MEF: We hope govt can bear training costs for employees

Tough to gauge: There are concerns that the scheme won’t help blue-collar workers whose work performance is hard to measure. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Employers hope the government can absorb the training costs for employees as presented in the white paper for the Progressive Wage Policy, says Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman.

He said the financial incentive offered under the voluntary programme is attractive for employers to participate in the pilot project.

“But there was no allocation stated by the government to fund the compulsory up-skill or re-skilling training to boost the employees’ productivity.”

“The MEF hopes that the government will bear the cost for employers who are part of the programme to send their staff involved for the training,” he said yesterday.

Syed Hussain also hoped the subsidies between RM200 to RM300 per month provided by the government will not be limited to the 12-month dry-run period for the first 1,000 companies involved in the pilot project of the policy.

“The subsidies should be extended for a longer duration to attract more employers to voluntarily participate in the Progressive Wage Policy pilot project,” he said.

On the ‘first come, first served basis’ policy for only the first 1,000 companies that applied, Syed Hussain noted that it may hinder some employers who wish to take part in the pilot project.

“The progressive wage policy pilot project is introduced at a time when the country is facing uncertainties in the global economy, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a slow growth prospect of only 3% for the world economy in 2023. It is anticipated to further decrease to 2.9% in the year 2024.

“There are more than 800,000 active and registered employers with the EPF.

“The first come, first served basis policy needs to be reviewed if many employers want to participate but cannot do so due to the quota being filled by the initial 1,000 employers,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nivas Ragavan suggested that the policy be specific to the job steadily rising on a controlled scale based on skills training, career development and strategies to increase productivity.

“With the benchmark regular reviews and adjustments may be necessary to ensure continued relevance and effectiveness.

“It is equally important to consider the impact of the policy on workers who may be vulnerable, such as low-income earners or those in marginalized communities.

“Regular evaluation of the policy’s effectiveness is necessary to identify areas for improvement.

“This can include monitoring wage growth, assessing skill development outcomes, and gathering feedback from workers and employers,” he said.

In response to the government’s proposed progressive wage policy, SME Association of Malaysia (SME Malaysia) president Ding Hong Sing, emphasised the importance of prioritising the training of local technical workers.

He highlighted the significance of cultivating a skilled workforce to facilitate the transition of businesses towards digital and automated production, ultimately boosting overall business performance and efficiency.

Ding expressed support for the gradual increase in employee wages and indicated a willingness among SMEs to offer higher salaries to proficient technical workers.

He underscored the challenge businesses face in improving efficiency without experienced personnel, making it difficult to justify higher wages for employees lacking substantial expertise.

In his statement, Ding urged the government to address the issue strategically, cautioning against a singular focus on wage increments.

He pointed that the need to consider the overall survival of businesses concerning their operations and capacity, urging a balanced approach to foster sustainable growth.

A pilot run for the policy is expected to begin in June 2024 and is aimed at systematically raising workers’ wages as well as complement the minimum wage policy.

Meanwhile, employers and employees say the progressive wage scheme will not help blue-collar and gig workers.

Data analyst Muhammad Syafiq Dzulkifli, 31, said the scheme will be beneficial for entry-level and mid-level workers as they have room for salary increase.

He added that he wants to grow and upskill himself by joining training programmes in data management, data analytics, research skills and digitalisation.

“I am making ends meet with my current pay and I appreciate new opportunities to improve my pay,” he said when contacted.

Senior manager Devraj Sathivelu, 29, expressed concerns that the scheme won’t help blue-collar workers whose work performance are hard to measure.

He added that blue-collar workers change jobs fast to find better wages rather than pursue a pay rise with a company in a span of a few years.

“A progressive wage scheme is not suitable for blue-collar workers due to the conditions that need to be fulfilled to receive a pay rise,” he said, adding that he looks after more than 150 blue-collar workers in his company.

Grab Drivers Malaysia Association president Arif Asyraf Ali said gig workers are not eligible for a progressive wage scheme as they are not recognised as full-time workers.

He urged the government to recognise gig workers as full time staff as it helps provide them with a minimum wage and a progressive wage scheme.

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