Hotel associations in Malaysia are disappointed that the hotel industry has been excluded as a critical sector for employment of foreign workers in the Human Resources Ministry’s plans to ease foreign worker recruitment processes.

The ministry is planning to make it easier and faster for companies in five critical sectors and sub-sectors – manufacturing, construction, plantation, agriculture and services (restaurants only) – to hire foreign workers. Employers in these approved industries will be able to submit applications for hiring foreign workers through the Foreign Worker Centralised Management System (FWCMS) platform under the FWe Approval Module.

Housekeeper cleaning hotel room during Covid
Hotels are finding it tough to attract local workers, who perceive hotel jobs as being dirty, dangerous and difficult

A joint press statement by the three hotel associations in Malaysia, namely Malaysian Association of Hotels, Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners and Malaysia Budget & Business Hotel Association, pointed out that prior to the pandemic, the hotel sector had always been consistently ranked as the top three tourism receipt contributors every year and is among the top five for total employment in the larger tourism industry.

Representatives said: “Our sector was one of the worst hit during the pandemic, as businesses were unable to operate due to the declined patronage and strict pandemic standard operating procedures of the time; displacing many employees from the hospitality industry which then were snapped up by other industries.

“The hotel sector has found it difficult to replenish our workforce as hotel jobs are perceived as 3D – dirty, dangerous and difficult work – which has long been considered unappealing by locals.

“We also have a problem recruiting new talents as the younger generation… prefers gig economy jobs and tend not to prefer working long hours despite overtime pay.

“Previously-employed hotel staff that were displaced due to the pandemic also are not keen on rejoining, as they have built their careers in other sectors during the lapsed period.

“Locals do not tend to stay long on hotel jobs and their high turnover rate adversely affect hotel operations, as it means we cannot maintain a consistent standard of service for our patrons.”

Representatives stressed that without adequate manpower, the hospitality industry will not be able to provide adequate services to patrons and that will lead to declining standards and ultimately, undermine the government’s efforts to make Malaysia the destination of choice for tourism.

When contacted, Shaharuddin M Saaid, executive director, Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners, said the associations would write officially to the Human Resources Ministry for a meeting so they can plead their case that the hospitality industry should be included as a critical sector and be allowed to hire foreign workers.



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