BY Pavither Sidhu
With the country’s economy showing no signs of immediate recovery in 2016, many employees in Malaysia are naturally becoming concerned about job security. Compounding this fear are recent horror stories about the massive cuts made by multinational oil and gas companies as well as by institutions in the finance sector.
According to Randstad Workmonitor Year-In-Review, the number of Malaysian professionals who have expressed fear of losing jobs has more than doubled since the fourth quarter in 2014.
Country manager for Randstad Malaysia Ryan Carroll said that with sustained volatility of global financial markets and weakening commodity prices, the Ministry of Finance has forecasted in their 2015/2016 Economic Report that gross domestic product growth in 2016 will decrease year on year.
This expected slowing of the economy has not only given local workers the jitters, it could also pressure incoming talent to look for greener pastures in external job markets, further amplifying a “brain drain” situation the country has been coping with since the turn of the century.
The construction and development industry, for one, has already voiced out their concerns regarding this, as the past decade has shown that many promising graduates – particularly in the fields of architecture and engineering – have chosen to pursue careers overseas. Many of these individuals were educated in foreign shores and simply chose not to return.
It is a situation that is counterproductive to the national intention of making foreign education more readily available to our youth, which is to bring these global professional standards back home to our shores for the benefit of the country.
The key concern now is that the incoming supply of fresh graduates might view their prospects as diminishing on local shores and seek opportunities elsewhere. Another concern is those who have recently completed their secondary education might now be turned off career paths that could benefit the industry.
On both counts, professionals from various fields that service the property industry are banding together to collectively say “look here”.
While prospects may look grim in a number of conventional industries, job seekers are being reminded that the country’s development and construction landscape continues to advance despite the current slowdown in pace.
Inescapably, Malaysia is on an unstoppable path towards a fully developed nation status, and that means there is still plenty more to be done in terms of infrastructure, urban development and housing an increasingly populous nation. To achieve this, it needs the right resources and expertise as well as innovative new solutions that only fresh minds can provide.
The current economic situation has done little to deter mega projects lined up to transform Kuala Lumpur into a desirable world-class city, or hamper the ambitions of Iskandar Malaysia in Johor to be the new economic focal point of the future. These are long-term endeavours that will provide long-term opportunities.
The industry, say veteran stakeholders, is much larger than people realise. The end product of the real estate is our built environment, which is formed by talented people who will make decisions that not only serve the interests of their companies, but also serve the interest of society by creating sustainable designs and concepts that improve our quality of life.
There is an incredibly wide variety of career choices within numerous sectors in real estate, and these go beyond architecture, engineering, estate agency, valuation, sales and marketing, law, project management or finance.
Education institutions point out that, these days, there are a number of specialised programmes available in the tertiary education system for graduates to choose from.
Reputable public universities today offer a choice of courses under the Faculty of Built Environment. These range from undergraduate programmes to postgraduate programmes in various fields, including urban and regional planning, landscape architecture, transport planning, building surveying, quantity surveying, facilities and maintenance management and project management, among others.
According to a spokesperson from the Faculty of Built Environment at a local university, there has been an increase of students enquiring and enrolling in the courses here as they see the need for such talents in the work force.
“Many students who have the passion for real estate are beginning to see the wider choices that are available and how specialising in them improves their chances of securing a job once they have completed their education,” he said.
In addition, many private universities offer property management and real estate courses as well as finance management, which are fields that are currently in high demand in the local market.
When Real Spaces spoke to several hiring managers, human resource directors and executive recruiters about why they source or recommend jobs in the real estate industry, there was a collective consensus that Malaysia’s status as a rapidly developing country ensures that the property industry will continue to expand in the foreseeable future. As such, job opportunities will also grow as property developers widen their portfolio and new vacancies emerge.
“The important skills that are needed to break into the industry include analytical ability, communication, leadership, learning, and collaboration abilities,” said one recruiter.
“Employers also look for innate qualities such as resourcefulness, integrity, flexibility and focus. However, by far, the most important quality required is enthusiasm… a demonstrated passion for real estate, and for the job in question,” she added.