This was one of the areas the country could look at seriously, to reduce the number of immigrant workers in the country while prioritising jobs for locals, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
He noted the dependency on foreign labour was “very great”, to such an extent the government applied strong measures to ensure locals were employed in the country’s main industries.
“To get Malaysians to work, what is required are people with training, knowledge upgrade…in the case of Sabah, we have the Monfort Youth Training Centre, so what I want to do is try to see if their programmes can be tailored for the plantation industry, so there will be a ready source of employees when they graduate.
“I think this applies to the many training establishments that we have in the country,” he said after launching the ‘Career in Plantation Industries and Commodities Sector Talk and Exhibition here Sunday.
He said for a country employing so many immigrant labourers, it was therefore, not right to see its own people not being able to secure jobs.
The nation’s plantation industry, he said, was currently employing nearly half a million foreign workers, mainly from neighbouring countries, and more than 50 per cent are those in Sabah.
As at January this year, there are 1.9 million registered foreign workers in the country, a drop of 200,000 from 2.1 million registered foreign workers as at September last year, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in May.
Asked for reasons why locals were not entering the plantation sector, Dompok said it was based on a mixture of factors, adding that he was currently in talks with plantation owners to overcome this issue.
“Maybe, one way is to upgrade the facilities in the plantation, for example living acommodation or quarters,” he said.