Malaysia’s jobless rate rising; Penang full employment, CM Christmas messages


Penang CM opening Solar coPenang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng looking at the artist impression of  The Top Komtar roof top project together with Only World Group chairman and group CEO Dato Richard Koh during the ground breaking ceremony, October 29, 2013. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

Prospective job hunters unable to score employment elsewhere in the country should try their luck north.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced today a booming market in the northern state, so much so that employers are hard put to find sufficient qualified manpower to fill 20,000 vacancies critical to keep their entrprises running.

“There is a growing [sic] at the increased in unemployment rate in the country which is at 3.3 per cent in October 2013, an increase of 0.2 per cent from the 3.1 per cent in September this year,” Lim said, citing figures released by the Department of Statistics.

Official date from the departmen showed the number of unemployed in the country to total 462,300 people, an increase of 19,100 people from September to October.

In contrast, the number of people with jobs was cut by 98,500, leaving 13.7 million people employed out of a total population of 28 million.

“Despite the rise in unemployment rate in Malaysia, Penang continues to see not just full employment but a shortage of at least 20,000 workers,” he added in his Christmas message statement.

Lim attributed Penang’s high employment rate to its recent successes in securing several critical foreign direct investments (FDI).

He said his state government will be making several important announcements on these FDIs next month, with a promise that the details will fulfil Penang’s pro-growth and pro-jobs objectives that he boasted had become its policy since he took control of the state in 2008.

“Penang has neither been distracted nor detracted from seeking sustainable growth that provides jobs for Malaysians,” he said.

He proudly pointed out Penang’s annual healthy budget surpluses recorded since PR took over the state administration five years ago.

“The budget-based administration we implemented since 2008 had led to an increase in state assets by 50 per cent to RM1.2 billion and a reduction in state debt by a record 95 per cent,” Lim said.

As for investments, he said the state had recorded RM36.1 billion in investments between the years 2008 and 2012, which is almost double of the RM18.7 billion in investments between 2003 and 2007.

“This was achieved through fighting corruption, establishing integrity in public service and open competitive tenders,” he said.

He said the state is moving towards an outcome-based administration that focuses on getting value-for-money for government expenditure to lower maintenance costs while ensuring better quality in the public delivery of services.

He reassured Penangites who fall into the poor and the less-fortunate categories that they will not be forgotten, saying the state will continue to disburse cash allowances through its various social welfare programmes funded from its savings of public projects.

“We have also adopted the unconditional cash transfer model of topping up all families whose monthly household incomes are below the poverty line of RM 790 per month to make Penang free from poverty,” he said.

As part of his message for the season, he reiterated his administration’s pledge to roll out by February next year, a three-pronged housing policy, which has been a major issue in the land-strapped state.

To help put housing prices within the bank accounts of more residents, Lim said the state will compel private developers to build a fixed percentage of affordable housing priced below RM250,000 on the mainland, and below RM400,000 on the island.

The Air Putih assemblyman said the state investment arm, Penang Development Corporation, will also undertake to construct 20,000 units of public housing, to be priced below RM72,500 per unit.

There would also be a 10-year limit on reselling government-built housing, a five-year cap on homes built under the affordable housing scheme to prevent speculation.

Lastly, he said his administration will start imposing a 3 per cent tax on foreign property transactions and a 2 per cent levy on all properties that are resold within a three-year period.

“Just as Christmas is celebrated to give life to all, Penang can only prosper if everyone regardless of race or religion can enjoy the fruits of success together,” Lim said.

- Contributed by Opalyn Kok

Guan Eng’s Christmas message gives a glimpse of new ‘OUTCOME-BASED’ policies 

 

The Penang state government reaffirms CAT governance of competency, accountability and transparency that upgrades budget-based to outcome-based administration that ensures economic growth(pro-growth), employment opportunities(pro-jobs) and equitable justice(pro-poor). Penang has neither been distracted nor detracted from seeking sustainable growth that provides jobs for Malaysians.

There is growing concern at the increased unemployment rate in Malaysia announced by the Department of Statistics at 3.3% in October 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the 3.1% in September this year. October 2013 saw an increase of the unemployed by 19,100 persons to 462,300 persons, and there was a drop of employed persons by 98,500 to 13.70 million people.

Despite the rise in unemployment rate in Malaysia, Penang continues to see not just full employment but a shortage of at least 20,000 workers. Penang’s recent successes in securing several critical foreign direct investments, which will be followed by important announcements next month, will fulfil the pro-growth and pro-jobs objectives of the Penang PR state government.

