PETALING JAYA, Apr 14 (Sin Chew Daily) — The construction sector is short of 800,000 to 1 million workers, leading to a 30% increase in labor cost, according to the industry players.
Currently, there are about 330,000 foreign workers in the sector. An estimated 150,000 workers have left the country due to the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) and expiry of work permits, said a senior management officer in the industry who declined to be named.
"About 150,000 foreign workers, mainly Indonesians, have left Malaysia since last year. They are unable to return to the country due to the MCO, leaving about 330,000 foreign workers in the construction sector," said the source.
The construction sector, which is estimated to face a shortage of 1 million workers, is in dire need of workers now.
The source also said manpower shortage could lead to slow progress of construction projects.
He said the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) had submitted a memorandum of understanding to the government requesting for approval to legalize undocumented migrant workers in a bid to make up for the shortfall.
He also said the construction sector was looking forward to bringing in more workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh to ease the shortage.
On the other hand, The Malaysian Insight (TMI) quoted the Selangor chairman of Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (REHDA) Datuk Ho Hon Sang that some of the new housing development projects had been put on hold due to shortage of workers.
He was quoted as saying the developers were concerned with the shortage of workers and had held back their new projects.
He said the developers would only launch new projects once the borders are reopened to allow the entry of foreign workers.
Ho said REHDA had started to encourage members to opt for Industrialized Building System (IBS) to resolve the labor shortage problem. The IBS has helped reduce reliance on foreign workers by 50%.
The government has suspended the entry of foreign workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.