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Nonetheless, on course to a developed country and achieving the provision, the growth in construction sector has gradually cause the inflow of immigrant especially foreign workers from different countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bangladesh. It is a fact that Malaysia has been, and always be, a major destination country for migrant's worker (Amarjit Kaur, 2006a). There are about 70 per cent of migrant workers in construction industry (Malaysian Trade Union, 1991). As of December 2008, there were 2.06 million foreign workers, which Malaysia relies heavily on them to help out in the construction and plantation sectors (Economic Report 2004/2005). This reflects that foreign workers not only help in easing the problem of local workers scarcity in construction sector but also help keeping the labour cost relatively low.
The shortage of workers in the construction sector has been a national concern in view of the increasing number of projects that the government is embarking on for the 10th Malaysia Plan and the New Economic Model (Dato Sri Ar Hj. Esa Hj. Mohamed, 21 July 2010). The construction boom led to unprecedented influx of foreign workers who were needed to carry out the numerous tasks on construction sites. But these foreign workers came with little or no skills in construction work, resulting in many projects suffering from poor workmanship and defects (Rehda Bulletin, September 2006). It has frequently been reported in the local media about the rampant bad workmanship in construction (Dato Sri Ar Hj. Esa Hj. Mohamed, 21 July 2010). At the time of industry imported unskilled foreign workers to fill up the vacancies on construction site, it has also imported bad work ethnics and workmanship.
Recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on the nation to shift to a high income economy by adopting an approach based on "Innovation, creativity and high value-added initiative". This approach has the function to generate more employment opportunities among local workers. Besides that, the quality and competency of Malaysia workforce will be increased when employers shift into technology driven industries and higher value added economics activities. The reliance on foreign workers also will be reducing significantly. It has been a constant issue when the industry receives complaints about shoddy workmanship in the built environment. News on buildings collapsed or water tank falling through ceiling reinforce the need for construction industry to seriously address the issue of quality (Rehda Bulletin, September 2006). The involvement of foreign workers is necessary for Malaysia economy while also being a threat for construction industry in delivery quality building.
The root cause of poor quality in the construction can be avoided if adequate training and supervision is given. There is direct relation between quality of building and skills of workers (New Strait Times, 2007). In order to have successful execution in one construction project, project management and effective planning with the cooperation from all parties involved are vital. The construction works involve various parties and undoubtedly, foreign worker make up mostly as general workers in construction industry. Increasing number of Bangladesh was observed in manufacturing, agriculture services and construction sectors (National Symposium on Foreign Workers Policy, Oct 20-22, 2008). According to Datuk Roslan Awang Chik, heads of Malay Contractors Association, though the foreign worker is crucial in filling the gap, they are not very committed and not understand the system here. The government has put forward a plan to reduce dependency on foreign workers from 2.2 million to 1.5 million by 2015 (The Home Ministry's senior deputy secretary-general Raja Azahar Raja Abdul Manap). Construction industry is one of the industry will be affected and it has to adapt to a new environment which see reduction of reliance on foreign labour. A more comprehensive planning should be put up to overcome the challenges however.
This study attempts to find out the reasons why local construction company and developer willing to recruit foreign worker. In addition, the study will be focus on the effects towards on quality of workmanship due to employment of foreign workers. Solutions will also be found out and suggestion will be given to minimize the above problem.
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
From seventies to early of eighties, nearly 70 per cent of the foreign workers can be found in construction sector because the country was experiencing a construction boom (Ghosh, 1998). High demand for construction activities has attracted a huge number of foreign workers into this country to take up employment on site as unskilled labour. Foreign workers have been paid by the industry for doing manual jobs on site.
From the statistics shown by Immigration Department of Malaysia, the trend of foreign workers in Malaysia continued increase from 2001 to 2007. In the year of 2007, there are more than 2 million of foreign workers which is 9.4 per cent increase compared to the previous year. The lowest number of foreign labourers was recorded in 2001 that is 850 thousand workers. However the number had increase drastically by 25.6 per cent to 1.07 million in 2002. Referring to Mdm Azizah binti Arifin, Ministry of Human Resource, "there is a strong growth in foreign workforce of Malaysia from 1997-2008. As of March 2008, there were 2.2 million registered foreign workers in Malaysia. They comprise 18 per cent of country total labour force, of which 36 per cent are in manufacturing, 16 per cent in plantation, and about 15 per cent in construction and domestic work".
Figure 1.1 Number of foreign workers in Malaysia on 2001-2007
(Source: Department of Immigration Malaysia)
Viewing on the statistics, it shows the rapid increase of foreign workforce in Malaysia. A lot of side effects have been brought by this scenario including lower overall economic productivity, displacement of local workers, depressed wages, various social and safety concerns (National Symposium on Foreign Workers Policy, Oct 20-22, 2008). With the labour source from Labour Unions and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, MTUC, there is no shortage of local workers. The problem here is why the number of foreign workers is still continuing increase? What the main reasons of construction industry to recruit foreign workers as one of the employees on site?
In most of the industrialized and developed countries, the construction industry has always encountered serious shortage of construction workforce, aging workforce and fewer younger generations entering the construction field (Yates 1993; Gaylor 1997). The shortage of construction workers is largely rooted from such well-known causes as poor image, unclear career path, lack of training and education, declining wages, poor work environment (Seung H. Han: Sang H. Park, Eui J. Jin: Hyoungkwan Kim: Yeon K. Seong, 2008). To exaggerate the situation, local young generations prefer to look for easier job with same amount of wages and they refuse to join the industry because of bad perceptions towards job in construction industry. All of the causes above may be one of the reasons for labour shortage in construction industry. Whether the reluctant of local people to involve in construction industry have contributed to the inflow of foreign workers? What are the other factors that cause the inflow of foreign workers to Malaysia?
A report from the Department of Immigration Malaysia from 2003 to 2006 represents the percentage of foreign workers to total construction workforce. In 2003, the total number of construction workforce is 456,061 where the percentage foreign workers are 51per cent in 2003. Total construction workforce is the accumulative number of local workers and foreign workers in construction industry. In the following year 2004, the percentage of foreign workers decreases about 2% that is 49 per cent with total workforce of 537,978. After that, foreign workers percentages represent a comparative moderate percentage that is 44 per cent of total workforce in construction industry at year 2006. Even though there is a slightly drop in the percentage, it is still considered high which stand almost 40 per cent to total labour force in construction industry.
This statistic shows that construction industry in Malaysia was heavily dependence on foreign workers. The construction industry is operated and growth with the contribution of foreign workers. Without the involvement of local skilled construction workers, construction industry can only continue reliance on foreign workers who are subject to the vagaries of policy changes and poor in skill. Construction industry dependency on foreign workers has not change for decades. This sector faces a major challenge as local workers are not interested to replace the foreign workers and had shied away from working in construction sectors because construction job consist of 3D- dangerous, difficult and dirty (CIDB Newsletter, December 2001). Subsequently, the question here is the does the involvement of foreign workers in construction industry influence the quality of building? Is the skill possess by foreign workers can be regarded as shoddy workmanship? If yes, what are the effects that bring by foreign workers to the aspect of quality of workmanship in construction industry?
At last, the outcome of this study will result in variable impacts that bring to construction industry due to the quality of workmanship done by foreign workers. The outcome will shows on the skill that possess by foreign workers and kinds of training should be given to enhance the foreign workers workmanship. Besides that, the solutions can be undertaken by construction industry to maintain and upgrade the quality of building will also be found. At the same time ways to minimize the effect that bring by dissatisfaction workmanship of foreign workers will be obtain for future improvement.