It looks like the opportunity to learn new skills is fast becoming the new currency for retaining and attracting talent.

Following reports that Singaporean staff would give up higher salaries for a chance to learn new skills, a new survey reveals that their counterparts in Malaysia might have adopted a similar mindset.

According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, 64% of workers in Malaysia said gaining new skills would interest them more than higher pay or career advancement.

This figure was found to be the highest in the region, with 55% of employees in Singapore, 62% in China, and 74% in Thailand stating the same.

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The survey, which canvassed responses from 230,000 people across 31 countries, also highlighted 43% of workers in Malaysia said their immediate career goal was to develop new skills.

“By keeping staff engaged and driving their job-related education, employers can create a sense of advancement and loyalty, while workers can enhance their wage-earning value by being ready for the roles of the future,” Kamal Karanth, managing director, Kelly Services Malaysia, said.

The survey also found that workers in Malaysia were more optimistic than many of their global counterparts with regards to career development opportunities.

More than four out of 10 (43%) employees in the country said they had the opportunity to grow their career at their current company.

The figure was well above the global average (35%) and also higher than the results reported in other countries in the region such as Singapore (34%), Hong Kong (33%) and Australia (27%).

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A similar number in Malaysia were also satisfied with the career-path options they have at their current employer, with 40% indicating they have clear career path options, again outperforming the average global (29%) and regional (37%) figures.

In fact, more than half (57%) said they have had a career development discussion with their employer in the past year.

Of these 57%, 62% of employees felt it had been helpful in terms of acquiring new skills, and 56% in terms of advancement opportunities.

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