Global Brain Drain Phenomenon: How Do We Overcome It?

Malaysia has long been recognised as a nation rich in talent, boasting a diverse and highly skilled workforce. However, the country has faced a persistent challenge over the years – the emigration of Malaysian talents seeking better opportunities abroad. The brain drain in Malaysia is worrying for the country's economy and social progress in the long run. This article discusses why Malaysians go abroad for work and suggests ways to keep them in the country.

What is "Brain Drain"?

"Brain drain" refers to the emigration of highly skilled individuals from one country to another in search of better opportunities. This can result in a loss of intellectual capital and skilled labor in the source country.

It is commonly associated with professionals and knowledge workers. Brain drain can occur due to economic disparities, political instability, and lack of career opportunities. Some countries implement policies to attract and retain talent and encourage skilled workers to stay or return home.

Top Reasons Why Malaysian Talents Go Abroad

  1. Economic Opportunities: One of the primary reasons Malaysians seek opportunities abroad is the promise of higher salaries and better job prospects. Developed countries tend to offer more lucrative positions, which can be especially enticing for highly skilled individuals.
  2. Quality of Life: Many Malaysians are attracted to the higher quality of life available in countries with advanced infrastructure, better healthcare, and improved public services. The allure of a comfortable and secure life abroad often motivates the emigration of talented individuals.
  3. Global Exposure: Working and studying abroad provides Malaysians with invaluable international exposure and experience. This global perspective can enhance their skills and make them more marketable, even if they eventually return to Malaysia.
  4. Lack of Opportunities at Home: Some people leave Malaysia because they believe there are limited opportunities for career advancement. This is especially true in specialised areas or emerging industries.
  5. Political and Social Factors: Many things can make people want to move to a safer and more welcoming place. These factors include unstable politics, tensions between ethnic groups, and social problems.


Strategies to Keep Malaysian Talents from Going Abroad

1. Competitive Compensation and Benefits

To retain top talents, it's crucial for recruiters to offer competitive compensation packages that align with international standards. Conduct regular salary benchmarking to ensure your organisation remains competitive. Additionally, provide enticing benefits such as health insurance, flexible working arrangements, and opportunities for career advancement.

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By leveraging our Salary Checker tool, organisations can make informed decisions about their compensation packages, ensuring they remain competitive in the talent market. This, in turn, helps them retain top talent and maintain a strong workforce.

Additionally, when recruiters offer enticing benefits such as health insurance, flexible working arrangements, and opportunities for career advancement, they create a comprehensive and attractive employment package that enhances their ability to retain and attract top talents.

2. Create a Positive Work Environment

A positive work environment is a powerful tool for talent retention. Malaysians, like professionals everywhere, desire a workplace where they feel valued and supported. Encourage open communication, provide constructive feedback, and promote work-life balance. Organise team-building activities and recognition programs to boost morale and foster a sense of belonging within your organisation.

3. Invest in Professional Development

Many Malaysian talents leave the country in search of better professional growth opportunities. To counter this, recruiters should prioritise investing in the development of their employees. Implement training programs, workshops, and mentorship initiatives to help employees acquire new skills and advance in their careers. Demonstrating a commitment to their growth will make employees more likely to stay.

4. Promote a Global Mindset

Instead of viewing talents going abroad as a loss, consider it an opportunity to expand your organisation's global footprint. Encourage a global mindset among your employees by promoting international projects, cross-cultural training, and the exchange of ideas. This way, you can create an environment where talents can gain international exposure without having to leave the country.

5. Offer Unique Perks and Incentives

To make your organisation stand out, consider offering unique perks and incentives. These could include travel opportunities, sabbaticals, or involvement in cutting-edge projects. Offering such unique experiences can make Malaysian talents reconsider going abroad, as they can find similar opportunities in their own country.

6. Supportive Immigration Policies

Recruiters can support immigration policies that help foreign talents work in Malaysia and Malaysians abroad to come back. Partner with government agencies and industry organisations to lobby for reforms that promote a welcoming environment for global talents.

7. Networking and Mentorship Programs

Create networking and mentorship programs that connect Malaysian talents with successful professionals who have returned after working abroad. These programs can provide insights, guidance, and valuable connections that can help talents thrive in Malaysia's professional landscape.

8. Stay Current with Global Trends

Stay abreast of global industry trends and job market dynamics. Adapting to changes quickly can help your organisation remain relevant and offer opportunities that align with what Malaysian talents seek abroad. This proactive approach can demonstrate your commitment to providing a dynamic and competitive work environment.


The global brain drain is a challenge for many countries, including Malaysia. However, with the right strategies and a commitment to nurturing and retaining local talents, recruiters can help mitigate this issue. Organisations can attract and retain Malaysian talents by offering several key factors. These factors include good pay, a happy workplace, training, and a global perspective. By providing these incentives, organisations can contribute to the growth of the country. Remember, it's not just about retaining talent; it's about empowering them to thrive in their homeland.

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