KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in Penang are getting higher starting pay from RM3,500 onwards compared to their peers in the Klang Valley and other parts of the country, The Star reported today.

Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association’s Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai told the newspaper that factories in the state dubbed the country’s electric and electrical hub will pay fresh graduates as much as RM5,000 if they are involved in the design and development of integrated circuits.

“Generally, any STEM graduate working in Penang’s factories can expect a starting pay of about RM3,500,” he was quoted as saying.

Pentamaster Corporation Berhad group executive chairman Chuah Choon Bin said the surge in foreign direct investments in Penang last year resulted in a higher median salary for STEM graduates.


He said there was a lot of competition for manpower so multinational companies set higher salaries to attract skilled workers and fresh graduates.

This has brought the median salary for STEM graduates in Penang to about RM4,000, he said.

However, Chuah said hiring is now undergoing a slowdown due to the US-China trade war as well as the war between Russia and Ukraine, adding that companies are also reducing the size of its workforce and operation hours to save cost.


He expects the slowdown to continue until the end of this year, but said it will depend on developments in the US-China and Russia-Ukkraine conflicts.

Aside from the manufacturing sector, The Star also reported that fresh graduates in the hospitality industry can earn upwards of RM2,500 in Penang’s hotel and tourism sectors.

Chairman of the Penang chapter of the Malaysia Association of Hotels Tony Goh told the newspaper that starting salaries now are higher than pre-pandemic, and attributed the increase to the demand for more workers in the industry and higher costs of living.

“For us now, salaries are definitely higher compared with before the pandemic. We don’t expect them to work with a basic salary of RM1,300 to RM1,500 like before,” he was quoted as saying.

He said the higher pay grade for all other positions was also due to the minimum wage rule imposed by the government last year.

He said qualified fresh graduates would be offered a basic salary of around RM2,500 excluding allowances.

The Star yesterday reported a survey showing the starting salaries of fresh graduates ranged from RM2,6000 to RM2,900 in the Klang Valley and Johor Baru and it was about RM2,400 in Melaka.

Human resource specialist Azimah Aziz said the salary for a fresh graduate as a research assistant in aquaculture starts from RM2,900.

However she said starting salaries are also based on job scopes and the candidate's experience.