Job applications from Malaysians have doubled with stronger Singapore dollar [BTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: Job applications from Malaysians have doubled following stronger Singapore dollar, which has risen 13.6 per cent against the ringgit since Covid-19, says a Singapore recruitment agency.

ManpowerGroup country manager Linda Teo said a year-on-year comparison of the number of applications received from Malaysian applicants in December 2022-January 2023 versus December 2023-January 2024 revealed this surge.

In 2020, out of 1.86 million Malaysians living abroad, 1.13 million Malaysians migrated to Singapore. They had either secured jobs, married, travelled daily or resided in Singapore, according to Talent Corporation Malaysia.

"The strengthening of the Singapore dollar against the ringgit over the past few months has led to a surge of Malaysian job seekers applying for positions in Singapore.

"Increased income opportunities due to the stronger Singapore dollar are among the key motivating factors. We have also observed a rise in applications from Malaysians residing beyond Johor," she told Business Times.

The Singapore dollar appreciated from 3.0412 to 3.5184 as of March 8 this, marking a 47.7 rise.

On Feb 21, the ringgit touched a new historical low of 3.5757 against the Singapore dollar in the morning, before closing at a record low of 3.5670 that day.

Teo said the firm generally receives more applications from Malaysians seeking employment in retail, food and beverage, and administration sectors.

Malaysians prefer jobs in corporate settings with regular working hours, especially among those who intend to commute between two countries for work, despite the cumbersome commute. 

"Jobs in corporate settings with regular working hours are preferred, especially among those who intend to commute between two countries for work. 

"For Malaysians possessing relevant technical skills, there is a notable interest in positions within the engineering and manufacturing industries," added Teo.

Established in 1995 in Singapore, ManpowerGroup works with a range of manufacturing, resources, mining, transport and logistics, government, blue chip investment and retail banks, IT vendors and outsourcers, telecoms service providers and infrastructure, utilities and engineering services companies.

Meanwhile, citing Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) data, TalentCorp group chief executive Thomas Mathew said the primary reasons for migration to Singapore and to a lesser extent Brunei include higher salaries, favourable exchange rates, better employment opportunities and improved working environments.

On Feb 19, a DOSM survey revealed that 83 per cent of Malaysian workers in Singapore and Brunei fell into skilled and semi-skilled categories.

TalentCorp, established in 2011 under the Ministry of Human Resources, aims to drive the country's talent strategy towards establishing Malaysia as a dynamic and market-driven global talent hub.

"Our objective is to attract, nurture, and retain the right talent and expertise needed to support Malaysia's journey towards achieving greater economic progress," said Mathew.

Referring to the 2019 Hays Asia Overseas Returnees Report, he said some challenges faced by returning Malaysians.

This includes unsustainable remuneration, unsuitable job opportunities, lack of familiarity with local job market conditions, and difficulties for foreign spouses and children in adapting to the culture.

He suggested that to enhance Malaysia's attractiveness for investment, work and residence, the government must focus on strengthening the economy, increasing investments, providing high-quality job opportunities and fostering a larger pool of skilled talent.

A TalentCorp 2022 survey involving Returnee Programme (REP) participants identified the top five reasons for their return as family reasons, career progression, permanent relocation and Covid-19 related factors.

"For TalentCorp, we recognise the importance of shifting focus from Brain Drain to Brain Circulation, which will positively impact the country.

"That's why we continue to engage with skilled Malaysians worldwide, encouraging them to contribute to Malaysia from wherever they are," said Mathew.

Last year, TalentCorp introduced Malaysia@Heart (MyHeart), a platform bringing together the Malaysian diaspora to interact and explore collaboration opportunities.

"For those considering a return, we offer employment and education facilitation for their children upon their return.

"Eligible individuals may also benefit from tax-related incentives under our REP initiative," he added.

TalentCorp collaborates with various ministries and agencies to facilitate Malaysia's transformation into a more efficient and business-friendly nation, through initiatives such as Malaysia Expatriate Service Centre and Xpats Gateway.

Taking cue from successful examples from other countries, the government needs to ensure gaps between supply and demands of talents are addressed and mismatch is reduced.

Then naturally, wages will rise along with other economic benefits, he said.

"For that to happen, we have been advocating very strongly for the industry, academia and government to come together under a structured and sustainable platform," said Mathew.

TalentCorp has been engaging with schools to speak to teenagers about jobs in demand based on our Critical Occupations List (MyCOL).

"We are pushing the much-needed internship for our students through our National Structured Internship Programme (MySIP) to make them workforce ready," he said.

Mathew said TalentCorp brings Industry and Academia together through our Industry-Academia Collaborations to understand pain points and facilitate solutions.

"We have also set up sector-based Future Skills Talent Councils to help address the prevailing serious mismatch in employment and to prepare for jobs of the future," he added.

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