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IT, engineering, and HR: Top 3 business-critical roles cited by Malaysian firms surveyed

IT, engineering, and HR: Top 3 business-critical roles cited by Malaysian firms surveyed

A majority of these companies (90.16%) are also focusing their upskilling and reskilling efforts on their team leaders, with skills such as leadership, team management, and crisis communication, the key attributes required.

A majority of companies (90.16%) recently surveyed in Malaysia are focusing their upskilling and reskilling efforts on their team leaders, a new whitepaper has noted.

According to the whitepaper released by Aisling Group and Leaderonomics, titled Companies Thriving During the Pandemic: Most in-demand talent and skills during an unprecedented time, this could be due to team leaders needing to lead their teams towards survival following the impact of the pandemic. 

The finding also aligns with another point highlighted in the report — that leadership skills, team management, crisis communication, and soft skills have emerged as crucial attributes in ensuring business continuity.

Apart from team leaders, junior executives were also a key target for upskilling and reskilling (81.97%), followed by mid-level managers (78.69%), entry-level employees (54.1%), and C-suite executives (31.15%).

According to the survey, junior executives may have been a key target for skills such as problem-solving skills, creativity, technical skills related to the industry, and tech readiness. Moreover, these roles are more often expected to learn on-the-job than being sent for formal training, it was noted.

Most sought-after talent roles in challenging times

IT, engineering, and HR - these were the top three roles identified to be business-critical, the whitepaper revealed.

In particular, 12.3% of respondents indicated IT, 9.3% indicated engineering, and 8.6% indicated HR.

  • Some of the examples that formed these themes were:
    • IT: Information technology, software development
    • Engineering: Software engineering, engineering
    • HR: Human resources, employee motivation/engagement, long term
      vision/strategy, talent acquisition

In the same vein, the survey also identified the top five areas companies are looking to invest in talent upskilling and reskilling - IT (31.8%), soft skills (20%), business and supply chain (12.9%), and analytics (8.2%).

Most crucial skills identified by companies surveyed in Malaysia

On the topic of crucial skills, based on the overall responses received, the top five skills that respondents consider as crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic are:

  1. Problem-solving (75.41%)
  2. Mental wellness (60.66%)
  3. Innovation (57.38%)
  4. Project management skills (55.74%)
  5. Tech readiness (52.46%)

"These skills point to the immediate need for businesses to solve problems that have risen during the pandemic, according to the industries that are heavily impacted," the whitepaper highlighted.

"However, the general trend for organisations to focus on these skills may have been prevalent pre-COVID and become a more prominent need during the crisis."

Meanwhile, other skills such as process improvement & implementation (37.70%), data analysis (49.18%), technological savviness (42.62%), digital forms of conducting work (44.26%), technical skills related to the industry (52.46%), and creativity (44.26%) were also relatively crucial during the pandemic as respondents strived to generate more revenue; reduce cost, and increase productivity and effectiveness while maintaining work-from-home (WFH) policies.

While on the lower end of the scale, one set of skills also stood out - boundary management, with 9.84% of respondents identifying it as crucial. This, the whitepaper noted, may have been a result of extended WFH arrangements, in cases where companies did not have a clear boundary management policy prior to the pandemic.

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Most common ways employers in Malaysia are upskilling and reskilling their workforce

Per the responses, on-the-job learning emerged as the most common form of upskilling and reskilling, with close to nine in 10 (86.89%) of employers leveraging it.

This was followed closely by online training (85.25%), online learning platforms (60.66%), internal mentoring
(59.02%), webinars (57.38%), and coaching (54.10%).


The survey involved 61 selected respondents in the HR space, working in various organisations from information technology, manufacturing and electronics, and banking & financial services, among others.

Around 32.79% of respondents had 150 to 1,000 employees in their companies at the time of the survey; 27.87% had more than 1,000 employees; 18.03% had 25 to 100 employees; 14.75% had 100 to 250 employees, and 6.56% had 25 employees and below.

Photo /123RF

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