MEF: Attract more locals

Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan. -filepic

PETALING JAYA: Employer groups say there is an adequate number of foreign workers in the country for now, and they want more effort made to get locals hired in less favourable jobs to reduce dependency on foreign workers.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said only a small number of sectors had manpower issues for now due to strict government rules and its requirements for foreign workers.

“Most employers are dealing with an excess of workers now rather than a shortage following a sharp decline in the global economy due to Covid-19.

“The areas where the authorities are

very strict about when it comes to foreign workers are, for example, some of the wet markets and construction industry, where crackdowns have been instituted,” said Shamsuddin.

“The shortage of foreign workers is only limited to certain sectors, namely construction, plantation and some manufacturing sectors.”

He said some manufacturers might still require foreign workers, especially those producing high-demand products, such as personal protective equipment.

Shamsuddin said it had been hard for the plantation sector to attract locals due to the mistaken belief that jobs in the plantation are low-class.

“But if we look deeper, plantation workers are provided with proper and furnished housing, land to cultivate in, good facilities and depending on one’s effort to work – only that they live away from towns and cities,” he said.

“A worker doing harvesting work can earn more than RM2,000 a month with most of his needs provided for free but Malaysians are not interested.”

Shamsuddin said society needed to change their views of less-favourable jobs, such as those deemed 3D – dirty, dangerous and difficult.

He said such jobs could be “rebranded” to attract more Malaysian workers.

“We need to modernise these jobs and make them more attractive.

“For example, in Switzerland, only a licensed plumber can legally carry out any work on the plumbing system in a home,” he said.

“It is about upgrading the profession itself so that it is not seen as less attractive jobs.”

He said the government should upgrade the skills required for those who want to work in such sectors, which could mean more investment in training, reskilling and upskilling of existing workers.

Shamsuddin noted that Malaysia had enough foreign workers for the time being, and only some of them were in the “wrong sector” that was less in demand now.

“The government should facilitate employers to temporarily redeploy these foreign workers, place them at sectors where they are needed without having to retrench and repatriate them,” he said, adding that retrenching and repatriating were rather simplistic and not helping employers to reduce cost in reviving the economy post-Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has temporarily stopped sending its domestic workers to Malaysia after the MCO was enforced here, said the embassy’s Information, Social and Cultural Affairs counsellor Agung Cahaya Sumirat.

“In tackling the pandemic, the Indonesian government has temporarily halted sending migrants abroad.

“We will see and evaluate the matter later while considering the development of the virus outbreak,” he said in an interview.

Malaysia is one of the main destinations for Indonesian migrant workers.

According to the embassy’s official data, there are almost 800,000 Indonesian migrants registered in Malaysia.

However, it is learnt that the total number including undocumented workers could be three times more than the registered number.

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