Manufacturers need migrant workforce to rejuvenate the economy, group says

MANPOWER shortage in the manufacturing sector could derail economic recovery process especially when it comes to meeting orders at hand and aiding expansion plans, said the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

“It would also impact the ability to fulfil supply obligations as part of global supply chains given that Malaysia is a key manufacturing and supply chain hub in the region, on top of its contribution to the Malaysian economy.

“Hence, manpower shortage will cause serious implication to the sustainability of industries,” its president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said in a statement.

Currently, many countries are facing supply chain issues due to backlogs, while many other countries such as the US and the UK are facing spike in prices due to shortage of supply.

Malaysia too is facing severe hikes in food prices, which had been attributed to bottleneck in the supply chain and manpower shortage as the Government had restricted hires of migrant workers due to COVID-19 scare.

On that note, Soh appealed to the Government to lift the moratorium on hiring migrant workers to fill the gaps in unskilled general worker category as a short-term measure to assist the industry.

He added that to bring back business results to the pre-pandemic levels, the manufacturing industry needs about 600,000 migrant workers next year to meet current demand and boost new investments.

“We are grateful to the Government for opening up the economic sectors in stages based on the National Recovery Plan (NRP) as well as the vaccination programme.

Business recovery affected

“The opening up of the economic sectors was a huge relief to many industries whose businesses were suffering either due to total closure or reduced capacity rendering them incapable of meeting their order demands, with some even facing with cancellation of order contracts as the delays were too costly to their end customers.

“However, many are now faced with new challenges, especially employers in the manufacturing sector, who are facing acute manpower shortages, both at the skilled and unskilled level, but more critically in the unskilled level, which is hampering the pace of business recovery,” Soh mentioned.

He reminded the Government that the manufacturing sector is a pillar to Malaysia’s economic growth, contributing about 23% of the nation’s growth overall.

“The sector has a significant contribution to exports as in 86% of total exports in 2020, with a value of RM847.66 bil.

“The electrical and electronic (E&E) products held the biggest share of Malaysia’s total exports in 2020 at 39.4%, or RM386.11 bil,” Soh remarked. – Dec 4, 2021

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