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Work in Malaysia

Country flag: Malaysia

The country has a growing economy that offers some good opportunities for highly skilled foreign workers in a range of different industries

Job market in Malaysia

The economy in Malaysia is currently growing at a steady pace, having transformed itself over the past 30 years from a producer of raw materials to a vast, multi-industry economy.

More than half of the country's labour force are based in the tertiary sector - also known as the services sector.

The second biggest employer is industry, which is made up of the lucrative oil, gas and biotechnology sectors, followed by agriculture.

There are some labour shortages in the country, with certain industries' growth outstripping the supply of skilled workers. These include:

  • property and construction;
  • tourism and hospitality;
  • and media and communications.

In addition, there are some skills gaps that have been reported by companies across the country, who state they are in need of more candidates with:

  • IT skills;
  • foreign language skills;
  • soft skills like motivation, communication skills, time management and adaptability;
  • and work experience.

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is also in demand in Malaysia. For more information about TEFL, and to search for jobs in the country, see .

Job vacancies

Search for jobs in Malaysia at:

Work experience and internships in Malaysia

It can sometimes be difficult to find work experience in the country as, other than larger organisations, not all employers offer formal opportunities.

However, it is possible to find details of some available work experience and internships at Graduan .

In addition, sending speculative applications might help your chances of securing work experience if it appears there are no opportunities being advertised.

Internships and summer work placements for students can also be arranged by:

  • AIESEC UK  - for students and recent graduates;
  • IAESTE UK  - for science, engineering and applied arts students.

Volunteering in Malaysia

A great way of improving your CV and amassing work experience is by undertaking voluntary work. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Malaysia, many of which offer you the chance to help care for wildlife. However, there are some options to work with children and the disabled.

Some volunteering organisations that list Malaysia as a destination include:

Language requirements

Malay - officially known as Bahasa Malaysia - is the official language of Malaysia and is also spoken in neighbouring Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.

Despite this, the majority of the population have English as their second language, with the language being a compulsory subject in all schools. As a result, most of the population are at least conversational in English, meaning you won't necessarily need to be proficient in Malay to secure a job.

However, make sure you check the specific criteria requested for the job role you are interested to clarify the language requirements.

Malaysian visas and immigration

It is extremely important for foreigners to follow the strict Malaysian immigration laws that exist if they want to work in Malaysia.

The government is reluctant to allow foreign workers into the country, concerned that it will reduce the job prospects of Malaysian nationals. In most cases, therefore, in order to work for a Malaysian company, the organisation must be able to prove that a national is unwilling or unable to do the job.

Once you have found a job, the firm in question must then apply to the local government for a work permit, of which there are three:

Employment pass - This tends to be given to talented foreign workers - expatriates - with a specialism in a particular area. To be classified as an expatriate, the candidate must have a job offer for a top managerial post at a foreign-owned company operating in Malaysia, a managerial post or a highly skilled non-executive post.

The permit is most often awarded to teachers, doctors, engineers and IT professionals.
To qualify for this kind of work permit, you must hold a job offer from a sponsoring company and be able to demonstrate a good level of education, as well as at least three years of work experience.

In addition, you must be at least 27 years old, unless you are applying for a job in the IT sector, in which case you must be at least 23 with a minimum of two years' work experience.

The job you have been offered must offer a salary of at least MYR 5,000 (£1,075) per month.

Professional visit pass - This is provided to a foreigner who holds specialist skills of professional qualifications and wants to work in the country for a maximum period of 12 months.

The permit is only issued to people who work in specific fields, however. For more information about the categories of worker who qualify for the pass, see the Immigration Department of Malaysia - Visitor's Pass (Professional) .

Temporary employment pass - This work permit, which again is submitted by your prospective employer, is for qualified workers who are to earn less than MYR 5,000 a month. It is only valid for up to two years.

Numerous documents are required to apply for a temporary employment pass, so to make sure your employer has everything it needs, visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia .


Further information

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
April 2013

Graduate jobs


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