KOTA KINABALU (FRI): The Institute for Development Studies (Sabah) will be organising a hybrid forum titled Labour Shortages in Sabah: Foreign Workers Issue on Tuesday, 21st March 2023 at 9.00 a.m., at IDS Hall. Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Jeffrey G. Kitingan, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister I cum Agriculture and Fishery Minister is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.


In a statement earlier, the CEO of IDS, Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr. Ramzah Dambul said that Sabah economy relies heavily on foreign labour despite implementations of various efforts to overcome the lack of manpower. “The issue of manpower in Sabah has evidently deepened post COVID-19 with many industries facing critical shortages of manpower specifically labour-intensive sectors such as plantation and construction,” he further explained.


Recognising that the workforce crisis in Sabah is critical to be addressed, IDS in its Human Capital Development Blueprint has put forward proposals to tackle the issue which include the need to strengthen and upgrade farming skills, to adopt digitalisation and technology advancement, as well as to encourage local participation. Datuk Dr. Ramzah stressed the importance of automation as an effective long-term solution. “The Government must encourage the development of home-grown technology and innovations, so that the industry can eventually automate certain parts of the labour-intensive processes,” he added, further explaining that to encourage local participation especially Sabahan youths, the job must be made attractive with benefits that can match job opportunities offered elsewhere such as Kuala Lumpur.


Datuk Dr. Ramzah proposed for a committee to be reactivated in line with a concerted effort to address the critical issue of manpower shortage. He reiterated that, “the committee should be put directly under the Sabah Economy Advisory Council (SEAC) to provide better access to high-level decision making”. Datuk Dr. Ramzah assured that IDS’ research team is ready to be mobilised to assist the relevant sectors in their effort to address the State’s manpower issues and therefore, this forum is timely to catalyse the progress.


The coming forum aims to facilitate the platform of discussion between the government and relevant stakeholders to share best practices and craft a holistic approach to address the issue of manpower shortages in Sabah especially in the plantation sector. The esteemed panellists for the forum are Dr. Bilson Kurus, Head of Research & Information Division of POIC, presenting on the Overview of the Labour Situation in Sabah; Mdm. Marilyn David Din, Deputy Head of Foreign Labour Division of Immigration Department Sabah, with her presentation Thinking Forward for Workforce Development for Sabah; Datuk Justin Guka, Chairman of Konsortium Koperasi Penanam Sawit Mampan Sabah Berhad, Sharing of Experience and the Best Ways of Overcoming the Workforce Challenges for Sabah; Mr. Thomas Lim Sau Fong, Deputy Chairman of the East Malaysian Planters’ Association, Sharing of Experience of the Current Situation of Workforce in Plantation Sector in Sabah; Mr. Nelson Mosinoh, President of Sabah and Labuan Skills Training Centre-National Dual Training System Association (PLK-SLDN), Sharing of Experience on Workforce Challenges in Sabah; and Mr. Mohd Azzahari Bin Kasim, Ketua Bahagian Pekerja Bukan Pemastautin, Jabatan Tenaga Kerja Sabah, presenting on Labour Development Policy for Sabah.

This forum is open to the public via zoom. For more information visit www.ids.org.my or email the secretariat at [email protected] .



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