Photo - (From left) PIKOM Chairman Chin Chee Seong; and Research Committee Chair Woon Tai Hai
Despite challenging economic factors, Malaysia's 2016 ICT job market remains positive albeit with slower than expected growth and concerns about the outflow of talent, according to national ICT industry association PIKOM's latest research.
During the recent unveiling of the ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia 2016, PIKOM chairman Chin Chee Seong said the local ICT (information and communications technologies) industry has shown resilience in the face of challenges that started in 2014.
These included the slowdown of the economy, the drop in the prices of crude oil and commodities, the depreciation of the Ringgit against major currencies as well the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), said Chin.
He said the total value of ICT in Malaysia for 2015 was estimated to be RM155.2 (US$38.51) billion, based on the average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 8 percent for the period 2010-2015.
Chin said that ICT industry's share of the national economy has expanded from 16.5 percent in 2010 to 17.6 percent in 2015 while the ICT industry's main driver has been the ICT Services (ICTS) subsector - its contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) increased from 3.3 percent in 2000 to 6.6 percent in 2015 and may reach 7 percent by end of 2016.
"It has been a challenging 2015 for the industry," he added. "But we have achieved positive growth that has been particularly driven by the expansion in the ICT Services subsector."
Online job platform JobStreet again conducted the study, which found that the average monthly salary of an ICT professional in Malaysia grew from RM7,706 (US$1,912) in 2014 to RM8,114 (US$2013) in 2015, an increase of 5.3 percent. This year, the projected average monthly salary is RM8,496 (2,108), a 4.7 percent increase over 2015.
Chin said that in 2015, an IT Project Manager in Malaysia earned more than their counterparts in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and India but much less than the ones in United States, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.
Though the ICT Manufacturing subsector has been slowing, the ICT Services subsector has been experiencing positive growth in the last two decades, he added."Consistent with industry growth, salaries also rose although at a slower growth rate."
Chin said that generally all ICT job categories, such as fresh graduates, junior executives, senior executives, middle level managers and senior managers registered a positive salary increase in 2015 albeit with a lower-than-expected growth.
The study found that construction / building /engineering industries posted the highest AAGR of the average monthly salary of ICT professionals for the 2009 to 2015 period, at 8.8 percent, followed by education (8.6 percent); automotive/heavy industry/machinery (8.5 percent) and electrical and electronics (8.5 percent).
The oil / gas / petroleum industry, which has been experiencing a downturn, registered an AAGR of 4.7 percent during the same period and a 2.9 percent year-on-year growth in 2015.
However, oil/gas/petroleum was in the top five paying industries by job category. The other four are banking services; automotive/heavy industry/machinery; agriculture/plantation/aquaculture; and chemical/fertilisers/pesticides.
"The oil, gas and petroleum sector is still ranked as one of the overall top-paying industries by job categories despite the current industry downturn," said PIKOM Research Committee chair Woon Tai Hai.
"In fact in the fresh graduates, senior executives and middle manager job categories, the oil, gas and petroleum was in the top five paying industries in 2015 posting an average monthly salary of RM2,984 (US$740), RM8,291 (US$2,057) and RM11,804 (US$2,929) respectively," Woon said.
He confirmed that PIKOM found that the 5.3 percent salary growth for 2015 for the overall average monthly salary of ICT professionals is the lowest in eight years.
Woon added that while the industry expected a downturn, "it certainly did not expect an impact of such magnitude. Perhaps it is also a wake-up call for the industry to realise that although salaries have been growing, future salary growth cannot be taken for granted."
Woon also said that as in previous years, the industry continued to "face the exodus of talent who seek greener pastures overseas due to better salaries and remunerations."
When compared with Asia, United States and Middle East, Malaysia lagged behind in terms of salaries, which has been a key factor in the continued the brain drain issue.
The Purchasing Power Parity Adjusted Criterion benchmarking scale in 2015 showed that the average monthly salary of an IT Project Manager at entry level in the United Arab Emirates and United States was respectively, 2.18 and 1.5 times more than in Malaysia.
The average monthly salary of an entry level IT Project Manager, in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore, was 1.95 times, 1.88 times and 1.38 times, respectively, more than in Malaysia.
PIKOM's chairman Chin said the industry and the government needed to "tackle the issue of talent outflow through ensuring continuous stream of quality fresh graduates entering the work force, promoting R&D and commercialisation and maintaining competitive salary packages."
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