Tackling The Brain Drain


After decades of outflow of educated and skilled people, Malaysia now faces a daunting challenge to its economic development. According to the 2011 World Bank report, “for every 10 skilled Malaysians born in Malaysia, one of them elects to leave the country. This is double the world average”1. About 480,000 Malaysians aged 25 and above were living overseas in 2000, with more than half of these residing in Singapore2. This article will examine the initiatives undertaken by two agencies established in 2011 to tackle the brain drain problem: Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad, attached to the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Otak-Otak Program, established by a private company.

Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad

Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (TalentCorp) was set up to strengthen public-private sector collaboration in widening and deepening the talent pool in Malaysia, said CEO Johan Mahmood Merican. Among its many programmes, three target overseas Malaysians. The Scholarship Talent and Retention (Star) programme and the Talent Acceleration in Public Service (Taps) programme enable proper utilisation of scholarship talent, whereas the Returning Experts Programme (Rep) aims to persuade the return of overseas Malaysian professionals.

Star allows Public Service Department (PSD) scholars not selected for public service to serve their bonds in participating companies, which currently encompasses 174 government-linked companies, private Malaysian corporations and multinational companies.

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