Virginia, US
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| Sasha Reddy

Why Malaysia is a Top Talent Destination

With Malaysia’s continuous economic growth, specifically through the launch of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in September 2010, Malaysia has been recognised as a world-class destination for foreign talent and is ranked by the World Bank in its “Doing Business 2015” report as the top 20 globally “ease of doing business” destinations, coming ahead of Switzerland, UAE, Japan and France, to name only a few. The ETP focuses on the implementation of 12 National Key Economic Areas which are significant areas in promoting and strengthening the economic stability of Malaysia.

In line with the above, the mammoth growth of multinational corporations (MNCs) and the establishment of foreign businesses in Malaysia has resulted in a massive increase in job opportunities across various industries. The professional opportunities available in Malaysia are certainly an attraction for foreign talent to move to Malaysia. Malaysia also recognises the value and contribution of foreign talent and several programmes have been implemented towards achieving the goal as setting Malaysia as the top destination for foreign talent.

(1) Establishment of Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (Talent Corp)

Talent Corp was established on 1 January 2011 under the Prime Minister’s Department to attract and retain foreign talent. Talent Corp collaborates with the Immigration Department of Malaysia to streamline and enhance immigration service delivery for expatriates. One of the facilities introduced in 2011 was the Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T), which is a 10-year renewable pass for highly qualified expatriates to continue to reside and work in Malaysia. The RP-T offers expatriates an attractive range of benefits such as the flexibility to change employers without having to obtain a new work pass and facilities for dependants to work and study in Malaysia.

(2) Introduction of Malaysia Expatriate Talent Service Centre (MYXpats Centre)

A new processing division to bring faster processing of work pass and related applications was introduced on 1 June 2015, called the MYXpats Centre. With the introduction of the MYXpats Centre, which is a joint initiative between Talent Corp and the Immigration Department of Malaysia, the related immigration processes to facilitate foreign talent in Malaysia have improved significantly. Employers sponsoring work pass applications can benefit from consistent five-day processing time of Employment Pass applications and other related applications. The overall immigration service has also been enhanced with the establishment of the Help Desk at MYXpats Centre, which can be easily accessed for any immigration related queries. The Help Desk has also been prompt in issuing notices of closure/disruption of service during festive season which helps in managing expectations of employers and their business needs.

(3) A new classification of Employment Pass (Employment Pass Category III)

As of 15 July 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced a new category of work pass, the Employment Pass (Category III). Foreign nationals whose Malaysia work contracts do not exceed twelve months and whose monthly basis salaries range from MYR 2500.00 to MYR 4999.99 are eligible to apply under this category of work pass. This is significantly less than the current minimum salary requirement for a standard Employment Pass application, which is MYR 5000.00. Employers seeking to hire foreign nationals under this category will, however need to obtain an exemption from the minimum salary requirement of MYR 5000.00 from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Malaysia. The implementation of Employment Pass (Category III) is a platform for employers to hire short-term foreign nationals under a lower salary than the standard Employment Pass.

(4) International Students Mobility Programme under a Social Visit Pass

Importance is also placed in attracting international students to Malaysia. The International Student Mobility Programme was implemented to attract companies registered with the Expatriate Services Division that intend to undertake short-term placements of international students within their company. The programme allows international students pursuing a degree or equivalent certification from a recognized university or institution outside of Malaysia to participate in activities such as student exchanges, industrial or practical training, internships, mentorships and other similar programmes at the sponsoring company’s offices in Malaysia.

Other factors such as cultural diversity, stability, geographical advantages, healthcare, education, and infrastructure have also made Malaysia a top talent destination. Based on these various factors, Kuala Lumpur has also been voted among the top 100 most liveable countries in the world in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2014 Global Liveability Ranking.

5. Returning Expert Programme 

The Government of Malaysia also appreciates the significant contribution its citizens can offer towards the growth of the country’s economic, political and social development from their own experiences abroad. It recognises that these contributions can be more effective and beneficial if the knowledge, experience, contacts and intercultural abilities citizens have gained abroad can be applied in Malaysia. Therefore, the Returning Expert Programme which was originally introduced in 2001 and is now under the purview of Talent Corp, aims at encouraging and facilitating Malaysians abroad with expertise in selected priority sectors to return and work in Malaysia. The objective of this programme is to allow them to contribute their skills and experience towards the development of the country. This programme offers attractive living and financial incentives and is also intended to help overcome the shortage of professional and technical experts in the country by creating a world-class workforce in Malaysia.

The above-mentioned initiatives are expected to attract foreign talent to Malaysia to support the economic growth in Malaysia by streamlining immigration rules and procedures which will then result in substantial contributions to Malaysia’s economic performance and growth in human capital.

Learn more about our practice in Malaysia.