When it comes to entering the workforce, it’s all about meeting the right demand. After all, the growing number of graduates means that having the right degree is no longer enough.
But how can you know which field is alive (and screaming for more workers) and which field is not looking to expand? What are the specific skills you need to make sure that you (and not the hundreds of other graduates with the same degree as you) are chosen for the job?
You can start by taking a look at TalentCorp Malaysia’s Critical Occupation List (COL) 2020 / 2021.
Not a fan of trudging through pages after pages of data? It’s okay. We’ll do it for you. Here’s a summary of the hottest fields in Malaysia.
#1. Computer Science
Thanks to the advancement of technology, computer science remains a popular field in terms of job demands. Even with the influx of computer science graduates, there is still a strong call for more to fill in computing roles in various sectors.
One of the reasons is due to the imbalance between supply and demand. Jobs like application developer, blockchain developer and mobile application developer are popular across various fields, leading to intense competition between industries as they all try to hire from a limited talent pool.
Aside from that, the rise of digitalisation has also created a need for more cybersecurity specialists. This is particularly apparent in the financial technology and digital banking sectors.
One issue that contributes to this demand is the lack of certified computing professionals. While most companies merely require candidates to possess a Degree in Computer Science, IT or Software Engineering, some do demand professional certifications in specific fields.
#2. Game Design and Development
A subset of computer science, game design and development is slowly spreading its roots in Malaysia. This leads to its surprise appearance on the latest list.
Vacancies for this field, particularly for game programmers, is largely driven by the increasing investments into the creative multimedia industry. More and more major game development studios are opening a branch locally, leading to a call for more local graduates who can work in the field.
#3. Data Science
Another new up-and-coming field to take note of is the data science field. According to the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the rise in the digital economy, the move towards digitalisation and the boom of e-commerce are some of the reasons for the sudden influx in demand for data professionals.
The lack of data talent is not exclusive to Malaysia. TalentCorp has noted a shortage of data professionals globally. Even as this industry grows, there is still a lack of talent with sufficient technical knowledge who can work in the field. So if you’re interested in this industry, make sure to master as many technical skills as possible.
#4. Creative Multimedia (Graphic Design, Animation and Multimedia Design)
The increasing investment in the creative multimedia field has also led to an increase in demand for creative multimedia professionals. Among some of the most critical jobs in this sector are 3D animators, 2D animators, CG modellers and 3D modellers.
Aside from that, graphic designers with a flair for storytelling are also highly sought after as companies look towards marketing their businesses and services through eye-catching graphics and multimedia.
According to employers, multimedia graduates must come equipped with knowledge in various design and creative principles including knowledge of graphic design, branding design and marketing materials. As the field also encompasses many industries, specifically business and computer science, technical knowledge in these fields can improve employability.
The role of mathematics in the workplace is not to be underestimated. While actuarial science may come across as a niche field — and thus, provide little employment opportunities — the call for more graduates in this field is big enough to warrant its place in this list.
A consultation with the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) reported that the demand mostly comes from the fact that the job typically requires the applicant to have at least 3 years of work experience. This heavily impacts the hiring process as not many graduates can meet this criteria. To solve this issue, the industry seeks to invest more in training and development.
Medicine is a popular field in Malaysia. But even with the growing number of medical graduates, there is still a notable shortage of medical specialists.
According to the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM), there is a particularly big gap between supply and demand for several specialisations, which include oncology and neurology. The Director-General of the Malaysia Health Ministry has also highlighted a lack of registered anaesthesiologists and intensivists.
Additionally, there’s also a scarcity of nurses. To be more specific, there are not enough nurses specialising in intensive care unit (ICU). There’s also a general lack of post-basic trained nurses and operating theatre nurses.
You can pursue nursing as a career with a diploma. However, if you want to become a medical specialist, you’ll need to invest more time as it requires an additional postgraduate qualification and extensive practical experience, on top of a certified MBBS degree.
Textile, pharmaceutical and manufacturing are some of the many industries in Malaysia that are feeling the effects of the shortage of chemists. And this is partly due to a lack of specialist chemists.
The Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM) has revealed that there’s a lack of talents that have proficiency in chemical manufacturing. The Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association has also reported a deficiency in chemists specialising in the textile field.
As a result, employers have to resort to hiring expatriates to fill in this gap.
Safety in the workplace is of utmost importance. As such, having a certified safety officer at the workplace is a must.
But Malaysia is unfortunately suffering from a lack of applicants for this job. This leads to a demand for certified health and safety officers, particularly in the manufacturing and theme park operator sectors.
While the academic requirement for these roles is low (most employers accept those with qualifications from SPM and above), you will still need to get a certification from the relevant official bodies. Specifically, health and safety officers must be certified by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, while environmental officers need to be certified by the Department of Environment.
Even with the abundance of business graduates, many sectors are still struggling to find talents for roles such as business manager, marketing manager and finance manager. This could be due to the fact that these graduates still lack the experience and necessary technical knowledge.
For example, employers are reportedly facing problems hiring sales and marketing managers since most applicants do not come equipped with keen product knowledge of the industry. Creativity is also another issue. The Malaysian Association of Themepark & Family Attractions (MATFA) has voiced out a lack of marketing graduates who possess the creativity needed for the role.
While business acumen is important, it’s not enough. If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in business, you should consider seeking additional certifications and gaining more experience that’s relevant to the industry of your interest.
#10. Finance and Accounting
The lack of certification is all the more obvious for the finance and accounting field. In fact, having a degree alone is not enough — employers want more.
Many of the in-demand jobs in finance and accounting require professional certifications such as CFA, ACCA and CIMA. According to the Association of Islamic Banking and Financial Institutions Malaysia (AIBIM), wealth consultants need to be licensed by the Federation of Investment Managers (FIMM) and the Securities Industry Development Corporation (SIDC). And not enough applicants are meeting these demands.
Based on a consultation with LIAM, hiring for this field is also suffering due to the specific demand for accountants with knowledge in financial reporting standards (FRS), a skill that is mostly absent in the existing talent pool. In some cases, applicants are also required to possess a minimum of a master’s degree with inter-field experience, i.e. Risk Management.
While its popularity has waned compared to the previous year’s list, engineering is still nonetheless a popular field.
According to TalentCorp, the demand for engineers is still going strong with employers on the lookout for certified engineers with specialised skills. While there are plenty of civil engineers, a lot of them do not have the necessary experience in addressing specific engineering requirements. This leads to a rush of demand for specialised engineers such as geotechnical engineers, hydraulic engineers and structural engineers.
Certain industries also require specific certifications to work in the industry (e.g. steam engineers must be certified by the authorised body). Companies are currently struggling to find talents that can meet this requirement.
You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to work as an engineering professional. But even lower-level technical engineering jobs are suffering from a lack of talent. So those with lower qualifications can still go for roles such as manufacturing supervisors, construction supervisors, mechanics and technicians.
Even in the age of automated replies and bot customer service, the need for human communicators is still there. Specifically, there’s an ongoing demand for more talent in the advertising, social media and public relations sectors.
One of the issues plaguing talents in this field is the lack of knowledge in the latest digital marketing technologies and trends. Applicants must possess a good understanding of how digital marketing works due to the increasing digitalisation of business and services. And while newer graduates may not face this particular issue, the problem then comes from them not having the business acumen due to their lack of experience.
Aside from that, most applicants also suffer from insufficient language skills, lack of industrial knowledge and required credentials. This affects their ability to communicate the company’s core businesses and services, which in turn causes them to lose out on roles.
As you can see, a lot of the issue comes from the incompatibility between the talents’ skills (or lack of) and the required skills. Employers need workers with industry-specific knowledge and skills and many graduates are only equipped with the basic skills.
As such, you should consider going for extra training and accreditations. It’s a tough world out there. And with the growing number of graduates, it’s only going to get tougher. So differentiating yourself by acquiring more critical skills can mean a world of difference.