- Tracked from June 2020 to April 2021, more than 75 percent of the vacancies are for experienced talents
- Sharp rise indicates a thriving digital economy amid the pandemic
Opinion Editorial by Dr. Sumitra Nair, Vice President & Head of Digital Skills and Jobs at the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)
As Malaysia and the world is experiencing extended impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of digital is ever more important for the survival of businesses. It is therefore not entirely surprising that digital job vacancies in Malaysia have almost tripled from June 2020 to April 2021. This finding was made based on Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)’s tracking of digital vacancies on five popular recruitment platforms in Malaysia since June 2020.
MDEC found that the number of digital job vacancies increased from around 19,000 in June last year to more than 56,000 vacancies as at April 2021, with the largest share of vacancies posted on Linkedin. The most popular jobs posted were in Software Development, Data Science, IT Services and eCommerce. 76 percent of the vacancies were for experienced hires, versus only about 20 percent of vacancies open to fresh graduates and rest being for internships.
Based on data extracted from the LinkedIn Talent Insights (LTI) platform, skills which are high in demand in Malaysia as well as the South East Asian region include analytical skills, software development, various programming languages and cloud computing.
As more non-tech industries embrace digitalisation, companies in market research, cosmetics, music and tobacco have been actively hiring digital talents over the past year. At the same time, the information communications technology and financial services sectors are struggling to meet the strong demand for digital talents in their respective sectors.
MDEC’s Digital Skills and Jobs Division made these findings based on its analysis of data derived from the LTI platform in April 2021. MDEC’s research involved more than 960 digital roles across all industries in Malaysia and the South East Asian region.
Where are these digital talents?
As of April 2021, there are more than 240,000 digital talents in Malaysia that have LinkedIn profiles and more than half of them are located in Selangor or Kuala Lumpur. Outside the usual hotspots, a surplus of digital talents can also be found in Johor, Penang and Malacca, most likely due to the presence of universities like Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, University Sains Malaysia and Multimedia University in those states. Employers who are in dire need for digital talents may want to run their recruitment drives in those states.
The most popular job titles amongst digital talents in Malaysia include Digital Marketing Executive / Specialist/ Manager, Data Scientist, Full Stack or Software Engineer, Head of Digital In-demand Digital Skills (YoY) and interestingly, YouTuber. Data from LTI also suggest that over the last one year, there has been a 20 to 30 percent growth in the number of talents are either self employed, working as freelancers or YouTubers. This trend of growing number of self-employed or freelancers bodes well with the government’s growing focus on the gig economy and workers. This includes MDEC’s GLOW Penjana programme which trained more than 10,000 unemployed Malaysians on how to secure freelance jobs via online platforms.
What skillsets do these talents have?
In Malaysia, fast growing digital skills includes Computer Science, Information Technology, Python and Adobe Premier Pro which consistently showed a growth of more than 30 percent in the past year. Phyton is one of the foundational skills for data science careers which may explain the spike in this skill. Fast growing skills in Malaysia are somewhat different from the South East Asian region. For example, there’s been much steeper growth in data analytics, back-end web development an React.js skills in the region compared to the types of popular skills in Malaysia. Since the skills that are in demand in Malaysia include Cloud Computing and a variety of programming languages, digital talents who wish to enhance their marketability would do well to pick up skills that are fast growing in our neighbouring countries.
What do these trends mean for Malaysian talents?
While the number of digital job vacancies is high, the majority of the vacancies are for experienced talent. This poses a challenge to fresh graduates. In the short term, fresh graduates could close their experience gap by taking up digital jobs on freelance basis via platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com or Fiverr. At the same time, junior level talents should also start to pick up some of the in-demand digital skills like analytical skills, software development, various programming languages and cloud computing. To help talents identify the right training courses, MDEC has established the Digital Skills Training Directory which lists courses that have been reviewed and endorsed by expert tech practitioners. Job seekers would do well to refer to this directory, while those who are employed can also enhance their careers by taking up courses to acquire some of the in-demand skills mentioned in this article.
As for secondary school leavers or pre-university students who are wondering what courses to pursue in university, these trends suggest promising career opportunities in digital technology-related disciplines. In this regard, MDEC works with 11 universities and five Polytechnics as part of our Premier Digital Tech Institutions initiative. Thanks to the strong collaboration between these institutions and industry players, more than 90 percent of their digital tech graduates get employed within six months of graduation.