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Manufacturers concerned over export of skilled workers to Japan

FMM In The News: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, KUALA LUMPUR, Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has expressed concern over the government’s plan to export skilled Malaysian workers to Japan, contending that the focus should be on efforts to shore up adequate local supply instead.

FMM president Soh Thian Lai said there was no prior consultation or details made available on this potential export of skilled workers to Japan.

The federation hoped to obtain more information on the memorandum of collaboration  from the human resources ministry so the industry would be clear on how this deal might work.

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

“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 accepting new ones,” Soh said in a statement today.

The government recently said it planned to send local skilled graduates and eligible skilled workers to work in Japan under the memorandum.

At this juncture, Soh said, Malaysia is preparing to get more skilled workers through various programmes, such as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at various levels of the education system.

He said local public institutions and industries were enhancing initiatives in promoting TVET and STEM to boost greater interest and participation of Malaysian youths in TVET and STEM education.

“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 memorandum with Japan would somehow hamper this initiative and hard work by all parties involved that has been ongoing over the past several years.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated industrial and technological transformation. Hence, the critical shortage of skilled workers is envisaged to continue for the next few years as we are coping with the transformational changes and increased demand for skilled manpower.”

In addition, he said Malaysia had already been suffering from a brain drain for some years now as many Malaysians have been migrating overseas in search of better jobs.

Malaysia has been working hard to bring these people back through various initiatives, Soh said.

As such, Malaysia should carry on with these 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 country should be more concerned with the brain drain issue than to be thinking about repatriating earnings from overseas via exchange programmes.

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

“Instead of exporting skilled workers, Malaysia should consider a memorandum of understanding with companies in Malaysia for formal apprenticeship and upskilling programmes to be carried out by the global parent companies.

“This will help alleviate the skill shortage faced by our industries.”

With the current employment condition of 80:20 ratio of local workers to foreign employees being imposed by the government, Soh said the MoC would further hamper the ability of Malaysian industries to obtain skilled manpower

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