Covid-19 can be a game changer for 3D jobs

Employers need to invest in machinery so that they can create better job opportunities that require certain skills

by NUR HANANI AZMAN/ pic by TMR FILE

THE 3D — dirty, dangerous and difficult — jobs should be enriched and rebranded to attract more locals, particularly the youth, said Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) ED Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan.

Shamsuddin said employers need to invest in machinery so that they can create better job opportunities that require certain skills.

“For example, construction industry players can build projects with an industrialised building system (IBS) that will attract the youth to work rather than the challenging construction jobs.

“Government can play a role by giving incentives or a double tax deduction to those companies that spend on automation,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.

MEF forecasts a continuous weak employment market despite Malaysia now at the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) stage.

Shamsuddin sees weak local and global demand as well with negative consumer sentiment since people are limiting their spending in the event of retrenchment.

Khazanah Research Institute researcher Christopher Choong said Malaysia needs to redeploy surplus labour to sectors that have seen a surge in labour demand due to the pandemic.

He said this is not just in healthcare, but also groceries, food retail, logistics, cleaning services and online learning.

“Where possible, this should be designed as a form of temporary work, with a recall clause, so that the original employer attachment is preserved.

“Second, we need to use public investments to catalyse strategic sectors in creating new jobs. It is an opportunity to reconfigure our economy to be more forward-looking,” he said in his short opinion piece titled “Post-MCO: A Labour Reallocation Strategy”.

With lower start-up costs, fuelled by an impetus to rethink fundamental economic assumptions, what better time than now to invest in renewable energy, scale up digital ecosystems, ramp up recycling, repurpose physical spaces and build up the care economy.

Public investments are meant to stimulate and “crowd in” private sector investments, which otherwise wouldn’t take off given current economic outlook.

For these investments, he said, the country can set out the criteria on the absorption of surplus labour using mechanisms set up by the government.

On mechanisms, he said, labour reallocation has to work in tandem with workforce retention and protection programmes.

“This includes the Employment Insurance System, Employment Retention Programme, Wage Subsidy Programme and potentially the Self-Employment Social Security Scheme if we want to include the self-employed.

“These benefits, when designed well, can be used to incentivise temporary hiring and workforce sharing,” he said.

Job matching and training platforms can be consolidated. Vacancy listings can be boosted with more industry-specific discussions and buy-ins, he added.

“In sum, I think we have the mechanisms to implement this, but we need to do this systematically, thoughtfully and at scale,” he said.

For Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) president Jufitri Joha, he believes the Covid-19 pandemic could be a game changer to speed up the process of replacing foreigners in the 3D sector.

He urged young people to seize whatever opportunities available in the 3D sector as the unemployment rate could continue to surge.

There are good opportunities in the 3D sector, for example in the plantation sector, especially oil palm, which offers a salary between RM2,500 and RM3,500, according to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC).

“On June 5, MPIC Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali invited MBM to meet for a discussion.

“Discussion to encourage local youths to join the sector while reducing foreign workers. We will meet them soon,” he said.

Jufitri said Generation Z (those born after 1995) has a strong adaptation to the digital platform of Revolution 4.0. Hence, they are actually ready for this new norm.

“They can use these skills to generate revenue, find new ideas and information, and create new innovations.

“Explore new opportunities arising from the Covid-19, as well as new areas such as eSports that provides excellent opportunities for youth,” he added.