Limited impact on job market in Malaysia

thestar Online


PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian employment market will be affected by the global economic downturn but the impact may be limited due to the resilience of the local economy, according to human resources consultants.

“Malaysia is much stronger now compared to the 1997 Asian financial crisis,” said Vivek Nath, country manager at human resources firm Watson Wyatt (M) Sdn Bhd.

Nath said he was cautiously optimistic Malaysia would weather the storm, noting that “banks are generally strong and the Government has commendable levels of foreign exchange reserves.”

Manpower Staffing Services (M) Sdn Bhd director Liza Hussain said outsourcing firms, particularly those serving multinational companies related to information technology services, were still actively hiring.

“We have yet to see a fall in demand for staff from these outsourcing companies,” she told StarBiz.

Talent2 International Ltd director for South Asia, Leigh Howard, observed that large-scale retrenchments in Malaysia had not happened, but noted that “since the downturn started in the US, many US companies located here have announced hiring freezes.”

“In addition, Malaysian companies that export products and services to the US would be similiarly affected,” he added.

However, local “A-grade” talents were still being snapped up, especially those with international experience, Leigh said, adding that local banks were keen to hire Malaysians who had worked in Hong Kong.

“Similiarly, many local conglomerates are hiring Malaysians returning from overseas as their experience would be invaluable in the tough times ahead,” he added.

Vivek concurred that banks were hiring selectively but noted that some financial institutions had imposed hiring freezes for non-core functions.

According to Hewitt Associates senior consultant Taranjeet Singh, the manufacturing sector in Malaysia will be the first to be affected in the global slowdown, possibly over the next three quarters.

“Service support for the manufacturing sector such as sales agents could face job cuts as well,” he said.

Last month, Bank Negara said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the third quarter had slowed to 4.7% from 6.7% in the previous corresponding period as the global slowdown had begun to bite into the real economy.

Malaysia was projected to achieve a 3.5% GDP growth in 2009, sustained by fiscal pump-priming measures, provided that the crisis did not worsen significantly, the central bank said.

To mitigate the effects of the economic slowdown on employment, the Government had put in place various initiatives including training, re-training and creating job opportunities.

The new initiatives are part of the National Action Plan for Employment beginning this year until 2010.