Skills and employability

New pact to boost skills in Malaysia construction industry

ILO and Master Builders Association Malaysia team up to increase employability and facilitate career progression of workers, particularly women and vulnerable youth.

Press release | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 08 June 2022

Workers at a construction site in Malaysia. ©MBAM
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (ILO news) – The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) will collaborate to boost skills and support career development in the construction sector particularly for women and youth.

A partnership agreed between the ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity Programme in Malaysia (SfP-Malaysia) and MBAM, a leading association in Malaysia’ construction industry, will further enhance MBAM’s capacity as a skills body. It will also help the industry find the skilled workers it needs in traditional and emerging occupations.

Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Sufri Bin Haji Mhd Zin, President of the Master Builders Association Malaysia, said: “Slow employment growth, poor and stagnant wages and widening inequality are slowing poverty reduction. MBAM hopes that the launch today will be a symbolic spark to push the construction industry to sustainable skills development, better employment growth, shared prosperity and greater equality.”

Highlighted by the latest Twelfth Malaysia Plan as one of the five drivers of economic growth and job creation, the construction sector is expected to expand by 4.2 per cent per annum. Additionally, its productivity is projected to increase through adoption of technology and modern construction methods. To realise these goals, as well as create more decent and quality jobs, the construction industry requires more skilled workers in traditional and emerging occupations.

However, the sector faces skills shortages. This is partly due to limited opportunities for workers to join industry-relevant and work-based training, especially for some specialised trades. Furthermore, attracting diverse talent remains a challenge for the industry. For example, women account for less than 10 per cent of total employment in the sector.

The new partnership addresses these and other issues in a way that enables industry to have greater involvement in skills development and strengthen its partnerships with key stakeholders. It will also support growth of the sector while enhancing policies and institutional mechanisms.

Moreover, the collaboration will improve skills utilisation, employability, and career development paths for women and youth from vulnerable groups in Malaysia. This will be done through the enhancement of a sector skills strategy, the delivery of industry-led technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and the development of gender-sensitive career progression maps.

Panudda Boonpala, Deputy Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said: “This partnership comes at the right time and strikes the right chord. It gives MBAM a greater role in promoting quality apprenticeship programmes and training that responds to industry needs and creates decent work opportunites.”

Over the next eight months, MBAM will design and implement planned activities in coordination with its own member firms, government agencies, TVET institutions, industry partners, workers’ organizations, and other social partners.

Kebur Azbaha, Acting Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission Malaysia, stressed the importance of a comprehensive skills development system in which both government and industry participate as equal partners.

He said: “TVET and skills training should be driven by industry demand to address the critical issue of skills-job mismatch in the labour markets, now and in the future.”

SfP-Malaysia will assist MBAM with technical support and tools, sharing the ILO’s experience in various countries while promoting the development of local training models.

Apart from capacity development for MBAM staff and industry leaders, this partnership will carry out pilot quality apprenticeship programmes for women and youths from vulnerable groups in Klang Valley and Selangor, where most MBAM member firms operate.

Results and lessons consolidated from the pilot activities will be channelled into a sector skills strategy document and toolkits, and into a set of policy recommendations that will then be shared with key stakeholders.

Notes to editor:

SfP-Malaysia is part of the ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity in South-East Asia Programme (SfP-SEA), which also operates in Indonesia and the Philippines and is funded by the UK government. The programme aims to enhance equity, quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of TVET and skills systems in the three countries.

Established in 1954 with the aim of developing and advancing the construction industry, MBAM has over 1,000 members from various sub-sectors of the construction industry. MBAM is highly committed to skills development and has also been actively supporting underprivileged youths who aspire for a career in the construction industry through their scholarship programmes.