By SURESH CHANDRA
Since our inception as a manufacturing site in 1972 and with an initial workforce of only 100 employees, Intel Malaysia has evolved into a world-class facility for assembly and technology development of Intel Corp’s most advanced microprocessors.
With more than 9,000 employees to date, it is Intel Corp’s largest and most diverse site outside of the United States.
Intel Malaysia also plays a strategic role in global operations coupled with a variety of shared service centres in finance, human resources (HR) and information technology. We have continuously moved up the value chain, to attract more investments to Malaysia.
As a leading employer in the country, Intel continuously engages with the Government on policy matters and processes to improve the ease of doing business in the country.
Talent is one of the key areas where we have collaborated with the Government. In the electronics sector, we need to innovate and hire the best to be competitive.
While Intel has been seriously committed to developing a local talent pipeline, domestic skills shortages persist in some areas such as advanced design/engineering and niche skills like tax. It is here that we look to hire top quality talent worldwide.
This has not always been easy. Challenges around attracting and retaining technically skilled foreign talent led us to reach out to the Government to spur immigration reform and innovation.
We believe highly skilled foreign talent can help innovate, teach locals and create jobs. I recall the case of a senior R&D engineer, who was heading a unit involved in embedded systems.
At that time, the Employment Pass (EP) had a tenure limit of 10 years for foreign talent holding executive positions. Upon completing 10 years in the country, his work permit was not to be renewed. If he had left the site it would have been a big economic loss with the US Parent Division having doubts about the Malaysian unit’s ability to sustain projects.
Toward liberalisation of Government policy
Many worry that bringing in expatriates or foreign hires will take jobs away from Malaysians. This is not the case. Instead, if we do not reform, we will be giving jobs away to other countries.
We are happy to share that the Government listened and acted and the case above was one of the triggers for the Government to liberalise. The tenure limit on work permits for top foreign talent in critical sectors has since been removed.
At Intel Malaysia we have about 100 foreign hires including Americans, British, Costa Ricans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Indians and Chinese, and it is this rich diversity that will continue to enhance our site by bringing in new learnings and viewpoints.
Liberalisation has been done in many facets of the EP. Previously, the EP was issued on a two-year renewable basis for less senior roles. There was also a requirement to advertise expatriate job positions to Malaysians.
In 2012, the Immigration Department of Malaysia (JIM) relaxed these work permit limitations and also removed the requirement to pre-determined understudies. This sends a positive signal to industry, to the talent we are looking to retain and to our global headquarters who decide the quality and quantity of business moving to Malaysia.
The Residence Pass is another innovative JIM product that has helped us retain foreign talent we bring to Malaysia for the long term as international local hires. The spouse can work on this pass as well which helps the talent take a longer term view of working at Intel and in Malaysia.
The Government has begun to recognise that in order to fully reap the benefits of a global talent market, and create an innovative leadership, our immigration policy needs to be reoriented.
We are glad to have played a part as catalyst for some of this change and look forward to partnering with agencies like TalentCorp to help take Malaysia forward.