The tech industry underwent significant rightsizing activity in 2023, with layoffs reported across the sector, including major players such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

Many of these redundancies affected support functions such as human resources and marketing rather than technical roles. The headline figures overlook tremendous growth both within the tech sector itself, and in technology roles within the broader economy as companies double down on digital transformation.

In fact, the demand for tech talent largely outstrips supply in Malaysia, fuelling a fierce talent competition. As a result the government has expanded its support to develop the technology sector in the 2024 budget, including funding for cybersecurity and a plan to increase investment in e-sports.

With hiring projected to be higher than in 2023, employers are going to have to align with evolving employee expectations to attract their desired talent, and invest in relevant learning and development programmes to keep pace with market competition.

This article offers insights from Randstad Malaysia’s 2024 market and salary outlook report, including key labour trends and employer insights on salaries, bonuses, tech hiring trends and talent expectations.

Download the full report to gain valuable insights for your talent attraction and workforce planning strategy in 2024.

malaysia's emerging IT keeps growing
malaysia's emerging IT keeps growing

AI hype not yet leading to jobs

One of the most hotly debated topics of 2023 was the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), triggered by the launch of ChatGPT for mainstream use. While globally, generative AI has led to the rise of new roles such as prompt engineer and a rise in demand for talent with natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning skills, this has had less of an impact so far on Malaysia, with limited demand for AI skills.

That’s likely to change in future as use cases for AI grow, starting with a notable impact on cybersecurity. 

malaysia strengthens cybersecurity for tech resilience

In the 2024 budget, RM60 million is allocated to government body CyberSecurity Malaysia to develop a 5G cybersecurity testing framework. This investment shows a focus on strengthening cybersecurity in the face of advancing technology.

Malaysia is far from alone in facing growing cybersecurity threats, but the problem is exacerbated by an ongoing shortage of cybersecurity experts. The government is trying to address this through programmes such as the Global Accreditation Cybersecurity Education Certification Scheme (Global ACE), CyberGuru and Cyber Range Consortium by CyberSecurity Malaysia, which aim to reskill workers.

Given proposed updates to the country’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which will introduce new obligations to data users and processors, the need for skilled cyber talent is pressing. Some employers may turn to global talent to plug the gaps, but those who succeed in the long term will be companies that combine this approach with a structured skills transfer programme to ensure the development of local talent.

malaysia’s growing gaming industry

Gaming is a serious business in Malaysia – so much so that the University of Wollongong Malaysia has launched a bachelor’s degree in game development. The presence of a growing talent pool has attracted major developers, including PlayStation and Bandai Namco, to set up studios. Alongside these industry giants, a thriving start-up scene further adds to the dynamic landscape.

The government has provided strong support, including allocating RM30 million in the 2024 budget to promote Malaysia as an e-sport development hub

We’re also seeing private-sector initiatives to develop local talent. For example, this includes gaming commerce company Xsolla’s launch of the Xsolla Curine Academy. There is also the joint partnership between virtual production company 3Particle Solution Sdn Bhd and Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) for talent development programmes centred around extended reality (XR), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

With the global gaming industry predicted to reach US$321 billion by 2026, there remains tremendous growth potential. In Malaysia, we see particular demand for game developers and 3D artists for the country to be able to fully take advantage of this opportunity.

regional delivery centres gain ground

As shared services gain ground, both public and private partners are working to grow the tech sector in Malaysia. In October 2023 Allianz Asia Pacific opened a regional delivery centre, centralising its IT functions across the region into one location. Amazon Web Services also announced plans to launch an AWS Region in Malaysia, ultimately investing RM25.5 billion by 2037.

Regional delivery centres bring greater efficiency as well as economies of scale, as large companies are able to tap into a relatively large talent pool while enjoying significantly lower overheads.

In the short term this is likely to lead to an increase in competition for highly skilled tech talent, potentially driving up average salaries in the process. In the long term this further investment is extremely promising for the sector, stimulating infrastructure development and collaboration. This also provides further opportunities for knowledge transfer and upskilling of talent.

2024 salary trends in emerging technology

For employees opting to stay in their current roles, salary increments are expected to be largely in line with 2023 trends, hovering around 4%. Those who switch to a new employer within the sphere of emerging technology can anticipate a substantial salary increase, ranging from 15 to 35%, depending on their skills and experiences.

competition will benefit candidates

In 2023, there is renewed confidence among talent who understand that demand for their skills exceeds supply. We expect this to lead to an increased willingness for candidates to switch employers for a  higher salary or non-monetary benefits such as work flexibility.

Employers who are able to offer exposure to different skills through projects – in particular high growth areas like AI and big data – will enjoy an advantage in recruiting talent. Companies will want to look at boosting their structured learning and development programmes, both to aid retention and to offer prospective candidates more than just a cash incentive to join.

Hybrid working remains to be a high expectation among candidates. Employers who provide the flexibility that talent is looking for will be more attractive than those who insist on a full return to the office. According to Randstad Malaysia’s 2023 Employer Brand Research report, 1 in 2 Malaysians said that they were pursuing new job opportunities in favour of better work-life balance.

With the ongoing talent war, it’s common for candidates to receive multiple offers, so employers may want to streamline their hiring process to make faster offers. Seeing as interviews can often stretch on for several weeks due to assessments and approvals, talent want a faster turnaround time so that they can secure the best possible roles without delay.

the most in-demand jobs in emerging technology in 2024

With demand both from technology companies and businesses undergoing digital transformation, we expect robust hiring activities in 2024. While not as frenzied as the hiring boom in 2022, we do expect to see increased hiring across the board.

Soft skills are more important than ever as digital transformation moves tech from the server room to the boardroom. Communication skills and problem-solving remain in demand, and candidates who excel in these areas can generally command a premium.

We expect the following roles to be most in demand:

  • Coding - software developers, programmers and software engineers
  • Automation – especially roles in testing and quality assurance such as automation engineers and automation testers
  • Gaming - developers and 3D artists
  • Digital transformation – analysts, as well as lead roles that can plan and execute programmes from scratch
most-in demand tech jobs in malaysia
most-in demand tech jobs in malaysia

download malaysia’s emerging technology industry 2024 market and salary outlook report.

The 2024 Randstad Malaysia Market and Salary Outlook report looks at talent analyses, key trends and new salary benchmarks in the following industries:

  • Emerging technology
  • Human resources and legal
  • Oil and gas

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