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Twin plan needed

Govt should push employers to hire locals by limiting quota for foreign workers: Expert

10 Jul 2020 / 11:00 H.

PETALING JAYA: Requiring employers to advertise job vacancies for locals for at least 30 days before they can hire foreigners is commendable, although its effectiveness remains in question.

Instead, experts suggest a quota system should be introduced to cap the number of foreigners in each industry, incentives be given to companies that employ locals as well as to Malaysians who take up “unpopular jobs”, and to compel employers to pay living wages.

Economist Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai said incentives would be particularly useful in encouraging locals to work in the 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) sectors, usually taken up by foreigners.

The Universiti Tun Abdul Razak academician noted that many Malaysians do not want to work in sectors such as plantation, construction and manufacturing as the pay is typically very low.

“This is where the incentives come in. The government can offer subsidies to employers who decide to hire Malaysians. This way, the bosses can offer higher salaries.

“Incentives can also go directly to the employees to motivate them to take up employment in the 3D sectors,” he told theSun yesterday.

On the quota system, Barjoyai explained that this could be done by putting a cap on the maximum number of foreign workers that can be hired by a single company, which may vary according to industries.

“What the government can do is get the Malaysia Productivity Corporation to come in and help determine what kind of skills are required in a particular company or industry, and how many unskilled workers they need, and make estimations from there.”

Barjoyai was commenting on a statement by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan that the government now requires employers to advertise vacancies on JobsMalaysia for at least 30 days to seek locals before extending the same offer to foreigners.

The move is aimed at giving the ministry sufficient time to implement job-matching processes to prioritise local job seekers.

Barjoyai said while the initiative was very much welcomed, it was open to abuse by employers, who might just advertise vacancies to fulfil the requirement, without any intention of actually hiring the locals.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon said while they have no objection to the government’s announcement, vacancies advertised must have full details of salaries and benefits as these are the main issues for local job seekers.

Solomon also agreed that a quota system should be introduced to force employers to hire more locals, and said this could be done through discussions in the National Labour Advisory Council.

“All stakeholders are represented in the council, so the minister’s decision for the quantum of foreign and local workers can be based on feedback from the Malaysian Employers Federation, MTUC and the government itself,” he said.

To address the issue of low wages and unattractive benefits that are usually offered to foreigners, Solomon expressed hope that the government would do more to compel employers to offer living wages to local workers.

Additionally, he said employers must also be compelled to automate their operations, as this will offer upskilling opportunities for locals with better terms and conditions.

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