The budget-based administration implemented by PR since 2008 has led to a healthy budget surplus every year, increase in state’s assets by 50% to RM 1.2 billion and a reduction in state debt by a record 95%. Again, investments was a record RM 36.1 billion for 5 years from 2008-2012, which is nearly double that compared to RM18.7 billion from 2003-7. This was achieved through fighting corruption, establishing integrity in public service and open competitive tenders.

Outcome-based administration

Moving towards outcome-based administration in the second term of government, focuses on getting value-for-money for government expenditure that will not only assist in reducing maintenance costs but also ensure better quality in the public delivery of services. This will go a long way towards achieving a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier Penang.

However the poor, the weak and those who need help are not forgotten. Penang is not only the first state to give cash contributions to ordinary citizens as part of the anti-corruption dividend but also the first state in Malaysian history to wipe out corruption. Adopting the unconditional cash transfer or UCT model of topping up all families whose monthly household incomes are below the poverty line of RM 790 per month, Penang is free from poverty.

First-time buyers and middle-income groups seeking to buy houses will benefit from the 3-prong housing democracy strategy of:-

  • Compelling private developers to build a fixed percentage of affordable housing(above RM72,500 but below RM250,000 on the mainland and below RM400,000 on the island) and public housing(below RM72,500);
  • Building 20,000 units of affordable housing through Penang Development Corporation(PDC); and
  • Implementing new housing rules after 1 February 2014 of a 10 year restrictions on resale on public housing and 5-year restriction on affordable housing, an approval fee of 3% on foreign transactions and a 2% approval fee of all sales made within 3 years from signing of the Sales & Purchase Agreement.

Just as Christmas is celebrated to give life to all, Penang can only prosper if everyone regardless of race or religion can enjoy the fruits of success together.

Penang is also proud to offer fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and expression. As the art and cultural capital of Malaysia, Penang celebrates the right to live with dignity in an inclusive society. As Nelson Mandela said, “.For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

- LIM GUAN ENG IS THE PENANG CHIEF MINISTER

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Singapore downplaying university degrees; bus death triggers riot


Downplaying varsity degrees

With thousands of unemployed graduates, the government plans to cap campus enrolment.

IT is clearer now why the government had been discouraging Singaporeans from depending too much on university degrees.

The reason is that the pool of unemployed graduates is expanding in this wealthy city, despite a general shortage of workers.

Almost by the week, new cases are being reported about well-educated professionals struggling to find jobs or being retrenched.

The latest example: A 29-year-old accountancy and finance graduate wrote of his failed job hunt for two years, saying: “I am deeply worried.”

Posted on a website, www.transitioning.org, which helps unemployed professionals, his is one of many such tales, including the following:

> A 51-year-old jobless graduate who earned S$4,000 (RM10,133) per month said he might have to become a security guard. “On some nights, I would wake up breaking out in cold sweat and worrying about my future.”

> A 28-year-old arts graduate has been jobless for one year, surviving on her savings.

> A 35-year-old Malay graduate ex-teacher and single mum is jobless and going homeless soon.

> A jobless 47-year-old graduate had only one offer in seven months – for a S$6 (RM15)-an-hour temp position.

> A 35-year-old jobless graduate and mum of two kids surviving on her security guard husband’s salary and with less than S$10 (RM25.30) in the bank.

There are others, all of which make sad reading, pointing to a deterioration of life quality for many middle-class Singaporeans as bosses prefer to hire “cheap” foreign workers.

The situation could worsen in the near future with nearly 10,000 graduates coming on-stream from seven local universities every year, seeking work.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) recently, a further 18,000 Singaporeans were studying in foreign universities – half of them in Australia.

Unemployment among the highly educated has risen from 3.3% to 3.6% in the first half of 2013, worse than the national average of 2.1%.

Actually, Singapore is not unique. Countries in the developed West, too, suffer from rising graduate unemployment – with one exception.

Unlike these countries, densely populated Singapore openly promotes immigration. Last year it admitted another 27,000 “foreign talents”.

Unable to create enough meaningful jobs, the government is doing the next best thing – downsizing the Singaporean ambition for higher education.

Several Cabinet ministers recently began to talk down the importance of a university degree.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that paper qualification is not the only route to success.

And National Development Mi­­nister Khaw Boon Wan sparked controversy when he said: “You own a degree, but so what? You can’t eat it. If that cannot give you a good life, a good job, it is meaningless.”

Earlier, a Wikileaks document revealed a government decision to keep the local university population from increasing too much.

It quoted a senior Education Ministry official as saying that the government had no plan to encourage more students to go for university studies.

The campus enrolment rate would be capped at the current 20%-25% of total Singapore students. The labour market, she added, did not need more graduates.

That report came as a shock to Singaporeans who worship higher education as a god of success.

