MALAYSIA: According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman, a majority of employers are waiting for the start of 2022 before recruiting new staff and availing of the incentives under Jamin Kerja Keluarga Malaysia.
The Jamin Kerja is the Malaysian government's job guarantee initiative in the national budget for 2022 that will create 600,000 new job opportunities to support Malaysia’s economic recovery.
The datuk added that most employers are concerned and want to ensure there is enough manpower to operate optimally.
“Though the government’s decision to open up the economy provided employers with the motivation for recovery, the shortage of manpower in sectors shunned by locals is hindering such efforts. Employers have serious concerns on the issue of manpower shortage, especially for critical sectors such as the plantation, construction, manufacturing, food and beverage, tourism and large retailers” the datuk explained.
The Federation supports the reopening of the economy, but the lack of workers becomes challenging for those sectors despite the dropping of the unemployment rate.
Many employers are wary of spendings in 2020 and 2021, a consequence of the restrictions imposed during the lockdowns that had impacted their revenues.
“The measures taken to mitigate costs included moving to less expensive premises, reducing labour costs such as pay cuts and freeze on bonuses and pay review, freeze on hiring, not replacing staff that resign/retire and as a last resort, reducing the number of staff,” he added.
MEF also supports efforts to focus on hiring local employees in some sectors. But Syed Hussain suggested the government address this as many sectors depend on foreign labour.
He recommended, “The government should urgently address the shortage of more than 40,000 workers in the plantation sector. Even though the government approved the intake of 32,000 new foreign workers in September 2021, up till now the workers are not yet in Malaysia. The construction sector in the country is facing a serious shortage of workers, causing some major construction projects to fall behind schedule.”
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Hotels chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the demand for manpower also increased as the industry grew. But graduates in the field are not interested to start from the bottom and want to begin working as executives. This caused a gap in entry-level roles such as waiters, housekeeping, and kitchen helpers, among others. The sector’s reliance on foreign labour was evident before the pandemic when they contracted service providers that filled the gap.
The hotels association also appealed for financial assistance to solve the loss of talent and tourism capacity.