Malaysia’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) has said in a statement yesterday (Jan 9) that claims by some quarters that 50,000 workers will be laid off this year due to the rising cost of conducting business are incorrect.
‘While there will be retrenchment, in our view most of those retrenched workers will be reemployed by new and expanding businesses and the total number of retrenchments this year may not be as high as claimed,’ noted Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, the minister of International Trade and Industry.
MITI organised a dialogue session on 8 January 2018 with the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and 21 of its members, following the discussion on issues surrounding the cost of doing business and employment opportunities at a Cabinet Meeting and Economic Council Meeting.
As the country transitions from a labour-intensive economy to a knowledge-driven one, the minister said the government has been responding to the evolving needs of industry by taking concerted steps to prepare a workforce that can meet the changing nature of jobs.
He adds: ‘These include strategies to upgrade skills and reskill the workforce, especially against the backdrop of megatrends such as Industry 4.0 and automation.’
In addition, Mustapa pointed out that Malaysia’s sustainable economic growth, 5.9% in the first nine months of 2017 and a forecast of 5.0-5.5% in 2018, would impact employment opportunities positively, including areas such as aerospace and the digital economy.
‘It is also important to note that as at Q3 2017, the total employed persons have increased to 14.48 million from 14.42 million in the previous quarter.’
Moreover, the minister said the current unemployment rate of around 3.3% is the lowest in the region and expected to remain stable.
The statement further added that a total of 2.26 million jobs so far have been created under the Economic Transformation Programme.
‘In the three year period 2014-2016, new manufacturing projects implemented have created over 153,000 jobs. An additional 32,700 jobs in the manufacturing sector will be created from the investment secured in the period Jan-Sept 2017.’
On the issue of foreign workers, Mustapa said the dialogue with FMM highlighted the need for a holistic review of policies on foreign labour, and to enhance administrative efficiency to promote a more conducive business environment.
The minister affirmed that MITI will continue to engage with the private sector, bridging the gap between their demands and government policies.
‘We believe that the implementation of sound macroeconomic policies, Budget 2018 proposals and the 11th Malaysia Plan, as well as strong exports and continued strong investment flows will generate more jobs in the country.’ he concluded.
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