There are a total of 10.9 million people in the Malaysian workforce. Of these 2.1 million workers are foreign workers, about 18% of the workforce. According to the statistic from Ministry of Home Affairs, about 70% are Indonesian, the rest from Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Myammar and Nepal.
Foreign workers are widely employed in the Plantation (30%), Manufacturing (30%) , Construction (15%), Domestic Maid (15% ), Services (10%).
The number of foreign workers increasing dramatically from 750,000 to 2.1 million in the last 8 yrs. We cannot deny that foreign workers had contributed to Malaysian Economic Development. However the influx of foreign workers have created many social problems, from crime to diseases. If we include the number of illegal foreign workers plus the legal foreign workers, we are looking at about 2.6 million foreign workers in total. We have reached satuaration point often by convention that foreign workers should not be more than 10% of the population.
The economic slow down will have impact in Malaysia. Next year growth is forecast to be 3.5% and 2010 will be lower. Alot of establishment will be operating at undercapacity. There will be retrenchment and reduction in new jobs creation and unemployment rate will definitely go up.
Hence, the govement need to cutting set up a monitoring mechanism to:
1) Save jobs for Malaysians by cutting cost to save jobs or cut jobs to cut costs.
The government and private employer have social obligation to cut costs and save jobs. Any retrenchment should be foreign workers first rather than Malaysians.
2) Reduce the dependence of foreign worker. Malaysians should be given priority in job placement rather than foreign workers. The government have announced a reduction of 400,000 of foreign workers by 2010. There must be a mechanism to achieve this, otherwise is a tall order to achieve this target.
3) We need to fully utilised the 300 million announced under the stimulus package for training of workers.
a) Important to evaluate the nature of training required so that there is matching of skills and demands.
b) Matching of allowance since various skill training require different allowance.
c) Job conversion training eg. from clerk to retail sector.
d) Professional job conversion training then require longer period of training eg. becoming kindergarden teacher.
e) Retraining so that there is greater skill capability. Companies should use these downturn to up skill and retrain their executives.
f) Job placement for Malaysian retrenched from overseas. It is expected about 30,000 Malaysians in Singapore will be retrenched
also read Malaysiakini:http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/93807