KUALA LUMPUR: A labour market intervention step should be implemented by focusing on middle-income workers, who are being squeezed, as reported by the Ministry of Finance in the Economic Outlook 2024, said Human Resources Minister, V. Sivakumar (pix).

He said that currently, the data shows that semi-skilled workers receive almost the same salary as low-skilled workers.

“Based on the Statistics and Wages Malaysia 2022 report, the median monthly wage for semi-skilled workers is RM1,817, compared with RM1,635 received by low-skilled workers,” he said, winding up debate on the Supply Bill 2024 for the Ministry of Human Resources at the policy level in the Dewan Rakyat, today.

He said that the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) report last year showed that the composition of semi-skilled workers was the highest at 58 per cent, while 30 per cent were skilled workers and the remaining 12 per cent were low-skilled workers, out of a total of 15.4 million workers.

Regarding the minimum wage, Sivakumar said that the review of the minimum wage order is now 70 per cent complete, taking into account socioeconomic indicators such as the poverty line income, the median wage which reflects the employer’s ability to pay wages, the unemployment rate, labour productivity and the change in the Consumer Price Index which reflects the cost living.

The study, conducted by the National Wages Consultative Council (MPGN), is important in ensuring that the adjustment of the minimum wage order made is an evidence-based policy, he said.

Sivakumar said that looking at the data released by DOSM in 2022, the salaried income of the people increased to 62.8 per cent, due to the increase in the minimum wage in that year.

In addition, he said that the progressive wage policy will also be implemented as a complement to the Minimum Wage Policy and the Productivity-Linked Wage System (PLWS), which ensures that any wage increase is in line with increased productivity or higher performance.

“As of September 2023, a total of 98,119 employers have implemented PLWS and benefited 5.9 million workers in various job levels, including semi-skilled workers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sivakumar said that his ministry, through the Human Resource Development Corporation, is committed to encouraging employees to continue to improve their knowledge base, through skills training based on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.

He said that until Sept 30, a total of 258,862 training venues were approved to carry out training, involving allocations amounting to RM124.04 million.

“Apart from that, the Human Resource Development Corporation also offers online learning, through the e-LATIH platform. As of Sept 30 this year, a total of 1,900 courses were offered for free, involving 350,000 registrations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, when winding up the debate for her ministry, said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is working with the Ministry of Higher Education to lift the moratorium on the opening of new private nursing colleges.

She said the move was among efforts to increase the number of local nurses and human resources at health facilities, thus overcoming the issue of shortage of health workers.

“Nurses at MOH health facilities are mostly graduates from ILKKM (MOH Training Institute), and absorbed directly into MOH...we are also looking in the future, to get human resources (nurses) from both public and private institutions of higher learning (IPTA and IPTS).

“Other efforts include increasing the number of MOH-sponsored nursing diploma trainees from 1,000 to 2,000 every year,” she said.

In addition, she said that MOH is also open to examining proposals to offer job opportunities to retired former nurses and health experts, to return to serve in public health facilities.

On the issue of hiring foreign-trained nurses (JTWA) without a post-basic qualification by private health facilities, Dr Zaliha said that the MOH agreed to give conditional relaxation, which is the recruitment of JTWA for 12 months, from Oct 1, 2023, to Sept 30, 2024, and the service can be extended for up to 12 more months, based on approvals by the JWTA Temporary Practising Certificate (TPC).

She said that the move was to help increase capacity and optimise private health services, thus supporting public-private collaboration in the country’s health sector. -Bernama