According to PIKOM, ICT Industry in Malaysia Growing & Needs Top Qualified IT Professionals

Malaysia’s ICT Industry is Growing and Needs Well-Trained Professionals According to Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook

Pikom chairman Cheah Kok Hoong

Pikom chairman Cheah Kok Hoong

The Malaysian information and communications technology (ICT) industry may be hampered from growing further as it continues to be plagued by some complex and vital issues that could lead to the derailing of the nation’s ambitions, cautioned the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom).

Pikom chairman Cheah Kok Hoong (picture) said its latest ICT Job Market Outlook report has raised some pressing concerns, namely, the continuing brain drain experienced by Malaysian ICT professionals; the declining enrolment of computing science graduates at universities; and the unemployability amongst some of these graduates.

The study is an annual report produced and analysed by Pikom. This year’s study was conducted in collaboration with recruitment portal Jobstreet.com and PayScale Human Capital, which provided various salary data. The report is also supported by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).

All data cited in the report is based on actual salaries paid to ICT professionals and not based on surveys, the association said. The salary comparison in the report applied purchasing power parity (PPP) adjustments to the figures reported in a bid to take into account inflation rates and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, it added.

According to the report, countries in East Asia such as Vietnam and Hong Kong paid 2.19 and 2.12 times respectively higher than in Malaysia.

Other East Asian countries that topped Malaysia included China (1.93), Singapore (1.73), and Thailand (1.54), while western nations paid as follows: United States (1.9), Canada (1.44), Britain (1.40) Australia (1.52), New Zealand (1.64).

These figures suggest that ICT professionals are in great demand globally and in the region, and this situation is expected to contribute to the overall brain drain phenomenon experienced by the country, Pikom said.

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Lack of well trained ICT professionals in Malaysia

Being in Sabah made it difficult for me to survey the universities in Peninsula. I found EduSpiral online and they provided detailed information & helped me with my application. They even took me around the university for a tour when I went to visit. Xavier Phang, Software Engineering at Asia Pacific University

Being in Sabah made it difficult for me to survey the universities in Peninsula. I found EduSpiral online and they provided detailed information & helped me with my application. They even took me around the university for a tour when I went to visit.
Xavier Phang, Software Engineering at Asia Pacific University

The data this year points to further widening of salaries experienced by ICT professionals working abroad, confirming a trend that previous reports for 2012 and 2013 had highlighted.

Another key issue highlighted in this year’s report was the significant drop in students enrolling in ICT courses since 2002. Citing data obtained from the Ministry of Education, Pikom revealed that there were over 119,000 students enrolled in ICT courses, with the production of 53,000 graduates in 2002.

However by 2012, both figures fell drastically to 80,000 and 19,500 respectively. Some of the factors Pikom said contributed to this decline are:

The perception that the ICT industry does not offer a promising career, especially the disillusionment arising from the ‘dotcom bubble burst’ in the 2000s;

A lack of current knowledge about ICT trends, opportunities and career prospects amongst school teachers and counsellors, which further dampens student motivation to take up the course; and

The lack of professional certification and recognition within the ICT industry unlike what has been accorded to the medical, engineering and architectural professions.

On the demand side, the report also highlighted the lack of quality, competency and employability amongst ICT graduates as a crucial issue plaguing the industry.

Only 10 per cent of new entrants to the workforce are directly employable, while the remaining require re-training before they can fully undertake the work, the report noted.

Students need to choose to study at the best universities in Malaysia for IT or software engineering so that you can gain the necessary skills to succeed in the computing world.

 Hard to compete with

Speaking to the reporters at a media event announcing the findings of its report last week, Cheah said the trends seen in the latest report are worrying but was quick to add that Pikom and MDeC had begun taking steps a number of years ago to try and address these issues holistically.

Conceding that these are complex challenges, Cheah said, “If this [trend] continues, it can potentially impact the national agenda under the 10th Malaysia Plan, which aims to boost the percentage of skilled workers up to 33 per cent by 2015.”

Pikom research committee chairman Woon Tai Hai

Pikom research committee chairman Woon Tai Hai

Pikom research committee chairman Woon Tai Hai (picture) acknowledged that the brain drain phenomenon due to better salaries offered by countries globally and in the region is a difficult issue to combat, as there is nothing stopping qualified and skilled professionals to take offshore jobs.

Also the immediate past chairman of Pikom, Woon pointed out that Vietnam pays 2.19 times better than Malaysia and does so in US dollars, which he noted was something very difficult for Malaysian companies to offer.

However, Woon said there appeared to be a silver lining for the industry as this year’s study had shown that the average salary paid had increased by 7.2 per cent from RM6,673 in 2012 to RM7,152 in 2013.

With the upward trend and an expected stronger economic growth forecasted this year, Woon said he expects the average salaries paid in the country to further climb 1.5 percentage points to about 8.7 per cent in 2014.

