In a recent survey on Malaysia’s labour market by, 59% of 5,300 SME decision makers admitted to struggling to find enough good staff. A total of 31% of respondents were neutral to the issue, while less than one in 10 (9%) said this is not a challenge.

Given the current unemployment rate of 3.4% is at its highest since November 2013, and with over 500,000 job seekers, it's surprising that such a large percentage of companies struggle to find staff.

The government seeks to increase the number of skilled workers from the current 31% to 35% as part of the Malaysia 2020 plan.

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In another survey, also by, the majority of SME decision makers expressed a negative view of the Malaysian economy over the next three years (47%). Just 14% of three-year perceptions were in the positive range, while 38% preferred to sit this question out.

Views were much more positive when asked over a longer term period, where 36% had a positive outlook, compared to 27% of respondents with a negative outlook.

Toine Vaessen, COO of, opines that SME owners believe the nation is going through a rough patch before better times return. "Fundamentals of a strong Malaysian economy are still in place - stability, diversity, and vitality. GDP growth is currently hitting the low fours, and SME decision-makers expect us to get back to the sixes in coming years."

Malaysia’s GDP registered a growth of 4% in Q2 2016, compared to 4.9% in the same quarter last year1. Economist expects next year’s growth to be around 4.5%, according to World Bank June 2016.

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