It led to speculation that the government is doing it to bring in foreign graduates en masse, since it is cheaper and faster than to produce them at home.

Given past records, this is unlikely to be the whole truth. The government has always given priority to developing Singaporeans to play an economic role.

To economists, however, there are wider fundamental reasons for it. The demise of the manufacturing era has significantly altered the job market.

Many of the newly created jobs today are in services that do not require formal four-year university training.

“A degree is nice to have, but we need something else,” is a regular employer comment.

For example, the opening of the two resorts required some graduates to be retrained as casino dealers and roulette operators.

Getting Singaporean parents to cut back on their children’s education is Mission Impossible. Many have suffered sacrifices to get them into a top university.

Social commentator Lucky Tan said any cutback would work against lower-income Singaporeans because the rich could easily send their kids abroad.

Not all are against the government being cautious.

“It is important to maintain a balanced, orderly labour market for the sake of social order,” said one writer.

Years ago former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke of the dangers of educating hordes of graduates and being unable to provide them jobs.

He noticed that many tended to end up roaming the streets and making violent revolution.

And later Lee remarked that Singaporeans were not getting smarter, only better educated.

From many indications, the economy may intervene in the debate.

A research expert said: “I expect employment, including of graduates, to start to slow over the next few years.”

As quality jobs decline, it may further reduce the arrival of foreign professionals, even if the government were to do nothing.

Contributed by Seah Chiang Nee  Insight Down South

Seah Chiang Nee is an international journalist of 40 years, many of them reporting on Asia. The views expressed are entirely his own.

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27 May 2013

Singapore tackles jobs controversy

BBC News – Singapore tackles jobs controversy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24697611

Earlier this year, Singapore’s government released a policy paper that predicted the population in the city-state would grow by 30% to 6.9 million by 2030, with immigrants making up nearly half that figure.

Thousands of Singaporeans have protested against government plans to offset the nation’s declining birth rate by bringing in foreign workers.

In response the government has stepped in to promote Singaporean workers over foreign ones.

BBC News – Singapore tackles jobs controversy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24697611

Singapore bus death triggers riot

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/9493463/Fatal-crash-sparks-riots-in-Singapore
The BBC’s Ashleigh Nghie

Police in Singapore have made 27 arrests after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national.

Trouble started after the 33-year-old man was knocked down by a private bus in a district known as Little India.

About 400 people took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.

At least 16 people were hurt, most of them police officers, before the violence was brought under control.

Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said it was the first rioting in Singapore in more than 30 years.

He condemned the rioting as “intolerable, wanton violence”. “It is not the Singapore way,” he added.

Rioting in Singapore is punishable by up to seven years in prison plus caning.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that “whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour”.

“We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law,” he said in a statement.

Correspondents say the outbreak of public disorder is rare in strictly governed Singapore.

The hi-tech, wealthy city-state depends heavily on guest workers, with labourers from South Asia dominating sectors like construction.

Many congregate in Little India on Sundays to shop, drink and socialise.

Pictures and videos posted in social media showed two police cars being overturned by the mob. Several private vehicles were also damaged.

Police cars overturned in Singapore. 8 Dec 2013  
Rioters overturned two police cars
Arrested men in Little India. 8 Dec 2013  
Little India is home to Singapore’s South Asian workforce

m: “The protesters were overcome with rage”

Malaysian business associations protest against minimum wage for foreigners


PUTRAJAYA: Some 100 people, claiming to represent business associations, held a brief protest against the implementation of minimum wage for foreign workers in front of the Human Resources Ministry.

Min Wage Protest

A member of the steering committee reads out the group’s demands to the protesting crowd. — Picture by Zurairi AR

The group, called the Minimum Wages Implementation Steering Committee, demanded that the Government stick to the current wage level set by the embassies of the various countries whose citizens work here, and not hike it up to RM900 as is being done for local workers.

Committee member Goh Chin Siew said they want the ministry to re-examine the minimum wage requirements so that they reflect the standard of living in different areas across the country, and for the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries to weigh in on the impact of minimum wage on Malaysians.

“Malaysians will face hyperinflation due to minimum wage, and we will also see a lot of money flowing out of the country when foreign workers remit earnings home,” he said before the group handed a memorandum on the issue to the ministry.

The group said they were only against implementation of minimum wage for foreign workers and not against minimum wage for Malaysians.

During the protest, the group chanted various slogans outlining their support for minimum wage for locals but not foreign workers.

They also held up placards in English, Malay and Chinese, asking why the Government had not “listened to our voices” and demanding that Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam resign for allegedly failing to resolve the minimum wage issue.

Among the organisations that the group claimed to have secured as members are the Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall, Malay-sian Furniture Industry Council, KL-Kepong Business Recreation Club and Electrical Electronics Association Malaysia.

