MDEC piloting work visa project for tech freelancers

Norhizam Abdul Kadir, MDEC

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is piloting a work visa programme for tech freelancers to work in Malaysia short term, to fulfil a demand for blockchain capable talents.

MDEC growth ecosystem development vice-president Norhizam Abdul Kadir explained proposal papers had been submitted to the Immigration Department and the Home Ministry for the Digital Freelancer Programme, which aimed to encourage foreign talents to work here.

He said the programme leveraged off the Professional Visit Pass, which allows foreign talents with professional qualifications or skills to enter Malaysia for up to 12 months to provide services, or undergo practical training with a Malaysian company, on behalf of an overseas company.

Norhizam said MDEC will work with blockchain organisation Nem Foundation and Estonian cross-border job marketplace Jobbatical. Nem would define the talents needed while Jobbatical would supply them, then Immigration would help in approving the qualified talent by providing them the PVP while MDEC would help to facilitate the whole process.

"We will be kicking it (the programme) off starting with Blockchain jobs. The number of Visas to be issued depends on the projects that will be run by blockchain companies in Malaysia," he said, during a press conference at the Malaysia Tech Week 2019, held in Bangsar South, today.

Nem Malaysia CEO Jasmine Ng said such a measure would encourage tech tourism and in turn, these visiting talents would also upskill local staff that work with them.

Asked how many staff Nem was looking to bring in, she said it would come down to costing as international talent expect to be paid in US dollars and those with the relevant skill sets in programming and blockchain command a fairly high salary.

The Digital Freelancer Programme will be one of the first proposals brought up by the Malaysia Innovation Policy Council (MIPC), when it convenes for the first time next Monday.

The council was introduced earlier in the year through MDEC as a platform to drive growth in the tech industry by promoting policies and regulations which encourage innovation.

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