The Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) was established in 1963 as a Trade Organisation for Engineering Consultancy Practices with the objective of affiliating together for the purposes of co-operation, mutual benefit and consultation between the Consulting Engineers in Malaysia and to represent collectively the common views of Consulting Engineers in the engagement with government agencies, stakeholders and relevant organizations. Advancement of the Engineering Consultancy Profession is the essence of ACEM’s existence.
ACEM Membership consists of active practitioners in the consultancy business who are Sole Proprietors and Directors or Shareholders in Engineering Consultancy Practices (ECP). With branches in Sarawak and Sabah, ACEM has over 880 and 490 Members Firms employs more than 20,000 staff.
One of the hot national topics for this year has been the starting salary of Graduate Engineers ever since it was highlighted in a newspaper article on the 28th of October 2021 entitled “Jurutera Miskin”. It was claimed that the starting salary of Graduate Engineers has been the same for the past 20 years, that is, between RM 1,500 to RM 2,000 per month. Additional issues that were brought up such as brain drain and reluctance of students taking up STEM subjects created online discussions with divided opinions.
Taking into account feedback from various stakeholders’ surveys including ACEM, the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) issued a Press Statement regarding the above issue on the 14th of September 2022 which concluded and suggested, among others, the following:
- 35% of Engineers’ have starting pays of below RM 2,000,
- Increases in salary were not equivalent to an annual Inflation rate of 3.2%; and
- Suggestion of a starting salary between RM 2,500 to RM 3,500 per month as a short-term measure and encouraged higher salaries as per the respective Employers’ capability.
Follow-up ACEM Graduate Salary Survey
In view of the predicament faced by the Graduate Engineers, the ACEM Council proposed to conduct a follow-up survey among the member firms in September 2022 to ascertain responses regarding the Graduate Engineers’ Starting Salary Pledge. A total of 63 companies’ representatives responded to the survey. 59% of the respondent ACEM member firms are agreeable to the proposed Pledge of a minimum salary of RM 3,000 per month as the starting salary of Graduate Engineers. The details of these respondents are listed in ACEM website https://www.acem.com.my/pledge for ease of reference.
The remaining respondent member firms are currently unable to offer to the minimum salary pledge due to the following stated issues:
- After two years of disruption due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction industry has not recovered to pre-Covid levels and are affected by the current labour shortage, poor economy growth and the threat of global recession next year.
- The Consultants’ fees have been reduced due to undercutting practices and non-compliance of the BEM Scale of Fees (SOF), particularly in public sector projects, since the issuance of the Finance Ministry’s memorandum PK 3.2 in 2018.
- The Graduates’ Starting Salary Pledge would require the salary scale of the firm to be readjusted for the current staff, thereby increasing the overall overhead of the company during the period of market challenges and economic uncertainty.
With the formation of the new Government, it is hoped that major projects announced previously shall be allowed to commence without delay so that the construction and consultancy business would pick up again in the near future. In order to safeguard the sustainability of the ECP, ACEM appeals to the Ministry of Finance to review the memorandum PK 3.2 (2018) so that the SOF is complied to as mandated by BEM for the public sector projects.
Consequently, ACEM envisages that more member firms would pledge the proposed starting salary of Graduate Engineers as a small step in ensuring the well-being of the Graduate Engineers.
In reference to Mother Teresa’s quote, even though ACEM is unable to do great things presently, we shall start with doing small things with great love to help the Graduate Engineers embark on their consulting engineering career.
Let us ensure that ACEM is always in the forefront of maintaining the interest of our members in the Engineering Consultancy business and industry.
Ir. K. Sundraraj
10th December 2022.