“The imminent implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1, 2015 will also provide an impetus to the ICT industry as organisations ‘rush’ to replace and/ or upgrade their systems to be GST-compliant, resulting in a demand for software developers,” he claimed.

Addressing challenges in the ICT industry in Malaysia

Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah (picture), director of talent division, MDeC

Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah (picture), director of talent division, MDeC

Asked what can be done about the other two major challenges, namely the decline of the supply of graduates and the employability of local graduates, both Pikom officials conceded that they are serious and difficult, and will take time to overcome.

With regard to the lack of enrolment issue, Woon argued that today’s computer science disciplines are perhaps too generic with no differentiating factors between them.

“There are those who create technology, which has to do more with computer science and software engineering, and others who use IT to support their organisations, what some call ‘expert users.’

“Often employers cannot distinguish between skill sets of a computer scientist or a software engineer and these ‘information systems expert users’, he argued. “We are creating these different categories in the hope that employers can distinguish between the two so that the industry can recognise the different skill sets.”

Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah, director of talent division, MDeC, said another initiative the national ICT custodian has embarked on to address the supply deficiency is to create better awareness through its strategic initiative dubbed ‘ICT as a Career Choice.’

Speaking at the same media briefing, Imran said one of the biggest challenges [on the supply side] faced today has to do with

Jasmine Kaur, Asia Pacific University student, winning the International Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2013 – ‘Best of Tertiary Student Project’

Jasmine Kaur, Asia Pacific University student, winning the International Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2013 – ‘Best of Tertiary Student Project’

parents’ perception of what a computer science or ICT career is all about.

“If you look at the present environment, kids seem to be tech savvy and expert users of gadgets, but when you ask them if they are serious enough to pursue ICT as a career and become a creator of technology, they decline.

“Also, with parents, the stigma of the dotcom bust is still there, and they may not encourage their children to pursue ICT as a career,” he argued.

Imran said the ICT as a Career Choice programme is designed to permeate all schools – both primary and secondary – in a bid to raise the awareness of what ICT as a career could truly be.

“We have to address this at the school level as it’s too late for those already enrolled [in other courses] at universities.

To this end, we have created a career counselling kit to help teachers, especially school career counsellors, to advise students. This involves organising boot camps to ensure they have the right information,” he added.

Imran also revealed that Pikom and MDeC are working closely with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Association for Computing Machinery in a bid to streamline the curriculum and ensure that the industry’s expectation of fresh ICT graduates are met.

Currently, Pikom government affairs committee, headed by Dr Dzaharudin Mansor is coordinating these inititatives on behalf of

I had wanted to go to another university near my house for IT after my A-Levels. After consulting EduSpiral, I realised that I should choose the best university for IT so that I can gain the necessary knowledge and skills for a successful career in this competitive field. Kah Jun, Software Engineering at APU

I had wanted to go to another university near my house for IT after my A-Levels. After consulting EduSpiral, I realised that I should choose the best university for IT so that I can gain the necessary knowledge and skills for a successful career in this competitive field.
Kah Jun, Software Engineering at APU

Pikom.

“Universities struggle to refresh the curriculum fast enough as technology progresses too rapidly. This is where MDeC, Pikom and the industry can help by embedding ourselves into University curriculum boards to ensure they are up to speed,” he said.

Besides the concern of the employability of fresh graduates, there are also worries for graduate ICT professionals as demand for fresh graduates only constitute some 35 per cent of the total ICT professional in demand.

“There is a need to ensure continuing certification for graduate ICT professionals and this is where initiatives like the MyProCert can help,” Imran added.

Other findings of Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia

Meanwhile, Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook report also revealed that the gap is widening between lower and higher end job categories; from 2.75 times in 2011 to 2.83 times in 2012 and 2.92 times in 2013, while the salary growth for fresh graduates stands at 4.6 per cent in 2013.

Also, there is no significant difference in average salary between ICT Vendor and ICT end-user industries, except in the middle management where the difference is 11 per cent.

However, the salary in the managerial category still tends to record higher than in engineering/ technical lines. For example, IT Project managers earned an average salary of RM8,947 or 28.6 per cent higher than senior IT engineer at RM6,956.

Another key finding is that salary spreads between junior and senior positions continue to expand and that there is a big jump is apparent. Executives with one to four years, earn a median salary of RM3,069 while those with five to nine years’ experience come in at RM5,426.

Companies with employment size in excess of 2,000 paid an average salary of RM6,705, which is 1.88 times more than companies with size less than 10 persons, coming in at RM3,776 only.

Finally, the ‘hot’ ICT jobs are driven by the growing demand for big data analytics requiring inter-disciplinary skills in IT, numerical, statistical and business intelligence skills, and IT security continues to be in demand, driven by proliferations of cyber security incidents. — Digital News Asia

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Posted on May 21, 2015, in Career Choices, Choosing the right course, Computing & IT, Information Technology, IT Jobs, Job Outlook, Jobs with high salary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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