Reviewing expats’ wages will raise employability

MEF says job creation for the locals can also be fortified if the govt formulates policies to source skilled and semi-skilled workforce

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MORE jobs opportunities are expected to be filled by local professionals and graduates should the government’s proposal to raise the minimum wage threshold for skilled foreign workers be realised.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) ED Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said job creation for the locals can also be fortified if the government looks into formulating policies to regulate the sourcing of skilled and semi-skilled workforce from abroad as well, especially when local workers are proven qualified for such positions.

He was responding to Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran’s announcement last week that the government is exploring the practicality of foreign workers to only apply for the positions with a minimum salary of RM5,000, compared to the current RM3,000.

“It is not a matter of choice for the employers as in the event that local employees can prove to do the jobs, the applications to bring in foreign workers should be looked into.

“This matter correlates with the number of unemployed graduates at the moment, reviewing the minimum wage for expatriates will help increase the dependence on local graduates,” Shamsuddin told The Malaysian Reserve.

There are currently about 3,550 expatriates under the semi-skilled category, or 5% of 71,000 foreign workers in the country.

Shamsuddin said the proposed revision should be complemented with government policy, to reserve the semiskilled positions — which are currently filled by expatriates — for the local professionals.

“Jobs, which most companies hire semi-skilled expatriates who earn between RM3,000 and RM5,000, should be reserved for local workers, and at the moment, there is no policy dedicated to that.

“In addition, the dependency on expatriates should only be prioritised for the top managerial positions, or for such positions which require skills that are not available in our local workers.

“It takes more than just reviewing the minimum wage to secure jobs for the local professionals,” he said.

In addition, Shamsuddin said the government has to find a middle ground to fairly compensate Malaysian professionals who want to return home under the Returning Expert Programme (REP), where most only managed to secure lower-paying jobs compared to their previous remuneration abroad.

“Sometimes, the type of jobs that Malaysian expatriates are doing after returning back do not match their previous jobs.

“And the important aspect is that the domestic labour market is being remunerated differently than the global market.

“REP has been implemented for more than 10 years, but the number of returners is still on the lower side, and there have been reports concerning REP participants who cannot sustain their stay in Malaysia due to poor remuneration package,” he said.