The Star: Recent Related Articles:

Jan 22 Effects of minimum wage to be addressed – Story | The Star Online
Jan 21 Employers complain of high levy and allowances, says Subra – Story | The Star Online

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Minimum wage saga continues..


WE refer to the letters written by Samsuddin Bardan of the Malaysian Employers Federation (The Star, Sept 30), the Secretariat, National Wages Consultative Council (The Star, Oct 2) and Peter Raiappan (The Star, Oct 27) on the issue of minimum wage.

Come January, most of us will be concerned as to whether the minimum wages as previously announced by the Government will be enforced on our service industry e.g. security guards, waiters in hotels and restaurants or other workers in similar industries that require them to work 24 hours, including Sundays and public holidays.

In the case of security guards, it must be noted that most of these guards work 30 days a month as opposed to most regular employees who work 26 days.

The guards in particular will have to work the extra four days to claim the four days overtime payment (in addition to the daily four-hour overtime) to obtain that extra cash for a take-home salary of more than RM1,000 a month.

The security service employers are indeed in a dilemma.

Besides the overtime payment, the security companies will have to fork out additional expenditure such as the “post allowance” to the guards particularly for those assignments which are located in isolated places, transport allowance to guards for the use of their own transport, and not to mention the “attendance allowance” as an incentive to compel the guards to avoid unnecessary absenteeism. There are also cases where a “laundry allowance” is given to ensure that the guards are in their most presentable uniforms while on duty.

All this amounts to additional unavoidable costs to the security companies.

We, the security operators, are most concerned about the take-home salary of the guards and not just the basic salary of RM900 a month (less EPF and Socso deductions).

This is precisely why we encourage the security guards to work 12 hours (with four hours overtime payment daily) for them to earn the extra cash. Even the Nepalese guards that we employ work the 12 hour shift for the same reason.

We believe that even if we compel the guards to work for only eight hours a day, I am sure they will find some other part-time job to earn the extra cash during their time off.

This may not be healthy as they will most likely be too tired to effectively perform their duties as security guards in their regular assignments.

This may even result in them skipping work, which is worse.

Security guards are posted everywhere in the country. They are not stationed in one place like the factory workers.

Some people may not be too concerned about security but the role of these guards should not be taken for granted.

They are important in our society to prevent crime amidst the worrying level of crime in the country lately.

We are indeed in a dilemma whether we can continue to sustain our security service industry in the face of the above-mentioned escalating operating costs if the Government insists on proceeding with the minimum wage of RM900 requirement.

We therefore, urge the Government to exclude the security service industry and other similar industries from the implementation of this RM900 minimum wages scheme due to the extra costs to be incurred from the additional four hours of daily overtime work.

They also work during public holidays and Sundays.

These will incur extra double overtime which in return their take home pay is more than RM900.

We hope the Government to consider our appeal seriously to postpone the implementation of the new salary scheme which is due on Jan 1.

It is for the good of the security service industry and for the economy in general.

By DATUK RAHMAT ISMAIL Hon Life President (International) Asian Professional Security Association – The Star Nov  28, 2012

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Malaysia’s minimum wage saga continues


AFTER all the debate between proponents and opposers and the accompanying fanfare which dragged on for years, the Human Resources Minister finally issued an order in July 2012, declaring that Minimum Wages need to be paid from January 2013.

While the intention was to ensure that all employees will be paid a certain minimum salary, RM900 in peninsular Malaysia, the way in which the order was worded has created problems and headaches for employers, not so much for those who are not paying the minimum wage of RM900 currently, but for employers whose current remuneration package for employees is far above that of RM900.

The blame for this rests squarely on the formulators of the law and the order.

This is further compounded by the recent issuance of so called “Guidelines – method of implementation of the Minimum Wages Order 2012”.

The National Wages Consultative Council Act, (the Act) under which the Minimum Wage Order has been promulgated, states that “wages” has the same meaning as that found in the Employment Act 1955.

“Wages” as defined in the Employment Act 1955 means basic wages and all other payments in cash payable to an employee for work done in respect of his contract of service but does not include the listed exclusions.

However, the Act has also provided a definition for “minimum wages”, to mean, the basic wages to be or as determined under the order made by the Minister under Section 23.

Section 24(2) of the Act goes further to state that where the basic wages in an employment contract is lower than the minimum wage rate as specified in the Minimum Wages Order the minimum wage rate (RM900) shall be substituted for the ‘basic wage’ in the employment contract.

There are many employers, who for a variety of reasons, provide a low basic wage but top up the remuneration package with a variety of other payments such as commissions, allowances, service charge, shift allowance and other payment in cash.

