As Malaysia transitions into a high-income country, there is a greater demand for global Malaysian professionals with international experience and diverse skill sets.
This demand for global Malaysians is further amplified as more home-grown Malaysian companies become regional champions and multinationals headquarter their operations in Malaysia.
Beyond raising awareness of available world-class professional opportunities in Malaysia and enabling overseas Malaysians to contribute from abroad, TalentCorp’s principal focus in engaging Malaysians abroad is to facilitate the return of top Malaysian talent living and working abroad to meet Malaysia’s critical skill gaps.
“Every growing economy has a need for labour and human capital from abroad. The REP and RP-T programmes succeed at attracting people with the skills that Malaysia needs.”
Source: Malaysia Economic Monitor Towards a Middle-Class Society (The World Bank, Dec 2014)
TalentCorp’s focus on facilitating return of top Malaysian talent to meet critical skill gaps involves working more closely with employers to connect with global Malaysian talent and vice versa.
This focus has been reflected by:
- Right incentives, Right Talent: a revision of the Returning Expert Programme (REP) in Apr 2014 tightening incentive and approval criteria to better target Malaysians with critical skillsets for Malaysia.
- Fast-track application process for REP to prioritise company supported applications.
- Global Malaysians job board collaboration with myStarjob.com, launched in Sep 2014 to showcase opportunities targeted at Malaysian talent with international experience.
- JPA Management Apprenticeship Programme to place Malaysia’s scholars to serve bonds with companies driving Malaysia’s economic transformation.
Returning Expert Programme
In the Malaysian Economic Monitor December 2014 report, the World Bank found that REP participants fill skill gaps in the economy.
Key professions for returning Malaysians under the REP include managers, engineers, health professionals and specialists in the financial and education sectors. These occupations correspond to the professions that are in short supply in Malaysia.
The REP eligibility criteria were revised in Apr 2014 to better meet the demands of the labour market and the economy, while ensuring transparency and accountability in the dispensation of a tax incentive by the Government to top Malaysian talent.
Prior to that, the approval criteria principally focused on length of experience abroad. The revisions involved more holistic approval criteria taking into account not only academic qualifications and experience abroad but also income level, total work experience and criticality of skillsets.
At the same time, beyond connecting with employers, TalentCorp has begun collaborating with executive search firms to assist global Malaysians to connect back with opportunities in Malaysia.
Global Malaysians digital job board
Launched in September 2014, the online job board connects Malaysian professionals working overseas with leading employers keen to tap into their international experience and expertise.
Global Malaysians offers more than 250 mid to senior professional positions from over 45 companies covering key sectors of the economy, including:
Since 2011, more than 3,100 REP applications have been approved. In 2014 alone, TalentCorp approved REP for more than 600 global Malaysians with expertise in key sectors, particularly Finance, Oil & Gas, Electronics, Business Services and Healthcare.
“TalentCorp’s REP fast-track application works well to support our efforts to bring back top talent.” – Nora Manaf, senior executive vice president, head, group human capital Maybank
“Oil & Gas is a global business. Hence, we need world-class talent – highly productive, globally competitive Malaysians with global mindsets and complemented by top international talent.” – Lokman Baharuddin, director of human resources, ExxonMobil Subsidiaries of Malaysia
Name: Antony Fook Weng Lee
Company: AIG Malaysia Insurance Bhd
Years overseas: 12
On wanting to come back to Malaysia…
The main reason was work as well as family and friends. There was a great career opportunity, and at the same time, my mother was missing the family.
On making the journey back…
I heard about TalentCorp and applied. The whole process of getting my application approved was swift and before I knew it, my application had been approved.
On working overseas…
The most valuable thing was gaining a better understanding of cultural differences, which allowed me to communicate better. I believe it is important to be collaborative if we want to get the best out of any situation and to get things done.
On advice to Malaysians thinking of returning home…
I would absolutely encourage Malaysians to return. Malaysia has plenty of right job opportunities for those wanting to return home. My one piece of advice for returning Malaysians: be adaptable in both teaching and learning. Having a proactive and positive mindset is especially useful when coming from a larger, more developed economy or work environment.
TalentCorp works with multinationals like AIG to leverage on the REP towards facilitating the return of their Malaysian talent within their group, like Antony, who are working globally.
Name: Cheryl Yeoh
Company: Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC)
Years overseas: 12
On wanting to come back to Malaysia…
I often thought of contributing back to Malaysia, and wanted to take action rather than just talk about it. When I was approached by the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office for the position, it was the perfect opportunity to use my experience in Silicon Valley to help develop a start-up ecosystem.
On making the journey back…
It was not easy deciding to uproot my life in the United States (US). TalentCorp’s REP was instrumental in facilitating my return and the TalentCorp team processed my application quite efficiently.
On working abroad…
I started my company in New York, where the start-up scene blossomed within two to three short years and learnt first-hand how a successful ecosystem is built.
On the Malaysian start-up scene…
There is a real culmination of talent, passion from the community and desire to create successful global ventures, coupled with government support and the influx of private funds.
MaGIC has facilitated a number of Malaysian professionals abroad using the fast-track REP application process.
