In reference to the opinion letter, ‘Foreign worker shortage in the way of recovery’, published in the Bulletin on May 14, the Department of Labour would like to inform the writer that the recruitment process of foreign workers involves the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), through JobCentre Brunei (JCB), the Department of Labour and the Department of Immigration and National Registration, as well as various government agencies that act as regulators for the respective sectors.
The priority of JCB is to promote local employment. However, with the increase in foreign manpower leaving the country, the vacancies have not been filled as quickly as anticipated, affecting the operations of business.
In light of the situation, a whole-of-government approach has been taken to put measures in place to support businesses in rebuilding operations impacted by the pandemic. The measures include JCB’s identification of priority sectors, introduction of exempted positions, reduction in processing time for renewal applications from five working days to two, and collaboration with different ministries as regulators of various sectors.
Since last December, employers have been given the flexibility to retain their foreign workers after the lapse or expiry of their current contract, either through an extension of the contract or to enter into a new contract for another two years, in a bid to address the issue of manpower shortage in various sectors.
The Labour Department, along with JCB and relevant regulators, have also revised requirements in relation to the foreign worker licence application in construction and other priority sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, retail, and food and beverages, to streamline the process to make it more transparent and efficient.
Between March 1 and May 14, 3,814 applications for the foreign worker licence have been received and processed, comprising 14,016 foreign workers in various sectors: 29.7 per cent (4,161 foreign workers) in construction; 25.3 per cent (3,548 foreign workers) in wholesale and retail trade; 14.3 per cent (2,006 foreign workers) in accommodation and food services; 9.6 per cent (1,339 foreign workers) in manufacturing; 4.5 per cent (630 foreign workers) in administrative and support services; and 3.2 per cent (447 foreign workers) in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
While steps have been taken to support businesses with foreign manpower during these challenging times, JCB will also continue to ensure that there are job opportunities available for local jobseekers.
As of May 14, there were over 3,000 vacancies advertised on the JCB portal.
The Department of Labour and JCB would like to thank the writer for highlighting the issue of foreign worker shortage.
We also advise businesses, employers and licensed employment agencies to manage applications for the foreign worker licence well to avoid delays in obtaining approval.
Department of Labour
Ministry of Home Affairs