In many instances, the calculation of the additional payments are based on the current “basic wage”.

At the end of each month, these employees earn much more than the minimum RM900.

Often employers fix a low basic wage but pay high rates for other payments, the calculation of which, as mentioned earlier, is sometimes linked to the basic wage. They do so to encourage productivity.

They are not short paying their employees but that is how the wage payments are structured in the country with each industry having its own peculiar structure.

Many instances can be cited where employees paid as much as RM1,500 or even more per month.

The Minimum Wages Order requires that the “basic wage” be now moved up to RM900.

The introduction of minimum wages was never intended to affect these good employers but to compel the ones who pay below RM900 to raise the wages of their employees to a minimum level of RM900 per month.

The Minimum Wages Order in Para 6, however, goes on to suggest that employers and employees and where trade unions exist, could go about and re-negotiate a restructuring of wages before the coming into force of the order.

How on earth are employers, who do not have a union, going to go about this renegotiating with their employees? What if they disagree?

Would any employee or trade union in the right frame of mind agree to raise his current basic (which is lower than RM900) to the new figure of RM900 (thereby helping the employer to conform with the requirement of the Minimum Wages Order) and permit all the other benefits that he is receiving (which is related to the basic) to be lowered so that the end result is that he is placed at a position, (in terms of total remuneration received at the end of the month ) no different than the original amount that he is currently receiving?

The Minimum Wages Order has indeed created confusion in the labour market and that is putting it very mildly. Fortunately, the order comes into force only in January 2013, giving time for corrective measures.

In an attempt to provide some clarity and explanation to this confused state of affairs, the National Wages Consultative Council exercising the powers provided under Section 4(2) of the Act has decided that apart from the matters contained in the Minimum Wages Order 1212 it shall issue some guideline relating to the method of implementation of the order.

Nowhere in Section 4(1) (which refers to the functions of the council) are powers given to it to elaborate, explain, modify or issue guidelines relating to the method of implementing the Minimum Wages Order issued by the Minister under Section 23(1).

If at all the council wants to make any recommendations it could exercise the provision under Section 22(1)(e).

In such an instance it has to make its recommendations to the Government through the Minister.

The Minister, if he agrees with the recommendation, can then issue an order as provided for under Section 22(1). .

Clearly, the drafting of the Minimum Wages Order could have been done much more professionally bearing in mind the objective of the introduction of the minimum wage law.

It is still not too late to remedy the situation and help relieve the unnecessary turmoil the vast majority of employers are now facing.

Up till now so much management time has been lost trying to find answers to the hundreds of questions raised by law abiding employers in the different industries for which no one in the ministry has been able to provide clear-cut answers.

Needless to say, any law enacted must be simple, well drafted, easy to understand and achieve what it is set out to do.

If it creates problems, especially for those who ought not to be affected by it, then something is fundamentally wrong with it.

PETER RAIAPPAN Kuala Lumpur

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Avoid these 6 ways to hurt your reputation in a new job


There are many ways you can inadvertently damage your reputation in a new job. As my former client found out, showing up late on your first day of work is one of those ways. Here are six ways you can sabotage your reputation that you should avoid at all costs:

#1 – Show up late on your first day of work: This is my number one “no-no” when it comes to starting a new job. Showing up late may damage your reputation because it can make you look unreliable and unable to plan for potential obstacles. If you can’t even make it to work on time, do you think your manager will trust you to finish a project on time? Always give yourself plenty of extra time to get to work for the first few weeks so you can get a feel for traffic patterns and how much time you’ll need. Bring a book or magazine to read in case you get there early.

#2 – Wear inappropriate attire, based on the company culture: Wearing a dark suit is not a good idea if you’ve been hired by a start-up company where everyone wears jeans and shorts to work. Similarly, wearing too casual attire to a company where most employees wear suits five days a week won’t work either. Take the time (before your first day on the job) to understand the company’s culture and find out from your new manager or HR representative as to what attire is appropriate. Never wear perfume or cologne to work – leave these for evenings and weekends. There’s almost nothing more annoying as a manager than having to hold a discussion with a new employee because their over-powering

#3 – Refer constantly to how your previous company did things: When you keep referring to things saying, “That’s not how we did it at ABC company,” or “Where I came from, this is how we did it and it worked much better,” you will severely damage your reputation. Why? Because nobody likes an arrogant know-it-all who thinks they are better than other employees or who believes their previous company did things better. I once led a department after the parent company had purchased and merged five companies into one. Ego-bragging about former companies was so prevalent I implemented a fun way of calling attention to this negative practice. Whenever anyone used the name of his or her former company and someone pointed this out, the person had to add $1 to an empty shoebox in my office. When the shoebox was filled with money I used it for a pizza lunch for the team and to talk about the ego-bragging and why it was so detrimental to our newly combined company. After that, the negative practice almost immediately ceased.

