THE unemployment figure in Brunei Darussalam is shocking to say the least. This high figure is despite the fact more than 44,000 were offered jobs in five industries last year.
Some of the statistics the Minister of Home Affairs gave are quite telling. Only 15,000 plus locals are employed in over 1,200 companies as against nearly 29,000 foreigners.
The government has taken many steps to address the local unemployment numbers including reserving many jobs only for locals.
Over 90 per cent of staff in my company are locals and I am proud to be one among them.
What else can the government do to help the private sector hire more locals?
The high rate of attrition is one of the major issues that the private sector has that needs to be addressed.
The government on its part says salary packages for locals need to be attractive though not on a par with the government. But the private sector can never match government pay scales.
The result is there for all to see. There seems to be an invisible conveyor belt that regularly takes private sector employees to the public sector.
Yes, the private sector companies call it “poaching”. For the locals, a job in the public sector is like their “life’s ambition achieved”.
No-one can be blamed – neither the private sector, nor the public sector or even the local who is making the move. All stand justified in their stance.
But the unemployment numbers are growing, which must be a cause for concern for the government.
It’s a real catch 22 situation for the government.
Brunei Darussalam continues to need professionals in all sectors. With a limited population, the country can’t do much but to opt for foreigners in some specialised fields.
Take the case of Singapore. Despite foreign recruitment being a hot-button issue for the country, even the country of around four million can’t manage without them.
It will definitely take some more years before Brunei can address the issue of foreign workforce.
Maybe 2035 could be the target for Brunei. The Brunei Vision, as we call it, should ensure a 100 per cent local force in both private and public sector. Plans have to be in place to achieve that vision, which certainly looks lofty now. But it’s achievable.
Local entrepreneurs are giving a big helping hand and the government should provide all the help they need to help the locals grow successfully.
But for now, we need foreigners to grow. It’s up to the government to ensure quotas are given only to the deserving.
– Localisation the way forward