Malaysia has witnessed a more than 5% increase in employment in the SME sector during the first quarter of the year. According to the SME Employment Index by HR software firm BrioHR.com, this is strong growth and an uplift of more than 4% increase for the last quarter of 2021 and a 10% increase in employment numbers over the last six months from last October to March this year. The index tracks the health of employment in the SME sector and factors in the aggregated data of 14,000 employees in Southeast Asia.
The pandemic has led SMEs to realise the importance of digital marketing. As a result, roles such as content creators, whether as a writer or editor for written content or as a video producer or graphic content for video content, are tightly sought after, BrioHR.com's co-founder and CEO, Benjamin Croc, told A+M. Web developers, designers, and data analysts are also in high demand. There is also a growing demand for skilled marketing professionals, he added.
"Businesses are now requiring digitally savvy professionals as they become more data-driven in their approaches to customer service, marketing, employee development, and other critical functions. Our data shows high demand for a wide range of professional skills," Croc said, adding:
A mix of both hard and soft skills will be in demand in 2022. The topmost in-demand skills were broken down into the following categories: Problem-solving, self-management, working with people, and technology use and development.
On the hard skills side, employers may be looking for candidates who possess advanced tech skills, including programming and coding skills. On the soft skills side, good communication skills and the ability to think critically and creatively will be important.
Due to the evolution of digital media, Croc said previously distinct marketing disciplines have been forced to merge. "The distinctions have become blurred, and functions are now intertwined. Today, PR is becoming more closely linked to marketing and advertising. Day-to-day responsibilities are expanding to include tasks that were previously classified as marketing or advertising," he explained.
Croc also said that these professionals can and have now become social media experts, brand ambassadors, content creators and marketers, and trend spotters, and this trend does not appear to be slowing down or changing.
Aside from the type of roles in demand within the marketing, advertising and PR industry, BrioHR.com's data also showed that salaries increased by 1.3% in the first quarter of the year after showing a drop during the COVID 19 lockdowns.
While many other organisations continue to operate on limited budgets as they focus on navigating their way out of the COVID-19 problem and back to growth, Croc said that forward-thinking SME enterprises are eager to overcome the manpower scarcity caused by the Great Resignation and the pandemic.
According to the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia at least 150,000 SMEs in the country have closed since the pandemic, resulting in 1.2 million job losses. Meanwhile, a recent survey by SAP titled "Transformational Talent: The impact of the Great Resignation on Digital Transformation in APJ’s SMEs" said that 64% of SMEs in Asia Pacific and Japan are having difficulties coping with the impact of the Great Resignation. At the same time, nine in 10 SMEs in the region said that workforce volatility, such as the pandemic and now, the Great Resignation, has directly impacted their digital transformation plans.
Their digital transformation plans have also been hindered due to the lack of skilled talent. In fact, this was ranked as the top challenge to achieving successful transformation for SMEs across Asia Pacific and Japan, ahead of traditional obstacles such as cybersecurity, lack of budgets, and lack of understanding about available digital solutions.
Photo courtesy: 123RF
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