The presence of foreign workers is one of the most critical issues facing the Malaysian construction market, as the increasing construction work which requires significant man-power. Most of the workers come from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam and India. What causes the increasing numbers foreign workers in the construction sites? The causes for the influx of foreign workers in Malaysia is the locals prefer to work in the office, lack of opportunity for career advancement and the construction work is unattractive to the locals. One of the causes influencing the influx of foreign worker is because the locals prefer to work in the office. Locals prefer to take employment in a comfortable environment like air conditioned factories and office which offering white collar jobs .
They prefer easier jobs. In addition, working in construction sectors require worker to work long hours. For example, working long hours on night shift is part and parcel of a number of jobs in construction sectors. Reports from the Labour Department exhibit indicate that many of the locals are not able to do this because they have family and other social obligations to fulfil. Hence, less local takers for the construction sectors. Furthermore, the causes for the lack of locals working in the construction sector is locals perceived that the working condition in the construction sector is very poor. The poor image of construction industry such as absence of job security and poor management. Another reason is the lack of opportunity for career advancement in the construction business causes local decline to join this sectors.
Nowadays, it is too common for local young generation to study until Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) level and even Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). With greater access to better and higher education, more and more Malaysians today are able to get a good education and have become skilled workers . For example, whenever a post graduate student finished study, they all waiting for their jobs offer and they expect a high class job that suits their standard. So the not so high class jobs are taken over by foreign workers.The higher education levels makes local choose not to work in construction sector . Therefore, the local youth in general perceived that construction sector are dirty, dangerous and demeaning. One other reason for the influx of foreign workers in Malaysia is that the construction work is unattractive to the locals.
Working in construction sectors is considered as unskilled and menial jobs. Most of the workers in these sector are doing unskilled job and it is not surprising that many locals find working in these sector as unattractive jobs. Furthermore, the construction sector is rather demanding. Other than that, unattractive salaries also makes the locals choose not to work in construction sector. Only few locals would want to work in the construction sector due to low wages for high risk jobs because locals expect to be paid high salary and less physical activities.
Department of Statistics and Ministry of Human Resources shows that number of labour force has increased 6.3 per cent from 10.24 million in 2003 to 10.89 million in 2007 while Statistics from Immigration Department of Malaysia shows that foreign workers in Malaysia continued to increase from 2001 to 2007. Indonesia accounted for the highest number of registered foreign workers in Malaysia at 50.9% followed by Bangladesh was second highest, accounting for 17% of the total foreign workers in Malaysia, Nepal at 9.7%, Myanmar 7.8%, India 6.3% and Vietnam 4.2%. In conclusion, the construction sectors need to seriously explore avenues to attract local to enter the construction industry by improving the image and working environment and this implies offering competitive wages and benefits, improved work safety procedures and instilling sense of pride in construction sectors.