KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The government insisted that the loss of Malaysian talent to foreign markets is not critical yet, despite the World Bank saying that less than a quarter of Malaysia’s labour force was highly skilled.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minster’s Department Datuk S.K. Devamany told Parliament that although the report estimated the Malaysian diaspora to be about one million, a third of whom have tertiary education, the figure was not alarming as it is “cumulative over a long period of time.”
In its April report the bank showed only 23 per cent, or less than one in four, of those in the country’s labour market being highly skilled.
“Don’t worry, Yang Berhormat, the situation is not tenat (critical),” he said in reply to a parliamentary question by Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub.
The World Bank report had also said that one in every five Malaysian graduates opted to work in OECD countries or Singapore, which alone absorbs 57 per cent of Malaysia’s educated workers.
But Devamany said that Singapore suffered a larger brain drain of 45 per cent of its highly skilled workers.
“The movement of talent is dynamic and depends on economic opportunities. But now Asia and Southeast Asia are the focus due to the economic downturn in Europe and America. So human capital is coming back here. So don’t worry,” he said.
Salahuddin, who is PAS vice president, had demanded that Devamany reveal how many Malaysian expatriates who are still working overseas and those that have returned.
But the Cameron Highlands MP said that the number is “dynamic, so I cannot give you a concrete figure.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said the number of highly skilled workers in Malaysia must rise to 37 percent by 2015 if it is to become a developed nation by 2020.
But the World Bank study found nearly 70 per cent unsure or unwilling to return.
The government set up TalentCorp at the start of the year to help Malaysia meet its talent needs.
But the agency’s chief executive, Johan Mahmood Merican, has said that the goal of luring back some 700,000 Malaysians working abroad is not possible, and its strategy is to attract foreign talents as well.