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NEWS UPDATES 28 April 2010

Malaysian minister: Skilled labour shortage a serious problem

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Malaysian International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) will bring up the problem of skilled workers shortage in the country to the Cabinet as soon as possible, local business daily the StarBiz reported.

The skilled labour shortage was very serious and warranted immediate attention, Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said after a meeting with six multinational corporations (MNCs) in Penang – Western Digital, Infineon, Motorola, Jabil, Plexus, and AMD.

“The companies say they do not mind paying higher levy for foreign workers. “So a possible solution is to adopt a flexible policy to attract foreign skilled workers,” Mustapa said, adding that collectively, these companies employed over 30,000 workers in the northern region.

Mustapa said one of the companies said it had spent around RM150mil to train some 450 engineers in 2006, and recently about 50 percent of them left the company.

“The electronics industry is on the upswing again and other countries in the region experiencing growth are also looking for skilled workers. We must also find a way to retain skilled workers,” he said adding that there was also a shortage of operators and technicians, Mustapa added.

“From the feedback of the six companies, Malaysian generally do not prefer to work in a semiconductor facility, as the working environment in a semiconductor plant is more difficult.

“They prefer to work in seven-eleven grocery outlets, although the pay is lower,” he said.

Mustapa said the ministry had also written to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) on the frequent disruption of power failure in Penang’s industrial estates.

“We are giving details of the breakdown for TNB to check and waiting to hear from them,” he said.

Mustapa said the six MNCs had plans to reinvest a total of over RM600mil this year, or some RM100mil from each company for this year.

“We are trying to maintain at least 60 percent of reinvestment and 40 percent of new investment for this year,” he said.

Mustapa later officiated the ground breaking ceremony for B. Braun Medical Industries Sdn Bhd’s new 300-milllion ringgit (1$=3.4 ringgit) plant.

B. Braun’s vice-president of operations Juergen Schloesser said the new building and new production lines would help its Penang operations to achieve about a 50 percent increase in production output by end-2013.

“The new building will increase the total production space by 131 percent from 23,200 sq m to 53,700 sq m and will be equipped with new automation production lines.”

According to him, B Braun is starting the research and development of new safety product portfolios and in 2013, it plans an additional 1.7 billion ringgit in investments for various expansion projects.


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