KOTA KINABALU September 26, 2012: Sabah recorded an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent, with around 85,200 unemployed citizens in Sabah last year.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin said the percentage of unemployment was relatively low and had not increased despite an increase in population.
The percentage was higher than the national level at three per cent,
Pang said, but comparable to Australia which was regarded as a fairly resilient economy, and half of France at about 10.2 per cent.
As a comparison, unemployment rate in the United States and the United Kingdom stood at 8.1 per cent while Spain and Greece at 25.1 per cent and 24.2 per cent respectively.
“The principal statistics on employment for last year showed that there were over 1.64 million people in the labour force in Sabah, increasing from almost 1.59 million in 2010 and 1.35 million in 2009,” he said when officiating at the opening of a public forum on human capital development at Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), here yesterday.
Pang, who is also deputy chairman of Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia), said the 85,200 unemployed figure in Sabah was small in comparison with the number of foreign labour in Sabah, particularly those in the plantation and construction sectors.
“What is very much needed now is to locate where these unemployed citizens are, and ascertain their qualification and skill level to enable them to be trained so that they can provide a pool of human capital geared to drive the economic transformation programme.”
Pang pointed out that Sabah had the potential to leverage its strategic position to link the rapidly growing BIMP-EAGA to the dynamic north East Asian Economics.
Indeed, Sabah has emerged as one of the top investment destinations in Malaysia, while the country itself has become one of the top ten destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world, he said.
Human capital development, as Pang said, apart from being a crucial factor in driving our economy and achieving the target to become a high-income and developed nation, was clearly one of the key determinants to attract private investment as this would be one of the major considerations of investors.
“As SDC has attracted an impressive amount of private investment, it is therefore important to ensure that there is sufficient pool of human resources with the required skills to meet the manpower requirement of the investors.”
Pang said Sabah had passed the development stage where we were attracting investments due to the availability of cheap labour.
“We need to recognize that our ability to transform into a high income economy will depend on our ability to generate adequate human capital and adaptable labour force with higher skills, talents, expertise and knowledge.
“Sabah indeed can no longer be a haven for cheap labour,” he said.
He explained that Sedia had been visiting and discussing with higher learning institutions locally and overseas on academic research and development collaborations and enticing these institutions to consider setting up campuses in Sabah, particularly in those sectors needed to support SDC projects.
He said the initiative would be intensified as Sedia embarked on the second phase of SDC, with emphasis in accelerating sustainable growth through first-class human capital and infrastructure.
The second phase of SDC, which coincides with the Tenth Malaysia Plan (10MP), focused on accelerating economic growth by attracting greater private investment and to provide specialized infrastructure with first-world talent base.
“This will require a holistic set of measures involving active partnership between the public and private sectors as well as the NGOs to raise the quality of our pool of human capital.”
Pang said Sedia has been appointed to implement, manage and monitor the placement and funding under the National Talent Enhancement Programme (NTEP) which aims to financially assist under-employed and unemployed Malaysians possessing diplomas, undergraduate degrees and/or higher qualifications secure employment with companies within the SDC.
“This will be provided by Sedia mandated companies of skills enhancement training and industrial exposure in selected fields of specialization for a period of up to 12 calendar months,” he said.
Pang also urged more companies to participate in the NTEP programme, and job seekers who are interested to register with Sedia.
“I am confident that Sedia, together with the combined collaborative efforts among the government agencies, industry players, higher learning institutions and the skills training centres, will be able to overcome the challenges to address the human capital requirement of the State and play an active role towards the realization of the national vision of becoming high-income and developed nation.”
The hosting companies for NTEP present yesterday include PY Konsep Perunding Sdn Bhd, JPSPEC Sdn Bhd, hatareka Perunding Sdn Bhd, Power Project Consulting Sdn Bhd, Jurutera Perunding Sri Arif Sdn Bhd, Perundign Rekajasa, and Wang Haron & Goh Sdn Bhd.
Also present at the event was Sedia president cum chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Hj Johari.
by Chok Sim Yee