Silver lining for Malaysian job market

Gan Bock Herm, country manager of JobStreet Malaysia.

Gan Bock Herm, country manager of JobStreet Malaysia.

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On June 15, the Department of Statistics Malaysia revealed that Malaysia’s unemployment rate spiked to 5% in April, the highest in three decades, due to the effects of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Gan Bock Herm, country manager of JobStreet Malaysia has already seen the effects of this on its online platform, which acts as a barometer for the market at large. He says there has been a decline in visitor count and new job postings since the MCO began.

“We believe that Malaysia will face an issue with unemployment over the next 12 months as more companies and jobs are being impacted,” says Gan.

“As this is a health-related issue, jobs that involve close contact [with others] such as restaurants, tourism, and travel sectors have been most impacted,” he says.

However, has witnessed a substantial increase in the number of visits, applications and jobs postings on the online platform since the start of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) announced in early May, which hints at a recovering job market.

“Despite the economic adversity brought about by COVID-19 containment measures, assessment of the search data on the JobStreet platform shows that some industries are still actively hiring,” he says.

These include the banking and financial services, retail and healthcare industries. Gan explains that the sharp increase in demand for talent in these industries is driven by the need for people with relevant experience and skill sets as companies look to adopt new business models and embark on their digital transformation journeys.

He adds that there has been a 250% surge in searches for software-related roles. Basically, the most sought-after jobs are in the information technology, software and manufacturing industries, he says.

“Software-related roles experienced the highest growth in searches, while IT and manufacturing roles posted a 40% growth during this COVID-19 crisis. The food and beverage (F&B) and consumer products industries posted a 112% and 9% growth in job applications respectively, involving roles in sales, e-commerce, customer service and graphic design,” says Gan.

“The COVID-19 crisis has made industries and businesses rethink the way they do business with an increased focus in digitising business operations. The growth in search and applications involve roles that can be remotely executed through technology infrastructure.”

According to Gan, Generation X and Y workers still make up the majority of the entire job market despite the recent market movements, making up 45% and 40% of the working population respectively.

He explains that this is because these two generations have had the experience of working throughout the 2007-2009 global financial crisis, and they are also the generations of talent comfortable working with new technology.

However, Gan maintains that millennials still have a place within the workforce, as they have greater confidence in using new media such as social media, which adds value to an organisation.

“The careful combination of skills and experiences from these generations of talent will better position organisations to rebuild business revenue as we emerge from the MCO,” says Gan.

According to Gan, one of the effects of the pandemic on recruitment is the digitisation of the process, whereby interviews, assessments and hiring are done remotely.

“Human resource personnel would need to equip themselves with the relevant skills to conduct these processes seamlessly,” he points out.

Gan adds that the pandemic has also resulted in companies rethinking the way they do business and candidates upskilling themselves to adapt to the evolving job market. “The advent of the internet age has also made working remotely a viable option, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this the only option for certain roles.”

He says this has sparked a demand for digitally-savvy hires, a point that is further supported by a recent study conducted by JobStreet, The Law of Attraction which indicates that job seekers need to have skills revolving around digital fluency.

“For example, organisations would value proficiency with third-party service tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software and social media for a customer service job. For someone in a marketing position, knowing how to sell and manage digital content is another highly valued skill,” says Gan.

“This kind of adaptation also applies to the recruitment process as well, so it is important that candidates polish up their digital interview skills. This includes common sense preparedness. such as making sure that their technology works by doing sound checks, testing the internet connection speed or even finding your best angle to get natural light so that your face is well-lit during the interview.”

“While the COVID-19 situation is progressively improving, we expect that challenges in the job market will remain for the foreseeable future. Businesses will need to continue to innovate and optimise their recruitment practices to ensure that they identify the right talent for their workforce. Candidates will also need to continuously adapt to the evolving job market to ensure that they remain relevant.“