THE Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) is training local youths for free to reduce the country’s dependency on foreign labour.
With its first academy set up in 2000, more than 10,000 youths have obtained their skills-based certificates from the board. Their education and accommodation are provided free by the board and is funded by levy from the building industry.
Presently, the board has six academies including one close to Kuching.
“The board believes, as the building industry grows, it will require more and more workers with skills which foreigners lack,” CIDB senior administrative manager Sazali Che Amat told StarMetro in Kuching yesterday.
He said about 80% of the trainees were from rural areas.
“They are youths who face difficulties in pursuing higher education. After they complete the courses, they can earn relatively high incomes,” he said.
The courses are between three to nine months long. Among of the latest additions to the board’s syllabus are courses on prefabricated building material assembly.
Prefabricated materials are now common in Malaysia’s building industry. About 70% of new projects use some form of prefabricated materials.
Sazali said that foreign workers without basic qualifications would find it increasingly difficult to be employed.
He said there were 250,000 legal foreign construction workers in the country with the majority of them located in the west coast of the peninsula, in particular the Klang Valley.
“According to our study, foreign workers have minimal presence in the east coast, while in Sarawak, local labourers continue to be the majority.
“The continued dependence on illegal workers is driven by market forces. On the board’s part, we feel the best way to curb it is to train better workers and let market demand eradicate the problem,” Sazali said.
The total number of legal foreign workers peaked in 2008 when more than 2.5 million were employed in various industries.
In 2009, this number was reduced to 1.9 million and the Government aims to send home another 300,000 by 2015.
The control of illegal foreign workers comes under the Home Ministry.