CEO Morning Brief

Import Foreign Talent to Address Malaysia’s E&E Brain Drain, Says MSIA Chief

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Publish date: Thu, 30 May 2024, 10:19 AM
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TheEdge CEO Morning Brief
Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai (Photo by Zahid Izzani/The Edge)

KUALA LUMPUR (May 29): To succeed in the artificial intelligence (AI) boom era, Malaysia must be open to attracting talent from around the world to make the country a regional electrical and electronics (E&E) powerhouse, said industry veteran Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai.

To solve the brain drain issue faced by the industry, the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association president said a short-term solution is to import foreign talent.

“US top companies are using foreign talent to help them be successful in development and so on, by having between 70% and 90% of their engineers, [being] foreigners, starting from study and eventually getting permanent resident status. Can we emulate the same models and encourage these top talents to study and get them to work [in Malaysia] and help us grow?

“Singapore is doing the same thing as many other countries. If Malaysia can do this, we can win some of the projects and we will create more jobs,” he said in an industry forum on Wednesday.

Malaysia risk losing market share without foreign talent

SkyeChip Sdn Bhd founder cum chief executive officer Fong Swee Kiang shared the same sentiment, saying Malaysia needs attract global talent to address the brain drain issue.

According to Fong, revenue in the semiconductor industry is expected to grow from half a trillion US dollar to US$1 trillion (RM4.7 trillion) in ten years amid the AI boom, and the backbone to participate in this growth is talent.

“We need to participate in that growth, otherwise, 30% of the semiconductor backend is coming from Malaysia and if we are not participating and new players emerge, our export will be cut by half. That is a harsh reality we have to face,” Fong said.

“Like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia and surrounding countries have a lot of engineers, but they may have no opportunities to do IC design. We can provide them with a conducive immigration policy that allows talent to flow into Malaysia,” he added.

Fong also called on more Malaysian engineers with experience to start companies and contribute to growing the industry.

“Intel has produced very good engineers, some of them choose to stay and contribute to the multinational companies (MNC). It's nothing wrong, but some should come out and contribute to make MNC asset into Malaysian asset and help the country chart [its path] forward,” he said, speaking from experience, having founded SkyeChip after working with Intel for over three decades.

Source: TheEdge - 30 May 2024

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