"Selling Greater KL as a product' [BTTV]

There is one government agency that has managed to bring in jobs paying an average of RM13,000 a month into Malaysia, pushing Greater Kuala Lumpur as a product.

Just like its name, InvestKL leverages on the nation's capital strength to attract investors to establish regional offices and hubs in Greater Kuala Lumpur (Greater KL) that not only consist of the city of Kuala Lumpur but also some areas in Selangor.

The establishment of global leading companies in Greater KL, has meant higher paying job opportunities for local talents in critical sectors such as technology, manufacturing, data analytics and more.

Chief executive officer Datuk Muhammad Azmi Zulkifli told Business Times that Greater KL has contributed more than 41 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

This was made possible with the establishment of both local and international companies that stimulate high value activities within the area.

Higher average salary

He pointed out that most of the investments that have established its office and hubs in the Greater KL, have brought in work opportunities with average salary of RM13,000.

"The strength of greater KL is the people and the population with a highly educated group of workforce, relatively young, tech savvy and able to adapt and become a key part of any company or as long as they operate from here," he said.

He said based on data gathered by InvestKL, as at December 2022, the agency has secured investment worth of RM21 billion that created 19,000 executive regional work opportunities.

"Out of the 19,000 jobs, 18,500 jobs have been realised.

"These jobs are in the upstream to midstream type of activities, where it requires a lot of management type, financial business, forecasting type of activities which we want to focus to drive the country forward," he added.

Muhammad Azmi said looking ahead in the next few years up to 2030, the focus on creating critical job opportunities will continue to be relevant.

"Greater KL focus on these high value upstream type activities to become a catalyst for investments across the country, where local as well as foreign companies would have their headquarters regional hubs from KL and to move forward on those topics," he added.

Leveraging Kuala Lumpur's greatest strength

Greater Kuala Lumpur has a lot to offer and is depicted as a product of its own for most of the time.

Azmi emphasised what makes Kuala Lumpur so appealing is the culmination of different factors as well as activities that makes the city the regional hub of choice.

These include infrastructure that covers basic needs such as communication, transportation and accessibility which is pivotal for the business.

"Greater KL has certainly given a lot of confidence for investors, as well as assisted in mobility for business.

"When we talk about infrastructure, it's everything. The basics of telecommunications and our journey into 5G, same goes with our pursuit towards mobility in even public transport, metro services and so on," he said.

He said Malaysia continues to be the location of choice due to comprehensive coverage of infrastructure.

Azmi then mentioned the next "it" factor for investors would be the strength of the dynamic multilingual and multicultural talent that the country has got to offer.

"We have very strong quality talents and that has been recognised by multinational companies themselves, where they see diversity becoming a strength

"When a multinational uses KL as a regional hub, they need that cross-cultural talent. And no other location than greater Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia can offer that best best designation to cover activities in the Asia Pacific region" he added.

Pro business policies and common law practice is also part of the list that attracts investors to establish a regional hub for Asia Pacific in Kuala Lumpur.

"We continue to improve upon all these pro-business policies that have given a little bit more certainty as well as a safety net for multinational companies to operate," he said.

Reskilling and Upskilling Malaysian talent

Muhammad Azmi emphasised that it takes support from different parties to ensure the effort to reskilling and upskilling Malaysian talent to materialise and it cannot be done by one agency.

He said that InvestKL apart from getting the investments to come in, also fosters strong collaboration between multinational companies (MNC) that have established operations in Kuala Lumpur with local universities.

"MNCs have gone into universities, worked with the universities up to the point of even changing the syllabus to become more industry relevant to appeal to technology as well as the current market trends right," he added.

The corporate and academia partnership is one of the most effective ways to bolster the process of integrating graduates into the industry.

The agency highly encourages any sort of corporate-academia partnerships on the basis of preparing the graduates to continuously become relevant to the industry.

"I must thank the multinationals, they are never shy to have engagements in universities, wanting to share their experiences, expertise as well as know-how, and see how we can push further.

"When we talk about this technology and upskilling, you just have to be targeted, to work with a specific company to work with the right University, and push this agenda forward.

"That will have an outstanding or monumental effect on the university, and to the professors that have done collaboration and to the company, they would look at Malaysia differently," he commented.

Muhammad Azmi said moving forward, the agency is committed to fostering intersector collaborations to discover the potential that the country has.

On ways to ensure robust job opportunities within Greater KL, each time InvestKL onboard an investor, one of the prerequisite questions is the total committed investment followed by the total of committed jobs that are expected to be generated.

"Because of our specialisation, we focus on jobs of RM5,000 leading to high value and high skill," he said.

He highlighted that the agency still keeps track of any job opportunities that pay below RM5,000, however it is not considered as part of the agency's key performance indicators (KPI).

Making Asean great

When talking about investment, Azmi is upbeat about the secured investments that InvestKL has tracked within the first half of the year.

He said a total of five different companies with very different activities have been secured.

In August, Denmark's Demant, a leading hearing healthcare and audio technology group listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen, opened its first technology hub outside Europe in Kuala Lumpur (KL) to gain a bigger slice of the hearing healthcare market.

Overall, Azmi said companies from the US continues to be the largest single country investor that have invested in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Nonetheless, from the regional point of view, Europe is considered as Greater Kuala Lumpur's largest investor at 50 per cent from its total investors in return.

"Right now I'm taking it closer to home in the Asia Pacific region, the opportunities from China and Japan are certainly very strong, where they are looking at decoupling some of the activities from their countries.

"I must say leveraging on Asean and I think it's time that Asean truly realises its full potential, everybody knows the headlines of 660 million population, one trillion gross domestic product (GDP)," he added.

Azmi said each country within Asean has a role to play in propping up the region in enhancing economic propositions.

He also highlighted the need to focus towards deepening the economic cluster between industries, sectors as well as countries.

"How can we deepen the cluster, deepening the cluster in research and development (R&D) innovation, deepening the cluster in maybe some of the solutions that would be catered specifically towards the ASEAN collaboration,"Azmi said.

According to the World bank, a country truly embraces the high income country classification when it reaches gross national income (GNI) per capita of more than US$13,205.

This is largely correlated to the type of work opportunities that are available in the country, most of the time comes with international investment that decides to make Malaysia the destination for its regional hub or office.

This is where local investment agencies such as InvestKL Corporation steps in.

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