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Dynamic Skilled Workforce

Dynamic Skilled Workforce

Malaysia’s talent pool of trainable, well-educated, multilingual and diverse workforce is the foundation of our economic growth. Malaysia has 20 public and over 50 private universities, in addition to over 1,400 technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVET) that have been established under different ministries to support the growth of the talent pool in Malaysia. The labour force in Malaysia is largely dominated by a young demographic of ages betweeen 25 to 29 years, comprising 18% of the total population or 2.8 million persons. This is followed by the age groups of 30 to 34 years and 35 to 39 years with a contribution of 15.8% and 13.5% respectively. (Source: Labour Force Survey Report, Malaysia, 2020, DOSM)  

Backed by the Government’s continued support of human resource development in all sectors, the quality of Malaysia’s labour force is one of the very best in the region. The average Malaysian can to speak at least two or three languages. English proficiency levels are high, and school leavers going into the work market have at least 11 years of formal education.

The Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025 promotes collaborations between universities and industries. It allows the industrial sectors to lead curriculum design as well as partner with programmes such as apprenticeships, hands-on training, real-life simulations and specialised employer training programmes.

Malaysia is also preparing the new generation with the necessary skillsets for future jobs. The Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Pre-school to Post-Secondary Education) is a roadmap to strengthen the STEM’s delivery processes whereby students are exposed to basic programming and will be introduced to robotic, artificial intelligence, and computer science subjects.

Malaysia Significantly Invests in Education


Private Universities


Public Universities

More than


TVET Colleges

Malaysia ranks 1st in total public expenditure on education (% to GDP) among ASEAN countries according to The International Monetary Fund (2020). The education ministry was the biggest recipient in recent budget allocations, with a focus on enhancing learning institutions nationwide as well as prioritising TVET centres.

The governments’ efforts at developing industry ready talent is reflected in Malaysia’s improved ranking in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020 (GTCI 2020), a report by INSEAD University, Google and Adecco. Malaysia went up two spots to 26th across 88 countries and ranked 6th globally for Employability.

High Priority on Education

Malaysia is an upper middle-income country with a well-developed education system. Education and training are accorded high priority in national development under Malaysia’s five-year development plans. The quality of Malaysia’s workforce is one of the best in the region. Total enrolment in public institutions of higher education is estimated to reach over 500,000 with an increasing focus on the science and technical disciplines.

Enrolment at Public University by Field of Study

Total of


Enrolment in Arts and Humanities

Total of


Enrolment in Social Sciences, Business and Law

Total of


Enrolment in Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction

Total of


Enrolment in Science, Mathematics and Computer

(Source: Quick Facts 2020, Ministry of Education)

Robust Private Sector Support in Education

The private sector has also set up educational institutions to supplement the government’s efforts to generate a larger pool of professionals and semi-professionals.

Various private colleges in Malaysia offer degree programmes on a twinning basis with overseas institutions of higher learning, while foreign universities such as University of Southampton Malaysia, Monash University Malaysia, Nottingham Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Curtin University in Sarawak, University of Reading Malaysia and Xiamen University Malaysia have set up branch campuses in the country. Educational institutions in Malaysia generate a large pool of professionals with degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

Internationally Ranked Universities

Source: Times Higher Education’s (THE) Asia University Rankings 2021

The Times Higher Education’s (THE) Asia University Rankings 2021 featured 15 of Malaysia’s public institutions. Universiti Malaya made it to the top 50 institutions in the region in its fourth consecutive year.The other universities included Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Development of Industrial Training

The Human Resource Growth Fund (HRDF) was set up to encourage training in the private sector. Companies in the manufacturing and service industries who contribute to this fund are eligible to use grants to bear the costs incurred in training their labour force. The National Vocational Training Council under the Ministry of Human Resources coordinates the planning and development of a comprehensive system of vocational and industrial training programmes for all training providers. It also develops the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS) continuously. To date, there are more than 800 NOSS covering certificate, diploma and advanced diploma qualifications.

As an example, Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) is among the notable TVET institutions to address the gap in knowledge on new technologies, heavy cost of equipment and provide a consistent talent supply. It’s Precision Machining and Industry 4.0 Centre bring better understanding on technical-related subjects and lead the charge in preparing industries to adopt new technologies by providing the right platform for learning, training and development. PSDC has also collaborated with the German-Malaysia Institute (GMI) to offer a German Dual Vocational Training (GDVT) which combines 30% theoretical training and 70% practical training at a host company – contributing to nurturing a multi-skilled, industry-ready workforce.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) is among the higher learning institutes that are contributing to the TVET initiative in the country. UMP has obtained a distinguished 5-Star total score honour from the QS Globe College Rankings (WUR) 2020 and aims to produce future-proof talents.



Besides the increasing number of public training institution such as technical schools, polytechnics, industrial training institutes and skills development centres to meet the growing requirements of the industrial sector, collaborative efforts between the Malaysian government, enterprises and foreign governments have resulted in the establishment of several advanced skills training institutes such as the German-Malaysian Institutes, Malaysia France Institute, Japan Malaysia Technical Institute, British Malaysia Institute and Malaysian Spanish Institute.

– UMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Wan Azhar Wan Yusoff (2019)