Malaysian ICT salaries trail SEA region again

July 11, 201312:58 pm1946 views
  • Vietnam emerges as the new powerhouse in SEA for ICT salaries, followed by Singapore and Thailand
  • Average salaries for Malaysian ICT professionals on the rise; fresh graduates can also expect more

For the second year running, data revealed by the national ICT association Pikom’s ICT Job Market Outlook for Malaysia suggest that other countries within South-East Asia are offering better salaries than Malaysia.

At a recent media briefing to present the findings of its job market outlook, Pikom chairman Woon Tai Hai acknowledged that Malaysia continues to slip further in terms of job attractiveness compared with Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, all of which offer better salaries to qualified ICT professionals.

The ICT Job Market Outlook study is an annual report produced by Pikom and is conducted in collaboration with recruitment portal, which provided the salary data, and KPMG, which analysed the data in the report. All data cited in the report is based on actual salaries paid to ICT professionals and not on surveys, the association said.

The 2013 results reflect similar findings in the same report for 2012, which noted that Malaysia’s northern and southern neighbours, Thailand and Singapore, offered better salaries to ICT professionals.

In the analysis last year, Pikom used a rudimentary method to compare the salaries of various countries in and around the region.

In revealing the salary figures for 2012, Woon (pic) had then said that the Malaysian salary data was first converted from its ringgit equivalent into the corresponding US dollar value, after which a direct comparison was then made between similar job categories in different countries around the region. An average salary figure for each category was then derived.

This year, Woon said Pikom, Jobstreet and KPMG went a step further and applied purchasing power parity (PPP) adjustments to the salary figures in a bid to take into account inflation rates and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.

With the PPP method applied, the salary data for ICT professionals working in SEA-based countries for 2013 were:

  • ICT jobs in Thailand paid 1.36 times better;
  • ​ICT jobs in Vietnam paid 1.87 times better; and
  • ICT jobs in the Philippines and Indonesia paid lower than that of Malaysia, at 0.44 times and 0.56 times, respectively.

Quizzed as to why Vietnam paid such high salaries, topping even Singapore, Woon said it was hard to guess but was quick to point to the possibility that ICT professionals are highly sought after in that nation currently.

“Vietnam is booming and there is a dearth of ICT professionals who can do the job there,” he said. “Many of these [ICT professionals] are likely expatriates who command very high salaries, and owing to this, the figures could be skewed in their favour.”

Asked what can be done to address such challenges, Woon said that unfortunately, this is a country-wide problem and not merely an [ICT] industry challenge.

“I believe that this is beyond just our [ICT] industry … if we were to do a survey on the banking industry, we may get the same issues highlighted. That said, highlighting these issues in our report is the first step towards addressing them.

“We have C-Level executives who are in our [Pikom] council and they already know these issues. This is a structural problem and what we can do as an industry body is to highlight this over and over again.

“We’re also engaging CIOs (chief information officers), advising them that they may be losing talent because of this and have urged them to pay commensurately when hiring ICT professionals,” he added.

Average salary increase

Besides the regional salary benchmarking data, Pikom also highlighted the overall average increase in ICT salaries from RM6,240 in 2011 to RM6,782 in 2012, a rise of 8.7%.

The average entry-level salary for fresh graduates continued to grow from RM2,238 to RM2,343, or a marginal increase of 4.7%.

[RM1 = US$0.31]

Woon said looking at a five-year trend, it appears that sales, marketing and business development continue to be highly sought after jobs, while customer service jobs seem to be losing their shine as the hottest jobs in the country.

The survey results also indicate that ICT professionals in the technical domain who are equipped with Java, C#, C++, Microsoft’s dotNet, SharePoint, as well as web application development are in high demand, he added.

The Pikom report also noted that within the business applications domain, the demand for ICT professionals vary greatly.

“Though demand for certified professionals in SAP or ERP (enterprise resource planning) are at an all-time high, professionals specialising in IT audit and IT security are increasing, especially when professionals are needed to fend off malware makers and cyber thieves,” the report read.

In addition, organisations shifting towards cloud computing are spurring the need for infrastructure professionals, the report noted.

It said that big data analytics is also a fast growing job area, especially in big companies desiring to extract insights from their petabytes of stored data.

“The best candidates for big data analytics jobs are those equipped with inter-disciplinary knowledge and experience pertaining not only to technical know-how but also with a strong statistical/ mathematical background.

“Similarly, demand for mobile application developers and user interface designers who can develop user-friendly and versatile applications are also on the rise,” the report said.

Other findings

Meanwhile, the Pikom ICT Job Market Outlook also revealed:

  • The salary increment in all ICT job categories except the senior manager category was not very encouraging. The worst hit were ICT junior executives, who received only a 1.5% pay rise on an average between 2011 and 2012. Senior managers in the ICT sector in 2012 experienced an average pay rise of 11.6%, which is an increase from RM12,588 in 2011 to RM14,044.
  • Employment size matters in determining the average monthly salary of employees as large corporations or multinationals tend to pay higher than smaller ones.
  • Comparing against the smallest sized companies in the one-to-nine employees category, which is taken as the baseline, the median salary paid by companies with more than 2,000 employees was 1.88 times more.
  • ICT professionals working in Kuala Lumpur and Cyberjaya tend to earn 1.75 times higher than their counterparts working in smaller locations like Ipoh. Even within the Klang Valley, the disparity in the salary is quite distinct, where the average median salary of ICT professionals in Petaling Jaya or Shah Alam tends to be lower than their counterparts in the capital.
  • Despite gender equality, the salary data interestingly revealed that male ICT professionals tend to earn a median salary of RM5,201, while females earned a median salary of only RM3,855, which works out to a 35% difference.



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