Breakfast with CEO
The Breakfast with CEO series, conceptualised by TalentCorp, has become a popular and much sought after platform for overseas Malaysian students to network and interact closely with leading industry players from top companies in Malaysia.
By including top employers in the Breakfast with CEO series, TalentCorp is raising awareness among young Malaysian talents abroad of the exciting career opportunities in key sectors of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) by providing key insights from leading corporate personalities.
Awareness: Overseas career fair
In March 2014, TalentCorp supported the United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC) and Graduan organised Malaysian Career Fair 2014 in London. Last year’s UKEC-GRADUAN fair – now in its 10th year – was staged to connect Malaysians studying in the UK with attractive career opportunities back in Malaysia.
A similar event, the GRADUAN-MASCA Australia Recruitment Drive 2014 was held in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia in September 2014.
Key fact: UKEC-GRADUAN Malaysian Career Fair 2014 attracted more than 4,000 Malaysian students. More than 40 leading Malaysian employers representing Malaysia’s various priority economic sectors participated at the career fair.
“We hope our top Malaysian talents join us in making Vision 2020 a reality.” – Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department
In addition to the overseas career fairs targeted mainly at Malaysian students studying abroad, in 2014 TalentCorp also supported selected professional outreach focused on key sectors such as Oli & Gas and Healthcare.
“To support our growth, private hospitals reach out to Malaysian medical specialists abroad as part of supplementing our future talent pipeline.” – Datuk Amir Firdaus Abdullah, CEO, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur
JPA Management Apprenticeship Programme (JPA-MAP)
Launched on Oct, 2014, JPA-MAP provides graduate JPA scholars with three-month structured apprenticeships with selected government-linked companies, statutories bodies and private sector companies. JPA-MAP helps scholars gain valuable experience in a professional work environment, and gives employers, or Host Organisations (HOs), an on-going talent pipeline.
During the apprenticeship, they are rotated to various departments within the HOs with the opportunity of being absorbed as permanent employees.
Scholarship Talent Attraction and Retention (STAR)
This is a high-impact joint initiative between the Public Service Department (JPA) and TalentCorp. In 2014, more than 1,000 Government-funded Malaysian scholars from overseas universities returned and served their bond of service by working in the private sector with leading employers in Malaysia.
The STAR programme enables Government scholars, among our top young talent to serve in the priority areas of Malaysia’s ETP and build their careers in National Key Economic Area (NKEA) sectors.
“The STAR initiative demonstrates our engagement with government-linked companies (GLCs) and the corporate sector in Malaysia in nurturing, developing and retaining our own talent to continue to serve the nation.” – Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal, director-general of Public Services Malaysia
“It is amazing how the STAR initiative enabled me to pursue my interest in engineering, while simultaneously contributing to the development of the country.” – Timothy Tam, AirAsia X
Name: Chia Li Ann
Education: Graduated in Earth Science from Rice University in Houston, Texas
Job: Currently under STAR serving bond, working as a sedimentologist at Shell Malaysia
Host company: First Solar in Kulim, Kedah
Li Ann’s STAR story
“My host company did very well in developing its management apprentices. On my first day, my supervisor took the time to explain the role of my department and each of its sub-teams, and asked me what I wanted to learn throughout my time there.
“There were already two main projects ready for me to join as soon as I got there, each exposing me to new or more advanced use of software.
“The most important attitude to have is the willingness to learn. If your first job isn’t something that you like, that’s fine. Learn what you can from it and make the best out of it. Your goals may shift due to the experiences you’ve had, so be open to new experiences. Just be willing to learn.”
3 things you need to know about Li Ann
- Father is an offshore technician while mother runs a kindergarten.
- She is the first overseas university graduate in her family.
- Her take on being a JPA scholar: “To all scholars abroad, what we’ve received or learnt is a privilege. What we need to take out from this is the responsibility to give back.”
Name: Akmal Hayat Jusoh
Education: Graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College, UK
Job: Currently under STAR serving bond, working as a customer quality engineer at Freescale Semiconductor
Host company: Jabil Circuit
Akmal’s STAR story
“It was the first time Jabil had a degree-holder apprentice. So I told them what I wanted to get from my three months of training there. My main aim was to increase my technical competency to equip myself with relevant working skillsets later on.
“I told my supervisor that I wanted to be treated like an engineer, not like a trainee. I then got more challenging tasks; studying the defects of products and coming out with containment actions. My learning curve increased exponentially once I was entrusted to do an engineer’s tasks.
“Upon starting my first job at Freescale Semiconductor, I realised how beneficial my experience at Jabil had been as most of the technical competencies I gained there was put into practice at my new job.
“I think it is important for apprentices and new hires to have a mind-set of challenging themselves, to be out of their comfort zones and to really get the most out of any training programme. If every trainee or new hire could think of how they can leave a legacy in their companies, they would learn so much and really develop their professional careers.”
3 things you need to know about Akmal
- Both parents are teachers.
- The eldest of five children, he is the first university graduate in the family and also the first to go overseas.
- His take on career development: “Don’t work for the sake of working only. Think of how you can leave a legacy at your working place.”
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Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 28 March 2015