The average monthly salary of an ICT professional in Malaysia grew from RM7,706 in 2014 to RM8,114 in 2015, an increase of 5.3%.
In comparison, an IT project manager in Malaysia earned more than their counterparts in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and India but much less than the ones in United States, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.
In 2016, a 4.7% increase is projected, pegged at RM8,496 - the lowest growth rate in eight years. These findings are from a new report by National ICT Association of Malaysia (PIKOM), in collaboration with Jobstreet.com.
The report noted Malaysia's ICT sector has showed resilience, in the light of challenging economic factors, such as the slowdown of the economy, the drop in the prices of crude oil and commodities, the depreciation of the Ringgit, and the implementation of the GST.
The total ICT value in Malaysia for 2015 is estimated to be RM155.2 billion, based on the average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 8% for the period 2010-2015. The share of the ICT industry to the economy expanded from 16.5% in 2010 to 17.6% in 2015.
The main driver of the ICT industry growth is the ICT services sub-sector whose share to the GDP rose from 3.3% in 2000 to 6.6% in 2015 and is projected to reach 7% by the end of 2016.
PIKOM chairman Chin Chee Seong said: "While ICT manufacturing sub-sector has been slowing, the ICT services sub-sector has been experiencing positive growth in the last two decades."
ICT job market trends in Malaysia
Middle level as well as senior managers registered the highest salary increases in 2015, at 6.3% and 6.2% respectively. Fresh graduate saw a rise in entry pay of 4.7% over 2014.
Among sector-based salary for ICT professionals, the construction/building/engineering industries posted the highest AAGR of the average monthly salary of ICT professionals from 2009-2015 at 8.8%, followed by education (8.6%); automotive/heavy industry/machinery (8.5%) and electrical and electronics (8.5%).
Not surprisingly, the oil/gas/petroleum industry which has been experiencing a downturn, registered an AAGR of 4.7% over the same period and a 2.9% year-on-year growth in 2015. However, it was also amongst the top five paying industries by job category.
The other four are banking services; automotive/heavy industry/machinery; agriculture/plantation/aquaculture; and chemical/fertilisers/pesticides.
PIKOM research committee chair Woon Tai Hai, noted: "In the fresh graduates, senior executives and middle manager job categories, the oil, gas and petroleum was in the top five paying industries in 2015 posting an average monthly salary of RM2,984, RM8,291 and RM11,804 respectively," he added.
Retaining local talent still a challenge
When benchmarked against Asia, United States and Middle East, Malaysia continues to lag behind in terms of salaries, a key factor contributing to the brain drain in the ICT sector.
The Purchasing Power Parity Adjusted Criterion benchmarking scale in 2015 showed that the average monthly salary of an IT project manager at entry level in the United Arab Emirates and United States was respectively, 2.18 and 1.5 times more than in Malaysia.
The average monthly salary of an entry level IT project manager, in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore, was 1.95 times, 1.88 times and 1.38 times, respectively, more than in Malaysia.
L-R: Simon Si of Jobstreet, PIKOM chairman Chin Cheee Seong, and PIKOM research committee chair Woon Tai Hai launching the results
Lead image: 123RF