Calling all professionals

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 11 Jun 2017

WHILE software developer, recruiter, database developer, information security specialist, data analyst, corporate tax specialist, payroll specialist, business intelligence consultant, regulatory specialist and marketing research specialist, are LinkedIn’s “top 10” most-in-demand talents, those interested in traditionally-popular fields also have reason to be optimistic. Many crucial areas like medicine, engineering and accounting, are still thriving.

And, according to Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, the sales and marketing, hospitality, food and beverage line, are also hiring. He, however, says job seekers are reluctant to enter the sales and marketing profession, viewing the job as too demanding, especially with the need for English proficiency.

Multilingual talents for contact centres and customer service roles are also much-sought after, as are HR professionals to help companies map long-term growth plans, he says. Meanwhile, companies involved in ICT, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing, education and manufacturing, will continue filling key positions.

“With new manufacturing hubs in Negri Sembilan, Johor and Penang, supply chain management experts well-versed in automation, process improvement, industrial engineering and research, are needed.”

And, with financial institutions strengthening their governance structures, positions to manage anti-money laundering activities, sales and regulatory compliance, are opening up, he adds.

“New rules and regulations for financial institutions are being introduced, so, there’s a greater demand for risk managers and compliance professionals.


With only 7,000 over medical specialists, including 4,000 in the public service, there’s an overall shortage of specialists. It’s not just the numbers that’s the issue, but the need to maintain the high standard of specialists. On a positive note, there’s a fair distribution of these specialists nationwide.

The key now is to ensure that specialists remain in the public sector to impart their skills and knowledge to the next batch of experts. The Health Ministry and universities must continue sending their trainees for attachment and specialised training overseas. We should also utilise private sector expertise to train future specialists.

Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice Malaysia president,

Dr Sng Kim Hock

We have more than 6,500 clinics and some 7,000 GPs equally spread out in the urban and rural areas. There are too many GPs. And now, with the government absorbing only the top 40% – 50% of new doctors who complete their four-year contracts in the service, there will be a huge spillover to the GP sector. Plus there’s an influx of overseas­-trained doctors. The existing moratorium on new medical colleges is a temporary solution. Unless issues of oversupply of doctors, and encroachment of private hospitals and diagnostic centres in primary care are addressed, the concept of family practice and personalised care envisioned by the Health Ministry will only be a dream.

The ministry should build more hospitals and create more posts. Medical schools must have their own teaching hospitals. And young doctors should be encouraged to explore avenues like lecturing, research and other non-clinical areas.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president,

Dr Ravindran R. Naidu

Due to supply, demand and remuneration, there may be an oversupply in urban and semi-urban areas. But in rural areas, GPs are scarce. The Health Ministry can play an advisory role by providing databases for prospective GPs to open clinics at locations based on need. Doctors can be given tax rebates or other exemptions to entice them to practise in rural areas.

While there are reports of an oversupply, there are areas of undersupply within the profession waiting to be taken up.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) vice-president,

Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah

The number of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric occupational therapists and psychiatric social workers in Malaysia is lagging, with the Philippines and Pakistan further up the field.

However, these countries merely churn out numbers that are not necessarily reflected in the scaling up of services. There are about 300 psychiatrists in the country, with a sizeable number in the private sector and concentrated in the Klang Valley. The ratio is probably 1:100,000, which isn’t ideal. The WHO says it should be 1:50,000. We have about 16 clinical psychologists in government service, and some 30 or so nationwide. The pathetic number of clinical psychologists, especially in the public sector, is shocking.

Similarly, the number of psychiatric occupational therapists and psychiatric social workers is dismal. There’s an oversupply of doctors and a shortage of specialists. In the government service, salaries are standardised, irrespective of discipline, but in the private sector, a psychiatrist definitely earns less than his counterpart in most other specialities, because the practice of psychiatry hardly involves surgical, medical procedures or extensive investigations. But with increased awareness on mental health issues, the acceptance of mental illness and improved help-seeking behaviour, mental health professionals are much sought after these days, although it might still take longer for the psychiatrist to buy the de rigueur BMW compared to a surgeon.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president,

Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj

It’s reasonable to say that lowering the dentist-population ratio will help ensure good oral healthcare services that are accessible and affordable. The more the merrier is generally true in dentistry as there are more dentists to treat all the oral health problems that are inherent in any population, provided the standard of training is good. Waiting time to see a dentist reduces, dentists are spread out more evenly in urban and rural areas, and accessibility is improved. Due to the law of demand and supply, treatment should become increasingly affordable.

Under or oversupply is tied closely to the demand and sophistication of demand, which in turn, is linked to the education level of the populace. So, the ideal dentist­-population ratio depends on the level of oral health we as a nation want and the resources we are willing to commit. That’s determined by how informed people are and what we can afford. Dentists are physicians who specialise in the mouth. We’re not just concerned with your teeth, but also your overall health – physiologically, psychologically and socially.

Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) president,

Dr Chow Kai Foo


We’re producing over 1,300 pharmacy graduates yearly. The recommended ratio by WHO for developed countries is 1:2,000. Our ratio to population is 1:2,837 and 59% of registered pharmacists are in the public sector. There should be a proper count on practising pharmacists who have direct contact with patients, rather than merely the number of pharmacists in the registry. But whether we need 1,300 pharmacy graduates yearly, is for the Government to decide.

If there’s a proper national plan on healthcare involving both public and private sectors under the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) initiative, we can identify the needs and quality of pharmacists.

The current healthcare system isn’t sustainable. There must be a state-owned national healthcare insurance scheme, a reasonable mechanism to control medicine pri­cing, proper zoning of private clinics and community pharmacies to serve the rakyat, and an integrated healthcare system invol­ving primary, secondary and tertiary care in this country. The Government must make a stand on dispensing separation.

Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) president,

Amrahi Buang


In developed nations, there should be at least one engineer to a group of 75 to 150. Last year, Malaysia’s population stood at about 31.7 million, so with 200,000 engineers, we’re close to the 1:150 ratio. But we should target a ratio of 1:100 by 2020 to speed up our transformation to a developed nation.

Geo-technical, water, marine, mechanical, electrical and electronic, system, IT, and process engineers are in demand. In the next three years, two million jobs in computer, mathematics and engineering-related fields will be created worldwide.

But many youngsters don’t want to be engineers because there’s a misconception that we earn less than other professionals.

We earn just as much but we’re low profile, so, engineering doesn’t seem as glamo­rous. People think our job is dirty, difficult, and dangerous, but many engineers work in a comfortable and clean environment.

Many CEOs of listed companies are engineers. We’ve been actively promoting interest in engineering, but the quality and trainability of local graduates are a major concern.

As the country’s biggest employer, the Government can motivate students to take up engineering by promoting engineers to top positions in the civil service.

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) president,

Tan Yean Chin

Public transport

There are some 300,000 commercial dri­vers nationwide. Oversupply is an understatement if you take into account the illegal e-hailing drivers.

But if you look at taxis alone, it’s just nice because not all cabbies drive full-time.

But once e-hailing laws are passed, there will be an oversupply of taxi drivers because I expect at least 70% of e-hailing drivers to quit and join us.

Big Blue Taxi Service founder,

Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail


When talking about teacher-­to-student ratio, we must be specific about whether we are referring to enough teachers to teach our students, or enough subject teachers to teach a particular subject.

And, of our 450,000 teachers, some – like counsellors, administrators in government departments, and those teaching in colleges – don’t enter classes, nor do they teach specific subjects. So, let’s confine the question of whether there are enough teachers, to secondary and primary schools.

The best learning is done in small classes involving personal interaction with teachers. A student learns better with more face time at school. It should be one teacher to one student, so whatever number of teachers we have, it’s never going to be enough if we talk about the student’s education. There will always be an undersupply of teachers in the country if we want to be ahead of the rest.

National Union of The Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general,

Harry Tan


There are approximately 7,100 law firms and 17,300 lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia who fall under the purview of the Bar Council.

There is no data to suggest whether there’s an under or oversupply of the profession (but) there is ample work in the areas of civil and commercial litigation, criminal law and conveyancing.

Lawyers who are newly-called to the Bar are still able to gain employment, provided they are not fussy about the type of firm, or the type of work undertaken by the firm.

The Bar Council has been developing and advocating for the Common Bar Course to be implemented as the single entry point to the legal profession for both local and foreign law graduates, (because) with globalisation and the liberalisation of the legal sector, it’s imperative that Malaysian lawyers are able to compete with their counterparts from other jurisdictions.

Bar Council president,

George Varughese


The number of insurance agents stands at around 80,000. It’s been the same for many years. The ratio-to-population is 1:375. In Taiwan, the ratio is 1:77 – that’s 300,000 agents servicing a population of 23 million.

There, the insured population is 260%. In Malaysia, only 54% are insured. To achieve Bank Negara’s insurance penetration rate to 75% by 2020, we need more agents.

Most graduates want to “work” for a fixed salary of RM3,000 to RM4,000. But a career in life insurance offers a stable income of RM100,000 per annum after three years in business, if you work for it.

National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance and Family Takaful Advisors (Namlifa) president,

James Bong


The industry is booming in a very big way, but it’s the foreigners who are benefiting. We have about 3,000 local spa therapists and are still short of 3,000.

Jobs seen as “hard work” have been taken over by labour from neighbouring countries. The spa industry is no different. Therapists from China pay to come here to work. They work 15 hours a day, seven days a week.

Their attitude is different from locals. But eventually, we must stop relying on foreigners. A 25-year-old Indonesian can earn RM10,000 a month here as a spa director. Where are the locals? We must take the industry to the next level. There’s lots of money to be made, but Malaysians must get ready for real-world demands.

Everyone wants to be doctor, engineer or lawyer, and then they complain that there are no jobs. Malaysians don’t want to do what they consider “tough jobs”. And, some still have a negative perception of the spa industry. But that’s changing.

Malaysian Association of Wellness and Spa (MAWSPA) president,

Dr Baskaran Kosthi


Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), it’s envisaged that our nation will need 60,000 accountants by 2020 to transform Malaysia into a developed nation.

The profession is versatile and offers diverse opportunities. It goes beyond the “accountant” title as job designations nowadays are more creative. The profession includes financial controller, chief financial officer, vice-president of finance, financial director and so forth.

We’re very much in need of accountants. There’s a low number of accounting graduates registered with the MIA. There’s fear of how work-life balance may be affected by the profession.

The younger generation see emerging areas within the technological space as more attractive. To increase the number of accountants, the MIA has intensified efforts to engage with schools and institutions of higher learning.

Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) Chief Executive Officer,

Dr Nurmazilah Mahzan


The number of architects should be increased. To achieve the ideal ratio of 1:4,000, we need 7,500 architects. The present ratio of 1:15,000, is far below the ratio in most developed countries.

It’s time for us to build capacity to compete with international firms. Local firms are facing increasing competition from these firms, both here and abroad.

Due to the current soft market in the local development sector, the demand for architects is lower. But with new infrastructure, townships, housing and building projects starting to grow again, the market is expected to improve. Demand for architects will start to increase by 2020.

Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president,

Ezumi Harzani Ismail

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Career , jobs , over supply , retrenchment , under supply


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