Malaysian tourism: Plenty of jobs, no takers


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Ilyas Zainal has said that while the country’s tourism industry is booming, Malaysian hotels are facing a dearth of job seekers.

“This is a problem hoteliers are facing,” the MAH president said.

According to him, the situation may get worse soon before it gets better. He said: “We faced the problem when we advertised for a vacancy for a mid-managerial position. Out of 100 email applications, only 32 responded for a personal interview. Out of 18 who turned up, two walked away after studying the questionnaires distributed before the interview.”

Ilyas said further, Malaysia has become a favorite hunting ground for industry job recruiters from the booming Chinese, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore tourism markets and even as far as the Gulf states. “Experienced workers are able to speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English are in demand.”

In addition, candidates find it hard to resist hefty salaries, full board and travel allowances.

IIyas sees a further drain of the country’s experienced staff when Singapore’s integrated resorts, which is “less than an hour’s flight away,” opens for business by the end of next year. “We will be losing about 30,000 experienced workers. Not only housekeepers, but engineers, accountants and other professionals associated with the industry,” the MAH president said.

On the average, Malaysia’s tourism industry loses about 70 percent of its new recruits to other industries. Despite the many job opportunities, “Malaysian youths are shunning jobs in the tourism industry. They are just not interested.”

Compounding the industry’s problems are new recruits who demand a “fat salary” to go with a “cushy position” despite lacking the necessary qualities for the job. Ilyas list the ability to speak and write English well, the industry’s “official language”, a passion for the job, and “willingness to work hard and grow with the industry” as requisites of the job.

To meet the industry’s needs, Malaysia relaxed its laws on recruitment of foreigners for the industry. “We had to resort to employing foreigners. Our manpower forecast does not complement the industry’s growth.”

Ilyas said Malaysia will not be able to sustain the industry’s growth if nothing is done about it now. “Institutions offering courses in the tourism and hotel industry should collaborate with the industry to ensure their curriculum is tailored to the needs of the industry,” he said. “Tourism should be included as a subject in schools. We must let our young know there is a future in this industry.”