Malaysia remains attractive destination for foreign talent

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is seen as an attractive location in attracting foreign talent as the government’s aim of achieving high-income status is well-publicised, along with its foreigner-friendly policies.

According to mobility solutions provider ECA International associate director for Asia, Mark Harrison, the country was on par with others in the region in terms of policies implemented to attract foreign skilled labour and the government had taken proactive steps to help see it through.

“Malaysia is part of the Asean Economic Community, which aims to facilitate the easier movement of people within the community, amongst other goals.

“Our Labour Law team notes that changes will happen over the next few years as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comes into place,” he told Bernama in an email interview.

Harrison said government policies and labour laws may need to be updated to reflect the terms of the CPTPP and be brought in line with other countries in the partnership.

He pointed out that Malaysia’s policies could make a difference in attracting and retaining employees, particularly as other countries such as Singapore had tightened immigration requirements.

Policies such as the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ and Resident Pass is certainly a positive step, but attracting and retaining foreign talent also depends, on the type Malaysia wishes to recruit, said Harrison.

“Senior employees rarely face difficulties in securing visas when relocated by their companies, as they easily qualify to work in most locations.The companies will usually make the relevant arrangements for them.

“The same cannot be said for junior employees, especially those who are relocating out on their own choice, rather than being assigned,” he added.

Harrison said foreign employees tend to be high earners and as such, if foreign manpower policies are handled correctly, it should not result in companies indiscriminately bringing in foreign workers for jobs which could be handled by locals. He also said foreign manpower should be part of an overall strategy to shift the economy from manufacturing and other lower-paid work towards a more service-based economy.

“Bringing in foreign employees who have experience in more developed markets should help to train local employees and guide companies in the host country as they make this transition,” he added.

Meanwhile, Harrison pointed out the drawbacks of high crime rates and pollution levels, saying the safety of employees and their families will always be the most important factor.

“Malaysia is however, perceived as an attractive location due to the work-life balance and the general quality of life, supported by the lower cost of living, housing, and international schools, compared to other locations, including Singapore and Hong Kong,” he said. — Bernama

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