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Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the backlash would not just affect the economy but also key industries like healthcare, manufacturing and construction where growth is driven by skilled workers. NSTP/MUHAIZAN YAHYA

PUTRAJAYA: The shortage of skilled workers and job mismatches among employees here could lead to serious repercussions if left unchecked.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the backlash would not just affect the economy but also key industries like healthcare, manufacturing and construction where growth is driven by skilled workers.

"Recently, I met chief executive officers of various companies and was surprised to find they were short of skilled workers.

"I was more surprised that companies were also facing difficulties in finding apprentices from the ministry which trains about 15,000 people under the upskilling and reskilling programmes.

"These people apparently did not offer themselves to work in these industries (despite being trained), probably due to job mismatches," he said at the launching of the "Monitoring Occupational Shortages: Lessons from Malaysia's Critical Occupations List" report today.

Apart from latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data, Kulasegaran said traditional skills like welding were also high in demand.

"Many people do not realise how important this skill, which is easily available at training institutes under the ministry is.

"Once they get a job, they earn a handsome salary but Malaysians see this of kind of skilled job as their last choice and this mind-set must change," he added.

Kulasegaran said the ministry had also suggested that the government focus more in providing funding and special incentives to learn such skills, in the coming budget.

He added that Malaysia's Critical Occupations List (COL) was created by the government to effectively monitor shortages and identify the country's most in-demand skills.

According to the new World Bank report, the COL is an innovative platform for keeping ahead of changing labour market demands associated with new technologies, automation, and Industry 4.0.

"The Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan accords the COL a central place in Malaysia’s labour market development.

"By identifying labour market needs as they arise, the COL is a powerful policy tool that can be used by governments, private sector, academia, job creators and job seekers alike.

"Our collaboration with the World Bank to create the COL was critical for its evolution into a best practice tool for labour market observation and analysis," he added.

The COL is updated and released yearly by the Critical Skills Monitoring Committee (CSC), led by TalentCorp and the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (ILMIA) under the Human Resources Ministry (MOHR).

Among the jobs in demand now are mathematicians, actuarists, statisticians, sales and marketing managers, university and higher education professional teachers and graphic and multimedia designers.

Meanwhile, World Bank Group Representative to Malaysia and Country Manager Firas Raad said Malaysia’s experience with the COL shows that effective skills monitoring can help expedite the process of addressing labour market shortages.

"The country’s experience also has important lessons for other countries that are looking for ways to monitor skills shortages in a fast-changing labour market.

"We look forward to collaborating more with the ministry, ILMIA and TalentCorp to help strengthen labour market outcomes in the country." he added.

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