In a study of 16,500 students from Malaysia's leading universities, Bank Negara Malaysia was voted as the number one ideal employer, for the second year in a row by business students.

Among those studying engineering, PETRONAS was elected as the most aspirational employer of the future talent pool, in Universum's new Malaysia Top 100 IDEAL Employers student survey.

These are the top 10 ideal employers among Malaysia's business students:

1. Bank Negara Malaysia 2. PETRONAS 3. Google 4. AirAsia 5. Sime Darby 6. Lembaga Tabung Haji 7. Maybank 8. Malaysia Airlines 9. Bursa Malaysia 10. EY (Ernst and Young)

Among engineering students in Malaysia, these are the top 10 employers:

1. PETRONAS 2. Shell 3. Sime Darby 4. Schlumberger 5. SapuraKencana Petroleum 6. Intel 7. Google 8. BMW Group 9. Tenaga Nasional (TNB) 10. Malaysia Airlines

From the findings, the banking sector seems to have remained stable in Malaysia, since only two banks saw their ranking decline from the year before, in stark contrast to other financial hubs, like Singapore.

Universum noted the once-strong public sector has been on a steady decline for the past three years, now the 11th ranked industry among all student groups, and the industry of choice for just 10% of students.

Kit Foong, country manager of Malaysia, Universum, noted it was encouraging to see talent still highly attracted to the local champions, such as Bank Negara Malaysia and PETRONAS.

"Despite the issues the energy sector has been having, and ongoing pessimism around oil prices, we still see that oil and gas players are remaining attractive among engineering students in Malaysia."

However, he sounded a note of caution: "These domestic employers need to be mindful, as this year’s survey shows that the international employers are gaining ground, especially among Malaysia’s engineering talent."

Dato’ Raiha Azni Abd Rahman, senior vice president, group HRM at PETRONAS, said: "We will continue to build a sustainable and effective talent pool and pipeline through our PETRONAS Group learning institutions."

She cited PETRONAS Leadership Centre for transforming leaders’ expertise; InstitutTeknologi Petroleum PETRONAS for technical excellence; UniversitiTeknologi PETRONAS for R&D; and AkademiLaut Malaysia as a Centre of Excellence for maritime education and training.

ALSO READ: Malaysia’s 20 most attractive employers

Career aspirations of Malaysian graduates

When asked about their most important career goal upon graduation, nearly two thirds (62%) of students cited 'work-life balance' as one of their top priorities, for the third year in a row. Being 'secure or stable in my job', was the second most valued career goal.

Regionally, only undergraduates in Singapore (66%) covet work/life balance more than Malaysians. At the same time, work-life balance doesn't rate highly in Indonesia (53%), Thailand (43%) and Vietnam (46%).

With the top two career goals of Malaysian talent the same regardless of field of study, the third highest career aspiration sees a difference - business graduates want 'to be entrepreneurial or creative', while engineering graduates wish 'to be a functional or technical expert'.

Jokha Al Busaidi, Middle East and Asia recruitment manager at Schlumberger, said: "Because we believe in promotion from within, based on merit, it’s really rewarding to know students are enthusiastic about the interesting and diverse challenges our careers provide.

"These diverse challenges are demonstrated by our campus recruiters, all of whom joined us as engineers and scientists so they understand the needs of the students."

Joyce HK Wong, South East Asia HR manager at Schlumberger, added: "What we contribute our improved ranking to is our close collaboration with the universities and relevant student bodies."

ALSO READ: Regional data on gender diversity – how Malaysia, Singapore fare

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