‘Enough time for M’sia to achieve 45% skilled workforce by 2020’

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KUALA LUMPUR: A span of six years is sufficient time for Malaysia to produce a 45% skilled talent pool in a bid to be a high-income nation by 2020, according to Kelly Services Malaysia. The human resource company expects Malaysia’s skilled talent pool to rise to 33% next year.

Managing director Kamal Karanth said the current skilled talent pool in Malaysia stood at 27% — far off from the target of 45%.

“We have six years to do that. It is enough if we execute well,” he told reporters yesterday, after presenting the Malaysia Salary Guide 2014/15 report.

“We have the infrastructure and the vehicles required to upskill people. We just have to ensure that we are providing them with the skills,” he said.

Noting the huge gap of skilled talent pool, Kamal said this is “going to be a long haul”.

He highlighted the mastery of the English language, deemed an “important component”, as a challenge, as the international language is used in business here and elsewhere around the globe.

But he said Malaysia has taken “huge steps” to upskill employees, in light of the initiatives the government has introduced over the last few years.

According to Kelly Services, the government had allocated RM330 million each year since 1986 for the skills training programme through the Skills Development Fund Corp. To date, approximately 1.3 million people had been trained in various fields. When asked if the minimum wage level in Malaysia is sufficient given the escalating cost of living, Kamal said it is not. “As we see in other countries too, obviously the minimum wage level is never enough. In my view, it is something the government puts as a ceiling,” he said.

Earlier in the presentation of the report, Kamal said salaries across industries in Malaysia have risen 10% on average in 2014/2015, from a year ago. He pointed out the highest spike was in the banking and finance sector, which posted wage rises of between 10% and 25%.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.