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A year of challenges

  • Thanks to several new government policies, both the employers and employees will come under tremendous pressure as the new year dawns.

Sin Chew Daily

A new year should be one that promises refreshing new changes, but for Malaysian employers and employees alike, they are instantly put under tremendous pressure as the new year dawns.

Employers will have to come face-to-face with new challenges that come with the new measures to be introduced this year.

The new foreign worker levy policy is poised to increase the operating cost of employers. Other new measures that will put additional pressure on the shoulders of employers include the employment insurance scheme (EIS) and the review of minimum wage scheme later this year in July.

Some employers have already warned their employees of possible retrenchments as they tighten their cost control.

Cost management aside, some of the companies may also invest in new technologies and techniques to reduce their reliance on manpower.

Indeed, many companies have increasingly turned to automation and digitization of their operations to gradually cut back their manpower needs, a trend that is taking place in many countries globally today.

In view of this, the MEF has boldly estimated drastically higher layoff rate this year, with over 50,000 workers likely to lose their jobs.

Many SMEs lament a lack of pro-business measures from the government that has impacted their revenues. Nevertheless, the government promises incentives for those keen to embrace Industry 4.0, including extension of 200% automation equipment capital allowances.

Following the launch of DFTZ last year, China's Alibaba is set to boost the local industry in business digitization. However, local operators must also step up their innovativeness in a bid to catch up with the big global trend.

For most wage earners, it is invariable that their salaries will no longer keep up with the rise in goods prices. Many may have to take up part-time jobs to supplement their meager incomes, or simply tighten their belts to make ends meet. The Industry 4.0 trend may leave many worrying about the prospects of keeping their jobs until year-end.

Having said that, automation may actually boost the employment prospects of some, as companies will require professionally trained personnel to man the equipment.

As Malaysians generally shun the building industry, most construction jobs have gone to foreigners. With the introduction of industrialized building system (IBS) and heavier cost burden from foreign worker levy, Malaysian employees may be preferred by our employers now.

How should local employees deal with the prevailing economic situation will very much depend on market demands as well as their own attitude. Workers must inculcate a stronger sense of responsibility and strive to boost their personal values. They may even have to stoop themselves under specific circumstances in order to keep their jobs.

Generally speaking, there are always opportunities lurking behind the risks. The survival of a business depends on whether the leaders of this business will remain constantly alert to new challenges and come up with timely solutions to avert the unfavorable conditions.

As for employees, they must keep upgrading themselves in their personal values as well as job competency.

The year ahead is going to be a very tough one. Now that the road is laid before us, it is our duty to decide how we are going to walk down the road.

 

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