24 Jul 2017 04:28:36 PM

Turning the tide: Brain drain to brain gain

(L-R) Professor, Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr Prakash Thamburaja; TalentCorp CEO, Shareen Shariza Dato' Abdul Ghani; moderator Cynthia Ng; consultant respiratory physician at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Dr Helmy Haja Mydin; and manager at Hays Malaysia, Natasha Ishak.

With the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) setting the course for a new way forward for the country, Malaysia must be able to retain her top talent and be able to fill the skills gap issue facing many industries and employers. At a recent Merdeka Award Roundtable discussion titled 'Turning the Tide: Brain Drain to Brain Gain', a panel consisting of personalities in human capital, academia and healthcare discussed the ongoing concerns surrounding Malaysia’s talent pool, especially in the sphere of attracting and retaining top talent.
When it comes to our talent abroad, Natasha Ishak, manager at Hays Malaysia shares that Malaysians are interested in coming home, as revealed by a recent survey conducted by Hays. However, there are areas of concerns for these professionals overseas, especially in matters related to transparency and a meritocratic environment in the workplace.

Dr Helmy Haja Mydin, a consultant respiratory physician at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur who is a TalentCorp Returning Expert Programme returnee weighs in.

“It depends on the industry,” says Dr Helmy. “In medicine, there are limitations when it comes to training or specialist posts,” adding that certain careers require the necessary infrastructure, ecosystem and funding in order to reach the potential of career growth.
With knowledge transfer being vital to improving our talent pool, what are the main constraints for academics in the country? 

“Budget cuts,” Professor Dr Prakash Thamburaja says simply. The Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia believes that budget cuts in research grants leads to less academia returnees as they do not have sufficient funding and the infrastructure to conduct their research and development activities.
There is also a large pool of Malaysians who have lived overseas for years, who do not wish to return due to their career progression and lifestyle choices. How can we leverage on their expertise to help the country reach her economic aspirations? 

“One solution is to get feedback from these Malaysians on how to effectively utilise their knowledge and experiences into the Malaysian context,” offers Shareen Shariza Dato’ Abdul Ghani, CEO of TalentCorp. 

“Going abroad is not necessarily a bad thing. It is all about what you gain from there,” Dr Helmy chips in. 
Certain skills will make you employable and that in hindsight addresses the issue of unemployment.”
Shareen shares that TalentCorp is also looking at various ways to engage with Malaysians abroad, who still want to contribute to the country. 

“Brain drain is not a zero-sum game,” she says. “We want to introduce the narrative of brain circulation, where we circulate knowledge and expertise for Malaysians no matter where they are.”

Watch the full Merdeka Award Roundtable Discussion video below:

Malaysian employers are constantly on the lookout for top talent around the globe to provide skills and knowledge transfer. If you are a Malaysian professional working abroad looking to make your move back to Malaysia, do reach out to us. 

To find out more, visit our website or connect with us at globalmalaysians@talentcorp.com.my