#4 – Question the way (and why) things are done: Like I mentioned in item #3, no one likes an arrogant know-it-all. Before espousing your opinions in your new job, take the time to identify all angles of a situation. This means understanding the stakeholders, inputs, resources, processes, and outcomes/results. Once you have this information, you can dig deeper into certain circumstances using terminology such as, “Help me understand how…” and “How does department ABC then use this information to…?” How you word things is just as important as the questions you ask, so think before you speak.

#5 – Ask for time off: You’d think this would be a no-brainer “no-no”, but you’d be surprised at how often hiring managers express their frustration to me about new employees blindsiding them with time off requests. If you receive a job offer in June and your family already has vacation plans scheduled for mid-July, let the hiring manager know immediately (before you begin your new job) and proactively work with them to ensure your vacation will not disrupt the productivity of the department. Surprising your new manager with a personal time off request can damage your reputation because it can make you seem like a deceitful and immature person.

#6 – Spend time “water cooler gossiping” to get the “dirt” on people in the department: Everyone wants to get to know the people in their new company as quickly as possible – but don’t spend time finding out through the gossip “grape vine” around the water cooler or break room. Take the time to get to know colleagues first hand and form your own opinions. Don’t let other’s nasty gossip cloud your thinking when it comes to co-workers.

As my former career-coaching client found out, it can be fairly easy to damage your reputation in a new job. Once damaged, it can take time and effort to repair your work reputation. To avoid having to go through this situation yourself, be aware of the six key ways you can harm your reputation when starting a new job – and wisely avoid them!

Lisa Quast

Lisa Quast, Contributor

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Many Job Applicants Using Fake Degrees!


PETALING JAYA: With the employment market becoming increasingly competitive, many people are using bogus degrees, diplomas and certificates besides telling outright lies to secure jobs.

A company specialising in pre-employment screening has detected an average of five applications with forged degrees or certificates every week while a fraud-investigation firm found that 10% to 15% of applications it scrutinised had fake paper qualifications, some of them from non-existent universities.

 Dubious record: Pre-employment screening firms routinely detect about 15% of fake qualifications sent in by applicants.

Verity Intelligence Sdn Bhd managing director Mark Leow Boon Kuan, whose clients are mostly multinationals and finance companies, said many of the documents were cleverly forged and could fool anyone.

He added: “Of about 2,000 applications we check each month, about 20 are found to have fake degrees or certificates. That’s five a week. We have detected 130 forged documents so far this year.

* Full report in The Star today

The Star/Asia News Network

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Are Malaysian Employment Laws Challenging?


Are Malaysian employment laws and policies in keeping with the new models or do they still carry signs of the traditional master-servant model and archaic gender stereotypes?

WE hear of female civil servants taking optional retirement but that is because the Public Service Commission allows for that.

And when they go, they get a pension.

But to be forced to retire in the private sector before your male colleagues? That goes against the grain and, surely, Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees gender equality.

And yet that is the case for female workers in some industries in the private sector.

In June 2001, the Guppy Plastics Industries’ new employee handbook stipulated that the retirement age for its female and male workers was 50 and 55 respectively. Apparently, women are prone to medical problems after 50.

Tan: The argument that female workers lose their ability at 50 is not backed by scientific fact.

The fact that the Federal Constitution was amended a month later to include gender in Article 8′s equality provision and that Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nation‘s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) before that was of no consequence to them or the Court of Appeal.

On March 21 this year, the second highest court in the country dismissed an appeal by eight female employees against their forced retirement from Guppy in July 2001, saying the plastics company had merely followed its handbook and early retirement for female workers was industry practice.

The fact that other industries also have similar retirement policies is a matter for concern. Apart from a clear case of gender bias, some could, like Guppy had done, re-employ the terminated workers on a contract basis, depriving them of benefits they would have got otherwise.

The women are not giving up, though. They are applying for leave to appeal in the Federal Court.

Lawyer Honey Tan says the Guppy case reinforces the male and female stereotypes. “The argument that female workers lose their ability at 50 is not backed by scientific fact,” she says.

“If age was a bona fide occupational qualification, then both male and female workers should retire at the same time.”

Should our employment laws remain in the dark ages, leaving a worker with social security that is nebulous at best?

Tan will be raising the Guppy case and other cases of sex discrimination at the workplace for discussion and debate at a conference on “Challenges in Employment Law: Proposals for Reform” on July 2.

