Shared services sector booming, fresh grads missing out

  • MDeC, Talent Corp find graduates associate call centres with shared services
  • Finance and accounting functions are most popular paths for fresh grads

Shared services sector booming, fresh grads missing outCOMPANIES in the shared services and outsourcing sector seem to be doing well, with existing players expanding and 56 new companies having opened up last year.
The job opportunities are there in abundance, yet somehow fresh graduates are missing out on the opportunities that await them in the sector.
Even some faculty members are not aware of the booming sector, according to Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng (pic).
MDeC oversees the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) project, which includes what the agency calls the SSO Cluster.
At a media briefing on Jan 9, Ng said some university faculty members have admitted to her that they were not aware of the success of the SSO cluster, where average salaries are higher than in the other MDeC clusters of InfoTech and Creative Content.
This is why, since 2013, MDeC has been working with industry partners and relevant government agencies, such as Talent Corp, to raise the awareness amongst the 190,000 graduates joining the Malaysian talent pool yearly, on the career paths that lay before them.
While in the past MDeC has focused on attracting information technology graduates to the sector, today the focus is on a broader pool of graduates to alert them to the opportunities that lie there, she said.
For instance, the breakdown of jobs created from the 56 new SSO companies last year, 35 of which were non-Malaysian, shows that 27% are in BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), 62% in ITO (IT Outsourcing) and 11% in KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing).
With the larger companies in the sector having mature processes and strong training programmes, together with strong on-the-job learning, it is no surprise that Mabel Tan, director of Shell Business Service Centre Sdn Bhd, said that her company looks for graduates with the right attitude and who want to learn.
The nature of SSO jobs is that individuals can be trained for the roles. Both Ng and Tan pointed out that many of those in the SSO sector today are not in roles that tap the knowledge they picked up in university.
“For instance, most of our IT SSO jobs are done by those who did not graduate with degrees in IT,” said Tan.
Having said that, while the technology field is hot, finance and accounting are even hotter. Shell Business Service Centre has 2,000 jobs in SSO plus about 500 consultants, all Malaysians, who consult all over the world for the Shell Group. Yet Tan said that over the past three years, “there has been huge growth in the SSO sector for finance and accounting.”
Recognising this, Talent Corp has partnered with the main accounting bodies in Malaysia to help build greater awareness about the career choices of accounting students beyond trying to join the main accounting firms.
Shared services sector booming, fresh grads missing outHowever, it found a strong perception among graduates and their parents that most SSO jobs are akin to contact centre careers which are monotonous and not challenging.
“We have to correct this mindset among them,” said Siti Norliza Mohd Sahar, head of Graduate Employability at Talent Corp.
This perception has not hurt Shell Business Service Centre however, which has grown its SSO headcount from eight people in 1997 to 2,500 people in 2008, before outsourcing 1,500 IT-related jobs to other SSO companies in Cyberjaya.
It has cemented its place as among the best shared services hubs in the Shell Group, with 65% of its work being done for other Shell units around the world.
MDeC plans to use the success of the likes of Shell Business Service Centre to help educate graduates on the possibilities that lay ahead for them.
For Tan, what lays ahead is to position Malaysia so that it can win the responsibility to conduct upstream engineering for the Shell Group. That will be big – if it happens.
Meanwhile, the Shell Group is initiating the transfer of brand-related and media work from Europe to Cyberjaya. Cost advantages are one part of it, but the other is that Malaysians have the skills set to handle this.
Besides their language advantages, one other intangible strength is the ease by which Malaysians can work across cross-cultural teams.
With Shell Business Service Centre in Cyberjaya serving 90 countries, it helps to be comfortable with different cultures, and Tan proudly attested to the high comfort level her team has with those from various cultures.
Related stories:
Finance SSO industry faces talent crunch: ACCA survey
MSC Malaysia to move SSO cluster up value chain: MDeC
Malaysia’s SSO industry must shift focus from cost to growth
Malaysia's homegrown players not on fast growth track
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