It’s no secret that Covid-19’s impact on businesses has been unequal. While some industries have been decimated, others are thriving due to lifestyle changes brought on by pandemic mitigation measures.
However, as consumers’ priorities and needs evolve, even companies in thriving sectors need to innovate in order to keep up.
According to Tham Wei Han, Regional Consultant at PeopleFirst Consulting, PeopleSearch Group’s Malaysia office, the global packaging industry falls into this category. He describes key market shifts in Malaysia’s packaging industry and the talent trends that the pandemic is fuelling across a broad spectrum of industries.
The growth of the packaging industry is largely due to a spike in e-commerce and a greater demand for food delivery services amid pandemic mitigation measures. As these measures look set to continue in many parts of the world and consumers become accustomed to their transformed lifestyles, this is certainly an industry to watch.
A recent McKinsey report on the global packaging industry which generates US$900 billion annually highlighted “dramatic shifts in consumer channels, new or heightened hygiene and consumer-safety concerns, highly volatile raw-materials prices, lifted single-use packaging bans, and the disruption of several end markets (such as hospitality and restaurants) by stay-at-home orders.”
However, in order to address consumers’ concerns, companies will have to change their approach.
McKinsey & Company says “packaging companies will need to raise their performance in multiple ways: balance sustainability goals with stringent hygiene requirements, step up their e-commerce games, and compete in a novel customer landscape while facing strong cost pressures.”
While food packaging comprises the largest sector in the packaging industry, the advice extends to packaging for groceries, household supplies and other consumer products as e-commerce gains traction.
In the face of an increasing demand for consumer-friendly packaging and enhanced product protection, flexible packaging is taking centre stage in Malaysia. Such packaging provides the added advantages of being lighter and more resistant to contamination. The growth of innovative flexible alternatives to traditional rigid packaging is also being propelled by advancements in the field of material science, and a growing focus on sustainability as the environmental impact of plastic packaging remains a concern.
“Eco-friendly and tamper-proof packaging solutions are in great demand. As such, companies in the sector are looking into innovative solutions to meet these criteria,” says Tham Wei Han, Regional Consultant at PeopleFirst Consulting, PeopleSearch Group’s Malaysia office.
According to a report in the The Edge Markets, Bursa Malaysia-listed plastics companies with direct or indirect exposure to the food and beverage (F&B) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors such as Scientex Bhd, SCGM Bhd, Thong Guan Industries Bhd and Tomypak Holdings Bhd are readjusting their focus as a result.
“In addition to a spike in e-commerce and food deliveries, we’re seeing packaged food items fly off the shelves a lot faster than before as people fear they won’t be able to secure essential food items. These factors are necessitating a hastening of manufacturing processes, so we’re also seeing an increase in automation,” says Tham.
KEY TALENT TRENDS
To enable this, Automation and Robotics Engineers are needed to design and develop cutting-edge machines and processes.
Demand for Technical Sales personnel is also increasing.
“They are needed to provide pre-sales and post-sales support, identify and establish new business and liaise with existing clients,” says Tham.
Amid rapid digital transformation, the need for such sales personnel is being seen in other industries offering technological solutions as well.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN A VIBRANT LANDSCAPE
As remote working arrangements continue in many sectors, positions that previously went unnoticed are gaining prominence.
“For instance, more and more companies are looking to hire in-house voice engineers to upgrade existing solutions and to deploy new technology and solutions to facilitate remote communication among teams.”
The remote work phenomenon is also creating exciting global opportunities for Malaysian talent.
“These days, some global companies do not require their Malaysian staff to relocate in order to work for them. For example, even though your team is based in the UK, you get to continue living in Malaysia and working from home. If you don’t mind keeping to the UK’s work schedule, it actually presents a great opportunity. It benefits Malaysians who want to be exposed to global work experiences in the comfort of their home country without the headaches of relocation,” says Tham.
Amid both challenges and opportunities, the pandemic has caused companies across industries to recalibrate their criteria for ideal candidates.
Aside from hard skills such as digital literacy, they are looking for people with specific traits.
“Our clients are looking for people who are open to exploring new positions and are able to pick up new skills to adapt. Candidates cannot afford to stick to just one specialisation and refuse to budge. You have to be open-minded and resilient. These are much sought-after qualities as this period of prolonged economic uncertainty requires people to tackle and overcome unexpected business challenges,” says Tham.
For more industry and talent insights to power your business or career, get in touch.