The one-day conference is organised by the Malaysian Chapter of the International Society of Labour and Social Security Law (MSLSSL) and Current Law Journal.

Roy: There is a great need to create public awareness of labour laws and social security.

Participants will hear from Susila Sithamparam, Industrial Court president, Lawasia Committee on Labour Law chair Bernard Banks, Human Resources Ministry officials, unionists, lawyers, employers and an Industrial Court chairman.

The other topics that will be debated are minimum wage, contract labour and labour claims under Section 69 of the Employment Act.

“There is a great need to create public awareness of labour laws and social security,” says conference organising chairman Datuk Roy Rajasingham.

As such, the Malaysian chapter of the international society was set up in 2011 to promote the study of labour and social security laws here and at the international level, adds Roy, who is also MSLSSL vice-president.

“It seeks to provide lawyers, labour practitioners and others working in the fields of labour and social security law with a forum for discussion and debate.”

Membership is open to all who, because of their scholarly work or judicial or professional activities, are interested in furthering the aims and purposes of the society.

Besides them, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), Human Resources Ministry, Employees Provident Fund and Social Security Organisation are entitled to nominate one representative each to be a member.

Conference participants can expect to look at proposals for reform in the changing field of social security, employment, and human resources management.

One of the long-time bones of contention has been whether to introduce a minimum wage.

Recently, the Government ended that dispute by announcing a minimum wage for the private sector but whether this is the best thing for workers here and Malaysia’s competitiveness remains to be seen.

Lo: The matter of what constitutes minimum wage has to be resolved.

“Even though the rate has been announced, the matter of what constitutes minimum wage has to be resolved,” says Andrew Lo, who will be speaking on the topic.

“Does it include, for example, shift allowance, service charge, overtime payment, performance bonus? How about accommodation, transport and meals provided by employers?” says Lo, chief executive officer of the Sarawak Bank Employees Union.

Also speaking is MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan and participants can expect a robust discussion on who benefits most.

For example, would a minimum wage increase the standard of living for the poor and increase domestic consumption, which is the engine of economic growth?

Or would it destroy jobs?

Lo notes that some employers are already claiming that up to four million jobs are at risk and 200,000 businesses may close.

As such, he speculates, some companies may adopt more capital intensive and efficient production systems and reduce the number of workers needed.

MSLSSL president Datuk Dr Cyrus Das says it would be good for all stakeholders to remember that a minimum wage is tied to a “living wage”.

“Every society that prescribes to social justice must accept a minimum wage structure and employment. You can’t pay a worker RM300 and expect him to survive on that today.”

Another major concern currently is the over-dependence on contract labour and foreign labour.

Dr Das says contract labour should not be introduced for the local workforce as that would mean bypassing trade union membership by workers, who would otherwise be eligible to join a trade union.

“The mechanism of trade union membership and terms of employment guaranteed by a collective agreement are generally regarded as minimum safeguards to an industrial workforce,” he adds.

Dr Das: You can’t pay a worker RM300 and expect him to survive on that today.

Lo, who is also MTUC Sarawak secretary-general, claims that the supply of foreign workers is controlled by syndicates and is a multi-million industry.

“Employment agents are exploiting foreign workers as they charge more than what the workers would have earned during their employment contract.”

One of the recent amendments to employment law is that which allows labour supply companies to source and employ foreign workers and farm them out to work for a fee.

“The problem arises when these labour contractors abscond, leaving their workers unpaid. The company where the employees have been working will deny responsibility as they are not the employer, leaving employees high and dry,” Lo says.

This amendment and others were greeted with protest and concern but were passed by Parliament anyway, ostensibly to facilitate the easier registration of labour contractors.

The question now, says Lo, is whether the amendments will ensure greater accountability and protection for workers or would they be legalising an undesirable practice.

He adds that the conference will look into whether a Royal Commission would be appropriate to provide an independent, in-depth inquiry to assist the Government in formulating a robust, effective, enforceable, and sustainable foreign labour policy.

By SHAILA KOSHY koshy@thestar.com.my

> Register before June 11 for an early bird fee. For conference details, contact 03-4270 5400 or e-mail priority@cljlaw.com

Fresh graduates not suitable and are ‘liabilities’, said employers


KUALA LUMPUR: Employers consider fresh graduates liabilities as many require additional training before they can perform.

Companies would rather hire experienced and skilled professionals who can bring instant returns, said Kelly Services marketing director for Singapore and Malaysia Jeannie Khoo.

She said employers felt many fresh graduates lacked communication skills and had poor English and needed to improve before they could add value to the business.

“This means additional costs for the company. Employers are looking for people who can hit the ground running,” she said after launching the Kelly Services Professional and Technical Salary Guide 2012 here yesterday.

