Malaysian government wants more locals to replace foreign workers

The Malaysians @ Work programme targets graduates, women and apprentices with incentives for workers and companies to help create 350,000 jobs.
By: | October 14, 2019

It sounds ambitious and it is. The Malaysian government is unhappy with the country’s reliance on foreign workers.

So it has launched its Malaysians@Work initiative to reduce the number of foreign workers by more than 130,000.
The ultimate aim of the programme is to create around 350,000 jobs for locals by focusing on four key components – graduates, apprentices, women and low-skilled workers.

Qualifying employees will be paid RM500 (S$164) a month for two years on top of their normal salaries. And employers taking part in the two-year scheme will get up to RM300 (S$98) a month for every new local employee.

The scheme was announced at Malaysia’s Budget 2020 presentation and will cost RM6.5 billion (S$2.1billion) over five years.

Malaysia is heavily dependent on foreign workers, who are concentrated in manual roles. There are some 1.76 million foreign workers who work legally in Malaysia, with another 4 to 5 million believed to be working illegally.

The Graduates @ Work component is aimed at encouraging the hiring of college graduates who have been unemployed for more than 12 months, while Apprentice @ Work is an education and training incentive programme.

Women @ Work aims to create 33,000 job opportunities a year for women who have stopped working for a year or more, and are aged between 30-50 years old.

On top of these incentives, the Malaysian government wants to raise the minimum wage in major cities to RM1,200 (S$393) per month from next year.