FMM warns of possible skilled workers shortage due to Malaysia-Japan MoC

The labour shortage causes work stoppages and under-production across the industry, says FMM

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by TMR

MALAYSIA must ensure its own citizens have access to the skills needed to thrive in the future economy, rather than allowing skilled workers to work in Japan, says the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

FMM said the government’s decision to sign a memorandum of collaboration (MoC) with Japan may result in a shortage of skilled workers in Malaysia.

The federation added that there has been no prior consultation on this MoC, and there is a lack of clarity on the details of the agreement.

“As it stands, Malaysia is facing an acute shortage of manpower, especially skilled workers, which is hampering our national economic recovery.”

FMM said the labour shortage has caused work stoppages and under-production across the industry.

“Output has been severely constrained, resulting in the failure to fulfil existing orders and accept new ones. The constraints on the supply of goods to satisfy the required demand will add further inflationary pressures despite the recent benchmark interest rate hike by Bank Negara Malaysia, which was intended to dampen inflation.”

Additionally, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at various levels of our education system are being enhanced to encourage greater interest and participation of our youngsters in TVET and STEM education, the federation said.

“This is also an initiative to support the technology transformation of our industries and at the same time to reduce the hiring of skilled expatriates. The MoC with Japan would somehow hamper the initiatives and hard work from all parties involved that have been ongoing over the past several years.”

It added that obtaining upskilling opportunities in developed countries could be something that Malaysian employers could consider after or as part of on-the-job training.

Instead of exporting skilled workers, FMM suggests that Malaysia should consider memorandums of understanding with companies in Malaysia for formal apprenticeship and upskilling programmes to be carried out by the global companies.

“This will help alleviate the skill shortages faced by our industries. In addition, with the current employment condition of an 80:20 ratio of local workers to foreign employees being imposed by the government, we see this collaboration further hampering the ability of our industries to obtain skilled manpower, as, on one hand, the government is sending our skilled workers overseas to work through such collaboration programmes, and at the same time, our local industries are limited in the number of foreign employees that they are able to bring in.”

Brain-drain is another point FMM raised. It said that many Malaysians have been migrating overseas in search of better jobs.

“Malaysia has been working hard to bring these diasporas back via various initiatives. As such, Malaysia should carry on with these sustainable programmes for self-help first, and do all that is possible and necessary to ensure that the industries do not face a dearth of skilled workers.”

The federation also urged the government to provide the necessary assistance in supporting the industry’s manpower needs to ensure the industry’s business sustainability and growth.

“FMM hopes for greater consideration to ensure that the local employers are given priority in getting skilled workers and that the government provides the necessary assistance in supporting the industry’s manpower needs to ensure the industry’s business sustainability and growth.”