High-tech sector urged to raise wages to attract skilled workers

Deputy minister highlights the need for competitive wages in high-tech industries.

FARAH SHAZWANI ALI
FARAH SHAZWANI ALI
30 May 2024 11:46am
Malaysia's semiconductor sector faces talent drain due to low wages. - Small photo: Chin Tong
Malaysia's semiconductor sector faces talent drain due to low wages. - Small photo: Chin Tong
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SHAH ALAM - Companies and key players in the high-tech sector need to offer higher salaries to skilled workers to address the long-standing shortage of local talent.

Investment, Trade, and Industry Deputy Minister Liew Chin Tong stressed that the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP) 2030 is crucial in achieving the goal of doubling the median manufacturing wage from RM2,205 per month in 2022 to RM4,510 per month by 2030.

To achieve this, the government strives to enhance the value chain in semiconductor activities and increase engineering salaries in the electrical and electronics sectors.

“We must acknowledge that low wages are a systemic issue leading to an insufficient number of skilled jobs.

"Malaysia is a rare case where the median monthly wage in manufacturing (RM2,205) is lower than the overall median monthly wage (RM2,424).

"According to the 2022 report by the Institution of Engineers Malaysia, more than a third of engineering graduates had starting salaries of less than RM2,000 per month as of 2021, while 90 per cent earned less than RM3,000 per month.

"For single adult households in Kuala Lumpur, this is hardly sufficient.

"The engineer-to-population ratio in Malaysia was 1:170 at the end of 2022, below the aspirational target of 1:100. Those who pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers often seek other forms of employment to supplement their income, such as gig work," he told Sinar recently.

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He said that NIMP 2030, launched on September 1, 2023, is expected to enhance Malaysia's achievements by increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value-added by RM587.5 billion with a Cumulative Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.5 percent by 2030.

NIMP 2030 is also expected to create 3.3 million job opportunities with a CAGR of 2.3 per cent and increase the median wage to RM4,510 compared to RM1,976 in the base year of 2021.

He emphasised that many Malaysian engineering graduates choose to work in Singapore, earning around S$2,800 to S$3,400 (RM9,750 to RM11,840) per month as entry-level engineers.

“This situation is detrimental to the country as Malaysia plays a crucial role in the global semiconductor supply chain, holding a seven percent market share globally and contributing to 23 per cent of the United States' semiconductor trade in 2022.

“Malaysia is known for its excellence in chip assembly, packaging, testing, and plans to expand its presence in activities such as integrated circuit design and wafer fabrication,” he said.

He added that the semiconductor industry falls under the Malaysia Investment Development Authority, a government agency responsible for promoting investment.

INFO:

NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL MASTER PLAN 2030 (NIMP 2030)

  • Launched on September 1, 2023
  • A comprehensive industrial policy aimed at fostering growth and advancement in Malaysia's manufacturing and industrial service sectors.
  • Increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value-added by RM587.5 billion with a Cumulative Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.5 percent by 2030.
  • Contributes to the creation of 3.3 million job opportunities with a CAGR of 2.3 percent.
  • Increase in median wage to RM4,510 compared to RM1,976 in the base year 2021.

INFO:

  • Monthly median wage in manufacturing: RM2,205
  • Overall median monthly wage: RM2,424
  • Engineer-to-population ratio in Malaysia: 1:170 (target: 1:100)