How TalentCorp is optimising the skills of the Malaysian workforce

Author: Georgi Gyton | Date: 23 Nov 2016

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to inclusive talent management, says Talentcorp’s head of diversity

While the war for talent may be over, we need to make sure people are used to their full potential, says Siti Aishah Md Lassim, head of diversity and capability programmes at Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp).
Speaking at the CIPD’s annual conference in Manchester, UK, Siti Aishah told delegates that although there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to inclusive talent management strategies, the huge benefits a diverse workforce can bring an organisation should make it a key focus.
Government agency TalentCorp aims to help develop Malaysia grow economically, through optimising the talent available to employers. “We look at talent from a diverse canvas,” said Siti Aishah. Focus areas include developing graduates, optimising the talent of current Malaysian professionals, engaging with Malaysians who are abroad, and facilitating foreign talent.
However, the landscape is changing, and we will soon see five different generations employed in the workplace. “We need HR professionals with the ability to see the big picture,” she said. Organisations need to consider where talent will come from – will jobs be filled by onshore or offshore workers, for example? These are the kinds of questions organisations need to ask themselves, said Siti Aishah.
The agency has set up schemes and programmes around its key focus areas. For example, it runs an HR internship programme that offers students from local universities the chance to intern in the HR departments of top Malaysian employers. This enables students to develop the HR skillsets that are required by an industry, and enhances their marketability.
However, Siti Aishah suggested organisations look outside the box when it comes to candidates, as the best don’t always come through traditional routes. “HR is becoming more pervasive,” she said. “We should no longer look at the normal source of talent, we should cast our net a bit wider.”
As part of its work, TalentCorp has also looked at how to engage Malaysia’s 52 per cent female population, “and make them an economic force”. This includes encouraging women to return to work after having children, or caring for an elderly parent, and it has seen strong progress in female labour participation since the agency was set up in 2011; the level has increased from 49.5 per cent in 2012 to 54.1 per cent in 2015. “There can be a stigma attached to career comeback women, in that they are perceived not to be ambitious. That perception has to be changed. People need to know this is doable,” said Siti Aishah.
She called on all organisations to create an inclusive workplace for all types of talent; to create metrics or milestones and measure them (“this is where senior leadership needs to work with HR”), to reinforce them by benchmarking, and to collaborate with organisations who are ahead of others with it comes to diversity and inclusion – for example, those who have won accolades. “Diversity is about the mix, but inclusion is about mixing it well together,” she added.