Khoo said the 27 polytechnics in the country generated thousands of skilled workers every year but many of them needed to be retrained by their employers.

She advised fresh graduates to be less choosy and to have realistic expectations on salary and remuneration.

“You are unlikely to earn RM3,000 in your first job.

“Be willing to learn. If you are offered an internship, take it,” she said.

Kelly Services Asia Pacific head of professional and technical, Mark Sparrow, said demand was growing for professionals with experience and niche skills.

He said there was a global shortage of talent in specialised areas of engineering, accountancy, technology and financial services.

“There is high demand for engineers, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Indonesia and Thailand which are rebuilding their cities following natural disasters,” he said.

He added the “hot jobs” in Malaysia included risk management specialists, construction and environment engineers, software development specialists and marketing and sales personnel who are fluent in English.

By P. ARUNA aruna@thestar.com.my

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Malaysia’s Minimum wage’s benefits and effects 

Malaysia’s minimum wage, and its implications

Student Employment Gap in US for the Class of 2012


My company, Millennial Branding, partnered with Experience, Inc. to release a study  of 225 US employers called the Student Employment Gap. The study reveals information about employer skill requirements and sources of hire for the class of 2012. The findings were released this morning and I spoke to Jennifer Floren, the founder and CEO of Experience, Inc., about her impressions of them. Jennifer is also the author of The Innovation Generation, a speaker, and is on the board of Jobs for the Future. Experience, Inc.’s network consists of 3,800 universities, 100,000 employers, and over 8 million students and alumni.

What is your overall impression of the internship/entry-level job market? 

Generally, I believe the internship and entry-level markets are heating up in many ways.  More and more employers are realizing that they’re about to face a labor shortage as their Baby Boomer workforce retires, and the competition for up-and-coming talent is becoming stronger.  That said, there is still a significant difference between what employers need and what college students are prepared to contribute.  For entry-level talent that can demonstrate a go-getter attitude, strong communication skills, independent thinking and teamwork, there are many exciting options out there.

Based on the study, what skills do employers look for when hiring recent graduates?

It’s clear based on the data that employers truly value the so-called “soft skills”, such as analytical thinking and communication ability.  I think this speaks to the fact that specific on-the-job skills change, and they change more quickly these days than ever before.  As a result, employers are looking for raw material — talent that they can work with and develop, people who can adapt to changes over time.

Why do you think that employers are still using job boards over social networking sites when recruiting?

Employers use what works.  Although more and more hiring is happening on social networks, employers still want to make sure they are casting a wide net to access talent everywhere possible.  As the world has become more online and social in general, the talent pool has become more fragmented — there are so many sites and channels and platforms and communities being used these days that employers need to publish their opportunities in more venues to make sure they’re seen.

What stood out to you the most in the study?

To me, the most interesting thing about the study was the apparent communication disconnect between employers and entry-level talent.  Employers say they need soft skills… yet entry-level candidates often do not understand which classes are relevant for which career paths, or how to express their soft skills in ways employers understand and appreciate.  Employers say that relevant coursework is highly valuable, yet they rarely communicate their messages to younger students — so how are students supposed to know which courses to take?  If the message of what employers need isn’t getting to a younger audience, then our talent pipeline isn’t going to be well-prepared when it comes time to enter the working world!

What are your top three pieces of advice for college seniors right now?

My top three pieces of advice are simple:  get involved, build relationships, and find inspiration.  Getting involved can include building your resume with internships are — but ANY form of experience is what employers are looking for (it doesn’t have to be an official “internship” per se).  When considering entry-level talent, employers look at your past experiences for demonstration of your ambition, your interests, your skills and aptitudes, etc.  Class projects, student government, volunteering, even being active within your church or family — any experience can showcase how you can contribute to an employerso get out there and get involved!  Second, build relationships.

All hiring is personal — and whether you meet your future hiring manager or a mentor who can help make introductions that get you in the door, ‘who you know’ can make a big difference.  Introduce yourself and stay connected — relationships make a big difference.  And finally, find inspiration.  Loving what you do will give you the passion to be successful, resilient, persistent and optimistic — and finding what brings you true passion is a process.  So try things out, explore!  Youth is a time of discovery, and no one expects you to have all the answers yet — use your time to sample different organizations, areas of study, types of jobs or projects – you’ll hone in on what really gets you excited, and loving what you do is the ultimate success!

By Dan Schawbel, Forbes Contributor Newscribe : get free news in real time

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm.  He is also the #1 international bestselling author of Me 2.0 and was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2010. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.

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American Student Loan Debt: $1 Trillion and Counting

America, a “Generation of Sissies”

A “great haircut” for U.S. growth 

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