Make sure we get skilled workers too, say industry players


JOHOR BARU: Foreign workers coming into Malaysia under the new Relaxation of Foreign Workers Recruitment Plan must also include skilled workers, say industry players in Johor.

They expressed their appreciation for the government over it’s announcement on capping the approval period for hiring foreign workers to only three days.

“There is a surge in business volume as many sectors are opening up after a long closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But not many businesses can cope with the demand as they are facing a labour shortage after retrenching workers due to closure during the pandemic,” said Johor South SME Association adviser Teh Kee Sin.

“As we are facing a labour shortage, how can we attract more foreign direct investments into the country? Foreign investors will surely want to see whether we have enough skilled manpower before coming here,” he said.

Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said the government must make sure that foreign workers coming into the country are skilled.

He said this was because many skilled Malaysian workers were working across the Causeway, including in many blue collar jobs due to the strong currency exchange rate which favours the Singapore dollar.

“The issue of not many Malaysians working in the 3D (dirty, difficult, dangerous) sector in our country is because of low wages as they would be earning much more doing the same thing in Singapore.

“As Malaysia is a developing country, the government should look at attracting foreign investors that will bring in automation into our key economic sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

“This would help reduce our dependency on foreign labour while ensuring our own workforce become skilled workers and can earn higher wages,” he added.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussien Ibrahim is still sceptical whether it would really take only three days for employers to get the conditional approval from the government to hire foreign workers.

He said that previously it took up to six months to get the necessary approvals as they had to go through much red tape involving many agencies.

“On top of that, many of the foreign workers we get only have primary education, while those with better education qualifications prefer working in countries that offer better salaries,” he added.

On Tuesday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said applications to hire workers from 15 countries will be approved within three days under the new Relaxation of Foreign Workers Recruitment Plan.

The countries are India, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

He said the details of the plan will be announced by his ministry soon.

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