Making Progress Toward A More Inclusive Employment Landscape

It is inspiring to see the Government’s consistent efforts on enabling equal opportunities for marginalized communities to be a part of the nation’s workforce.

Making Progress Toward A More Inclusive Employment Landscape
Brian Sim, Managing Director and Country Head for PERSOLKELLY Malaysia

By Brian Sim, Managing Director and Country Head for PERSOLKELLY Malaysia

PERSOLKELLY Malaysia welcomes the 2023 National Budget themed “Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Bersama”. Certainly, the Government’s whole-of-nation approach to ensuring inclusive growth while building economic resilience is clear through the three key pillars of the Budget: Responsive, Responsible, and Reformist.

Empowering diversity in the workforce

It is inspiring to see the Government’s consistent efforts on enabling equal opportunities for marginalized communities to be a part of the nation’s workforce. This year, we also note that there are initiatives targeted to encourage women back to the workforce.

The emphasis to narrow the gender disparity across economic sectors is necessary and with the introduction of initiatives such as tax exemptions for women who are returning to work after a break, we are positive that this can help encourage them back to the workforce.

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On top of that, we applaud the Government’s approach to protecting the safety of women through the formation of an anti-sexual harassment tribunal, which we believe can contribute to their confidence in returning to work. Along with other women-centric initiatives, these are bold steps forward by our government to not only encourage more women to participate in the workforce but also boost employer motivation, thus ensuring that there is no gender discrimination when hiring talents.

Indeed, the support from the Government may be immediate but ultimately it falls onto the responsibility of both employer and employee to build a partnership that is sustainable beyond short-term incentives. This requires regular communication to address pain points and find solutions that benefit both parties in the long term. One such example would be for the organization to allow flexible work arrangements, especially for mothers who must juggle their careers and duties at home at the same time.

Similarly, we are pleased to see the Government’s consideration for differently-abled individuals. From offering incentives to boost their opportunities for employment to setting up dedicated funds for them, the Government’s effort to nurture inclusivity is evident. To further this commitment, we call on the Government to also support organizations with funding to build disabled-friendly facilities. While the incentives announced are good first steps, to ensure that differently-abled employees have access to a truly conducive environment at work, designated facilities are essential.

Building a “talented talent pool”

We are delighted to hear of the positive reception for the Malaysia Short-term Employment Programme (MySTEP) and the Government’s decision to extend the program in 2023. True enough, the pandemic has transformed not only the way we work but also how we view work. Along with the multiple initiatives that will be led by the Human Resource Development Corporation (HRD Corp), it is heartening to see how organizations and job seekers alike are coming together for a singular goal.

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We see that more and more people in the workforce are beginning to learn the importance of reskilling and upskilling, and having the Government and agencies like HRD Corp organize programs that the workforce can tap into to enhance their employability, certainly gives us a glimpse of the road ahead for Malaysians and Malaysia as a whole. We would also like to applaud the Government for taking into consideration of the different groups of the workforce and not limiting the Budget allocations to a specific group.

With the additional job placement centres announced, employees will also stand a higher chance to secure their dream careers. Coupled with the growing demand for talent as we revert to our pre-pandemic normal, employees will benefit from their enhanced skillsets that boost employability, while employers are more likely to find talents with the right skillsets that can address the headcount and skills gap at the organization.

One area of improvement that we would like to bring attention to is the need for a consistent and more in-depth outreach to employers on how best they can benefit from the many skilling programs available. While many employers are aware of the ongoing skilling initiatives, more guidance is needed on how they can leverage the programs, involve their employees, and revisit these initiatives on a regular basis.

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Going digital to realize ambitions

As part of the 2023 Budget, the Government announced the RM10 billion allocation by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to fund small medium enterprises (SMEs) for automation and digitalization, as well as the allocation for Cradle Fund to continue their support of entrepreneurs. This is encouraging as SMEs are the backbone of our economy but oftentimes have limited capacity to bring to life their ideas. With the additional funding and guidance, they can elevate their innovations and stand a better chance to compete.

By infusing technology, not only do entrepreneurs get to realize their ideas but also reach customers on a scale unlike anything before – possibly even bringing them to global platforms. We would like to applaud the Government for enabling such opportunities for local entrepreneurs and we trust that this not only helps SMEs to grow their businesses but will also build resilience for our nation’s digital economy.

Likewise, the many skilling initiatives announced by the Government today would ensure that more entrepreneurs have access to programs that can equip them with in-demand digital skills. Along with the investment into automation and digital infrastructure, having digital skills will enable the workforce to know how best to leverage digital tools to realize and even upscale their innovations. We urge local entrepreneurs, SMEs, and the workforce to take this opportunity to participate in these training programs to pick up new skills in keeping with the constantly evolving needs of the market.

Indeed, the 2023 National Budget reflects the Government's comprehensive efforts in shaping a sustainable future for the communities, businesses, and nation – reflecting the Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Bersama theme.

In the coming year, we will continue working closely with jobseekers, organizations, and Malaysia to help advance the nation’s recovery and build resilience for each and every one of us.