Job vacuum inevitable if illegals sent home but will locals take over, asks don

Many migrants in Sabah work in the construction, plantation and agricultural sectors or as domestic workers.

KOTA KINABALU: A job vacuum is inevitable in the event of a crackdown on illegal immigrants, but whether locals will be ready to take over the work is questionable, says a Sabah economic psychological expert.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah psychology and education professor Murnizam Halik told FMT that foreigners largely dominated the construction, plantations and agricultural sectors and also worked as domestic helpers but many Sabahans shunned such jobs.

Low remuneration and the dangerous, dirty and difficult (3D) nature of these jobs are the main reasons for such a low take-up by locals, he said.

“I feel industries need to open up new sectors to attract locals, especially in manufacturing.

“But for the construction and plantation sectors, I’m not sure whether locals can fill the vacancies,” he said.

Yesterday, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri told reporters in Sepanggar near here that the military crackdown on illegal immigrants nationwide could open up more employment opportunities for locals in Sabah due to the job vacuum created when the foreigners are detained and subsequently repatriated.

Murnizam said there is no official data on the number of illegal immigrants hired in these four sectors but employers are constantly seeking workers.

The chances of locals applying for jobs in the fisheries and sundry shop business are higher. These jobs are now dominated by migrants.

He said more locals should be encouraged to open shops near their residential areas.

Murnizam believed those laid off due to the Covid-19 lockdown would also be more willing to take up any kind of work.

“However, when the economy improves and better jobs are made available, they may seek better opportunities,” he said.

Murnizam said age was also a factor as to whether an unemployed person would take up a 3D job.

For instance, he said a middle-age manager who got laid off during the movement control order period will not find work in the construction industry due to the risks and strenuous work involved.

“3D jobs would always be available due to the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

Murnizam said better perks must be given for Sabahans to take up jobs vacated by migrants.

Recently, Sabah Education and Innovation Minister Yusof Yacob, who is also the minister in charge of human resources, said 4,900 Sabahans had lost their jobs during the lockdown.

The state government had allocated RM20 million for retraining and re-skilling of the jobless in the state under the Covid-19 stimulus package unveiled by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal recently.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.