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Malaysia is presently experiencing a new era of prosperity. The government formulated and implemented a series of development plans and laid foundation for the development in the country. There is rapid growth especially in construction sector. This bought high demand in construction labour. According to (The Star Online, 22 December 2007), Year 2007 number of reports have highlighted the outflow of construction professional and skilled labour segments of the jobs market. Many skilled workers in the construction sector have moved to Vietnam, Singapore or the Middle East in pursuit of better pay and career prospects.
When we talk about labour crisis in construction industry, number is not only issue impinging on the manpower development of the industry. Due to certain reasons, local workforce is less interested to work in the construction industry. This phenomena may bought huge impacts to the development of the industry. Local workforce is still thinking that the jobs in this sector are not dignified enough besides being labeled dirty, dangerous and difficult. Therefore as a last result to overcome the acute shortage of manpower, the industry hired foreign workers. The group of foreign workers hired by the industry basically unskilled, acquires their work knowledge while assisting the more experienced workers, and thus is not meeting the industry's skill standards. Malaysia construction sector should encouraged to plan their human resource requirements to progressively reduce their dependence on low- skilled labour, particularly foreign unskilled labour.
Blue color Skill labour shortages are a common problem across construction industry. Skill shortages are most common in times of strong economic growth and low unemployment. The causes of skill shortages are complex. There are many drivers that could be causing a shortage in a region or occupation. Working conditions and wages play an important role in skill shortages. In occupations where there are poor conditions or wages, the problem may not be in the supply of labour, but rather in the willingness of labour to take up positions. Skilled labour shortage bought a lot effects and impacts neither to construction industry nor society. Thus, it is important that to find out the effective ways to chops with skilled labour shortage to avoid this phenomena further affect the economic growth.
In construction industry, the job scope for Carpenters is construct, erect, install or repair structures, fittings or furniture made of wood; building frameworks including partitions, joists, struts and rafters; wood staircase, window and door frames; and hardwood floors using their skills and tools. They build wood framing for houses, roofs, stairs, decks and construct formwork to support concrete work such as footings, columns and stairs. Besides that, they also involves carpentry work to install cabinets, siding, drywall rails, building cabinets and counter tops and may include work on drywall, wood flooring, metal jambs and ceilings. Normally carpenters are skilled in exterior and interior finish work.
The skilled labour shortage can be attributed not only to the economic boom, but also to the fact that people are choosing more academic type qualifications. (CIDB, 2003)As a result, many companies are now searching for skilled labour to meet their needs. The shortage of skilled labour can result from an increase in the demand for labour. (Liew, Wee Yee, 2005), this can be interpreted as demand is more than supply. There are several diverse factors have contributed to the construction industry's shortages of skilled workers; these factors include local and young generation unwilling to join, wages problem, poor industry image, working environment and condition, government policy, economic factor.
In Malaysia, local youths would rather be unemployed despite working in the construction industry. This is attributed to the archaic employment practices, outdoor work and prevalence of the temporary and casual labour. (Saleh Aman@Shiadri, 2008). Usually people will feel the construction workers lack superiority, class and respectability. Youngster is not willing to take over the manual techniques from their parent (skilled worker). This will leave to the skills gaps which will leave by old generation who are retirement. Youngster prefers work that is less strenuous with more comfortable working conditions. According to Ng Seing Liong, "Now that I sit on the CIDB, I know it is facing a lot of problems. It can't find Malaysians to be trained in the wet trades, such as masonry, carpentry. In comparison, Indonesian workers are so easily available." The statement above meant for the local, it's very difficult to find the Malaysian to do as a construction worker compared to foreign worker.
Working as construction worker, the wage is usually paid on daily basis. For example, if that construction worker unable to work that particular working day, will cause no income for that day. According to report for Average Daily Wage Rate of Construction Workers and Machine & Plant Operator January 2009, the wages for skilled worker will higher compared to unskilled worker and the scale of wage is also different from each state/ area in the Malaysia. Besides that, the poor paymaster (MBAM, 2007) also becomes the major issue in the Construction industry. Income is the major consideration for people to entry the industry. Issues as above mentioned will create a barrier for people choose to work in construction industry. Statement above can be proved by Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Datuk Ng Kee Lee, he had mentioned that the Act was vital to protect the interests of all players in the construction industry and the association had appealed to the Malaysia government to bring the Act into force.
Executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation said that Malaysian workers are not willing to work on a plantation or construction site because it is hard work under the sun. Many of the 26 millions Malaysian workers want white collar jobs (Bloomberg News, 2005). In Malaysia, tough working condition is also is the barrier for people to entry the industry. The construction industry is unique among industries. The activities of construction often take place outdoor risky conditions which not safety and healthy and extremely hot weather. Workers in the construction sites have to face persistent change in the nature of work, the location of work and the mix of workers. The nature of most accidents at construction recurrent and serious shows that the construction industry is unique. As buildings become higher and larger, the possibility of accidents to occur also increases. The danger posed to personal safety by construction work is one of the reasons why Malaysian is unwilling to take up careers in it. According to Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, an average of eighty workers was killed in such accidents. Inspection conducted by Department of Safety and Health (DOSH) found that one of the main contributory factors of accidents at construction sites was the lack of commitment by employers to implement measures to improve occupational safety and health. Construction sites rated as unsatisfactory were not managed in accordance to best practices. And most of the time, were not in compliance with the laws and regulations governing construction activities. Accidents at the construction site do not only involve workers, but may also inflict injury or even cause death to the general public. Such accidents had tarnished the image of construction industry. In conclusion, the poor working environment and condition is also contributed to the skilled labour shortage problem in Malaysia.
The latest report revealed that there were approximately 1.9 million foreign workers in Malaysia. These foreign workers were dustribute across sectors such as manufacturing (39 %), construction (19 %), plantation (14 %), housemaids (12 %), services (10 %), remainder were in agriculture sector.(accessed to www.themalaysianinsider.com) From the figure above, we can know that 19% of 1.9 million foreign worker is work in construction industry. The government of Malaysia move to diminish the number of foreign workers in the country to 1.5 million by 2010 will even worsen the issues of construction skilled labour shortage as the local already less interested working as skilled worker in the construction industry. The policy will stop the potential construction skilled worker which can come to our country for working.
More recently, another change that has affected the inflow of new labour in construction industry is the educational change that has impacted younger generation. More people are seeking higher education in an effort to secure a more lucrative profession and consequently live a better life than their parents did. It appears that here, a stigma is being cast upon construction trades as dirty, dangerous and difficult. The term construction worker has negative impact for young people. Most commonly see the construction worker lacks prestige, class and respectability. It is projected that the proportion of the overall labour force with tertiary education to increase to 21.1 per cent in 2006 (20 percent in 2005) in line with the government.s concerted efforts at enhancing the quality of human capital in the country (Bernama, 2001).