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Malaysian job market: Paper qualification now less important but Mandarin skills a plus

Publish date: Sun, 14 Apr 2024, 11:17 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Many employers are now less concerned about the level of formal education of their hires.

Instead, most of them are placing greater emphasis on factors like good work ethics, work experience, culture fit and the ability to learn in a way that promotes upward mobility.

Jobstreet by Seek Malaysia managing director Vic Sithasanan said that according to its Hiring Compensation and Benefits Report 2024, the most common form of career development was training or self-learning programmes, where 63 per cent of employers already provide in their respective companies.

"Given this, while some employers may view formal education as a criteria, many attach less significance to this as most of them provide the specific training needed to perform well in the company," he said.

Vic said another increasing demand by employers was for Mandarin-literate talents.

He said more job listings for mid-senior level employees now included a requirement or added plus points for Mandarin speakers.

"While English is the main language for communicating in the global marketplace, this varies when the role involves working with stakeholders who sit across different markets.

"For example, with a large influx of foreign direct investments in Malaysia, there has been a growing demand for Mandarin-literate talents," he said.

Malaysian Employers Federation president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said employers were moving towards a more holistic evaluation of candidates, considering a combination of formal education, practical skills and relevant experience.

"This approach aims to capture a more comprehensive view of a candidate's potential contributions to the organisation."

Syed Hussain echoed Vic's view on the growing importance of Mandarin proficiency, which is influenced by Malaysia's economic ties with countries, such as China.

"Malaysia is an international hub for multinational companies and many industries are seeking (job) candidates with proficiency in languages like Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and Arabic due to their expanding presence in the Malaysian job market.

"Companies dealing with international clients or with branches abroad often seek multilingual employees," he said.

Syed Hussain, however, stressed that English remained within the top five skills that employers look for when hiring.

"The industry-based needs take primary consideration in the picking process. As a result, there is a growing emphasis on the inclusion of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates in the pool of candidates considered for various job roles.

"This acknowledgement reflects the importance of a diverse set of educational pathways in preparing individuals for the demands of the modern workforce," he said.

Syed Hussain said candidates with TVET qualifications were often viewed favourably by employers, who appreciate the direct applicability of the skills acquired through TVET programmes.

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