Flat growth of skilled workers in Malaysia pulls back labour market, says minister

Kulasegaran says this is a threat to Malaysia’s target to achieve at least 35% of skilled labour

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE reported at growth in the skilled workforce is alarming, said Human Resource Minister M Kulasegaran.

He said the flat growth is a threat to Malaysia’s target to achieve at least 35% of skilled labour under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), which is currently at 28%.

“I’m concerned about the level of Malaysian skilled workers now. Many companies have complained of not finding the right candidates and that our labour market is not ready for the Industry 4.0 technologies.

“It is estimated that over 20,000 unskilled youth will be affected by the Industry 4.0,” he told reporters at the launch of the Human Resource Development Fund’s (HRDF) new scheme in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Kulasegaran added that employers are encouraged to invest in upskilling and reskilling programmes for their workers to increase the portion of skilled labour in the country.

“A lot of employers would not take the opportunity and contribute to the upskilling or reskilling programmes because they fear that the workers will take advantage and leave for another company.

“Under the Social Security Organisation’s Employment Insurance System, the agency will find suitable jobs for people who have been retrenched.

“However, these retrenched workers don’t have the financial capacity to upskill themselves in order to get a better job,” he said.

The government has targeted skilled manpower to reach 35% of the total workforce — with holders of diplomas and higher qualifications — by 2020 through the 11MP.

The country has recorded a flat growth in skilled labour market since 2016, which had prompted the country to raise the portion under the development plan.

In April, Malaysia’s labour force stood at 15.61 million, while the labour participation rate has remained at 68.5% since last February.

In addressing the shortage of skilled manpower, HRDF is introducing the B40 Capacity Building Scheme, which is targeted at the bottom 40% income group (B40), amounting to RM15 million.

HRDF CEO Elanjelian Venugopal (picture) said the programme focuses on raising the income of the B40 group through amplifying their individual skill sets.

“We launched the new scheme to assist the B40 category so that they can upskill themselves.

“If they are already working, they can aim for better wages and for those who are unemployed, it can be an opportunity to venture into entrepreneurship and start small businesses.

“This programme is outcome-based. We want people to actually earn better after they have been through the programme,” he said.

Under the new scheme, HRDF has allocated funds for about 1,500 people to undertake employability and upskilling trainings for up to six months.