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In 2016, the average monthly salary of an ICT professional in Malaysia increased to RM8,484 from RM8,114 in 2015 – a growth rate of 4.6%.
This year, on the back of a better-than-expected performance of the economy, the National ICT Association of Malaysia’s (PIKOM) new report projected salaries to increase even further, to RM9,000 – an increase of 6.7% over 2016, and twice the average monthly salary in 2007.
According to PIKOM’s ICT Job Market Outlook In Malaysia 2017 report, the total ICT value in Malaysia is estimated to be about RM164 billion in 2016 based on the average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 7.6% for the period 2010-2015. PIKOM also projected the overall share of the ICT industry to the economy in 2016 would be about 18.2% from 17.8% in 2015, with the main driver of the of the ICT industry growth continuing to be ICT Services.
PIKOM chairman Chin Chee Seong noted that the ICT developments, including the launch of the Digital Free Trade Zone, during the first half of this year will have significant impact on the growth and success of the industry. Based on the year-on-year GDP growth of 5.6% in the first quarter of 2017, PIKOM is cautiously optimistic that the economy will improve further this year.
“We are revising our earlier projection of 4% for the GDP growth in 2017 to 5% based on improved performance in the domestic demand sector and in most economic sectors,” he added.
Malaysia’s ICT salary trends
While salaries for ICT professionals across the board rose in 2016, the growth rates in most categories were lower than expected.
Senior and mid-level managers registered the highest salary increase in 2016, at 6.3% and 4.4% respectively.
At the same time, senior and mid-level managers registered the highest projected salary increase in 2017 at 6.9% and 7.6% respectively.
The highest paying sectors for ICT professionals in 2016 included the automotive/heavy industry/machinery industries, with an average monthly salary of RM8,952.
This was followed by the call centre/IT enabled services/BPO industries at RM8,822; the transport/storage/freight/shipping industries at RM8,791; the science and technology/aerospace/biotechnology industries at RM8,760; and the computer/IT (hardware) industries at RM8,397.
Worryingly, the report noted a widening salary gap between entry level professionals and professionals in the four other categories – especially the senior manager category.
In 2016, the salary of a senior manager was 6.44 times more than the salary of an entry level ICT professional and the gap is expected to be higher at 6.61 in 2017.
When benchmarked against APAC, United States and Middle East, Malaysia continues to lag in terms of salaries.
The Purchasing Power Parity Adjusted Criterion benchmarking scale showed that the salary of an IT Project Manager in Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Saudi Arabia and United States was 1.8, 1.55, 1.46, 1.38 and 1.3 times more respectively than the IT Project Manager in Malaysia.
“Although Malaysia is higher than some of the developed countries in the world, we are still only at the halfway point in this scale and threat of brain drain is still there”, added Woon.
Almost 40% drop in ICT job openings from 2015 to 2016
The report noted that in 2016, there were 11,227 job openings for ICT professionals, a drop of almost 40% compared to the 18,249 jobs offered in 2015. The entry level job category experienced the biggest decrease at almost 60%.
Of the 11,227 job openings in 2016, a third came from the computer/IT (software) industries. Almost 80% of all job openings were available ICT professionals in the junior executive and senior executive job categories.
“Given a low year-on-year growth between 2015 and 2016, these findings are to be expected. The challenging economic climate in 2016 has certainly influenced the hiring decisions for ICT professionals,” PIKOM Research Committee chair Woon Tai Hai added.
Photo / 123RF