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Stop eternally blaming Malaysian workers

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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To say that Malaysian youths do not want to choose technical and vocational education pathways as a progressive option is a fallacy, writes JD Lovrenciear.

At the TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] Empowerment: Industry Dialogue on 26 September 2019, Malaysian Employers Federation president Azman Shah reportedly said that many foreign workers were here because locals are choosy about jobs.

According to him, the “statistics speak for themselves” and only a few Malaysians are unemployed.

For a long time, Malaysian businessmen have been aiming for huge profit margins. Foreign workers were a sure bet for such employers.

The government, past and present, has been helplessly abetting the huge influx of cheap foreign workers, many of whom are now doing skilled and semi-skilled jobs. This also earns revenue for government coffers from the fees imposed to bring in foreign workers.

To say that Malaysian youths do not want to choose technical and vocational education pathways as a progressive option is a fallacy. For decades, we allowed foreigners to take on these jobs and paid them low wages.

This robbed Malaysians of the option to take up these jobs. We cannot expect anyone to work unreasonably long hours, to live in dormitories or in storage cabins and to not get married and have families. But we have been doing this to the foreign workers for decades and making huge profits, mind you.

Even a local chemical engineering or IT graduate with five years’ work experience will find it hard to land a job paying well above RM5, 000 a month. Why? Just look at the number of foreign graduates brought in to take up these jobs. Lately, we even see graphic designer and printing specialist jobs being given to foreign workers.

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Yes, Azman, Malaysians are “fully employed”. That is because the rising cost of living, low wages, contract employment and shrinking purchasing power are forcing Malaysians to moonlight. Malaysians are taking up all kinds of extra jobs including working as ride-hailing drivers and food delivery and despatch riders. These days foreigners too are driving delivery vehicles and lorries all over the country.

It is time we stopped betraying the nation. If we want the nation to be more developed and progressive, we must not be so dependent on migrant workers or neglect technical and vocational education and training pathways.

The oft-repeated claims that Malaysians are lazy, don’t want to do the “three D” jobs or are all happily and fully employed must stop.

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