: Susan Tam | Date: 17 Feb 2016

Recruitment firm says job-movers will benefit most in niche IT and banking areas

Professionals employed in highly skilled or specialised roles in Malaysia and Singapore should not be surprised if they receive salary increases of 15 to 20 per cent this year.
Robert Walters Malaysia managing director Sally Raj says salaries simply don’t go backwards in Malaysia.
“The issue [in Malaysia] would only be the amount of the increase and, in this market, it's not uncommon to receive a 10 to 12 per cent increase – or even 15 per cent – when you move jobs, especially if you're highly skilled or if you have a specific expertise,” she says.
The firm's 2016 Salary Survey also notes a similar trend for the Singaporean market, where workers in niche areas such as cyber security are expecting to see a rise in salaries of up to 20 per cent.
Despite the major drop in crude oil prices affecting jobs and investment in the oil and gas sector, Robert Walters notes that there was growth in other sectors in Malaysia, particularly information technology (IT), shared services and the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors, as well as in the electrical and electronics industry.
The report predicts that compensation for banking and IT professionals in Malaysia and Singapore will grow because of increasing regulatory requirements in the banking sector and a skills shortage in the technology field.
“There is new technology coming in. Many organisations are gearing up to go online and digital, and you would need appropriate back-office infrastructure to support these developments,” says Raj.
She adds that knowledge about big data, e-commerce and related technologies require support in the industry, driving the demand for professionals skills in these areas.
In the banking sector, knowledge of regulatory requirements and experience with corporate governance are areas in demand for job movers.
For Malaysia, the strengthening of the US dollar has benefitted the export market, particularly electronics and electrical (E&E) organisations in Penang.
Raj also predicts growth and pay rises for employees in the consumer goods market. “It's the bread and butter stuff, your day-to-day things that you would need anyway,” she says. “People still need to buy groceries and you see new brands being launched, maybe at a slower pace.”
The mood on the recruitment front is expected to be quieter; Raj says that hiring decisions will probably take longer due to rigorous checks and scrutiny so that employers are certain of the candidates chosen to fill positions.
The annual Salary Survey also pointed out that there was an acute shortage of specialised skills for certain sectors. In Malaysia, shortages of workers with goods and services tax knowledge are predicted, following the introduction of new government legislation last year. Organisations are looking overseas to satisfy talent shortages in the banking, financing, risk and compliance sectors.
One approach to managing this shortage is to encourage professionals to return to their home countries through government programmes, such as TalentCorp, which also aims to encourage mothers to return to work.
Raj adds that training existing professionals is a vital way to retain top talent. “We advise clients to bring in good talent, train them or coach them, and give them relevant work exposure.”