Many challenges in attracting locals to skilled professions, says expert

07 Sep 2023 08:22pm
Photo by The Star
Photo by The Star

SHAH ALAM - Despite higher salaries, the lengthy learning process and limited career prospects in certain working fields deter locals.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) President Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman pointed out that there is a serious shortage of skilled workers in Malaysia in the fields of goldsmithing,hair -cutting,and textile work.

"Gaining expertise in these fields requires many years of hard work.

"These are all skill-based professions, and locals may not be enthusiastic about them due to the long, labor-intensive learning process," Syed Hussain told Sinar Daily.

Moreover, these jobs are not glamorous or office-based; they resemble factory or industrial work more.

The working environment can be demanding, with long hours, which might not be attractive to locals, he continued.

"Many are not keen on these careers as they perceive limited upward progression opportunities.

"For instance, in the case of barbers, the potential for career advancement is limited, and it takes a long time to acquire the necessary skills.

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"This often doesn't translate into better compensation and benefits.

"While the salaries can be good, there is a ceiling on how high they can go due to the limited scope of these professions."

Additionally, the talent pool in these fields is limited, which means there is no significant pressure to offer higher salaries.

The image of these professions in today's society affects the respect they receive.

Many do not find them attractive or appealing to mention, despite the higher salaries they offer.

Meanwhile, MEF Executive Director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan stated that textile, barbers, and restaurant sectors in Malaysia still face worker shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic ban on hiring new foreign workers.

"Additionally, the policy preventing the automatic replacement of expiring foreign worker permits is causing employer difficulties.

"Despite the significant contributions made by foreign workers who remitted about RM 34 billion to their home countries in 2022," Shamsuddin said.

On the other hand, local reluctance to take up socially unaccepted jobs, regardless of wages or employment terms, underscores the need to rebrand and modernise these roles to attract domestic workers.

Particularly by making positions like those in the Auxiliary Police more appealing, he said.