Jobless in a land of plenty?

CAREER, Career-Retrenched

Admittedly, many Malaysians are really choosy when it comes to jobs. During the times when jobs were aplenty, job hopping is such a common phenomenon. Below is a letter writen by Naushad Noor Ali to The Star paper- which I find to be very true:

WAY back in 1962, my late grandfather visited Penang. Upon his departure, he left my family with this golden advice – never leave this wonderful country, for even the roads are paved with gold.

My mother passed on this advice to me when I was young. Only when I reached maturity, started earning a living and travelled to many parts of the world did I realise the extent of this advice.

There is no place like home, this country is indeed the best country to live in and earn a comfortable living for yourself and your family.

Nobody can go hungry in this wonderful country of ours if we are willing to work hard and put in the hours.

I think this advice is timely because at the moment, this amazing country of ours is facing the backlash from the world economic recession.

Every day we read in the papers about families living in financial difficulties due to retrenchment or companies closing down.

But this country is so extraordinary that even foreigners can earn a pretty good living. They first come here as workers and then become entrepreneurs.

Obviously they work much harder than the average Malaysian because they come from much harder surroundings.

Here are just a few examples that I would like to share:

> Security guard – earns a monthly salary of RM700. Due to the fact that the locals shun this occupation, the industry has to heavily rely on foreigners.

During the day, the same person works as office help and earns a monthly salary of RM750. His total monthly wages add up to RM1,450.

> Domestic help – earns a monthly income of RM500, and again this occupation is totally a foreigner’s domain.

I know a maid/entrepreneur. I call her that because instead of working for one household, she does several households and mind you her calendar is 100% full.

She works seven days a week, eight hours a day, two households a day and earns a daily wage of RM80. That’s RM2,400 a month. In the evenings, she operates a foodstall and earns RM50 a day. Her total monthly income is RM3,900.

> Restaurant helper – another industry dominated by foreign workers. The normal daily rate is RM50 plus two meals.

Total monthly wages are RM1,500.

How can anyone in Malaysia who is able and willing, cry for financial help? This truly baffles and amazes me.


vendors in Khao San road, Bangkok. You'll be surprised- many of these street peddlers are educated and can speak good English

vendors in Khao San road, Bangkok. You’ll be surprised- many of these street peddlers are educated and can speak good English


Previously, I was involved in writing the training materials, conducting the training and monitoring performance of new hirers on certain ad-hoc projects.

Most of the time, I find myself baffled and frustrated by the commitment level, or lack of it, by the young emerging workforce. They require hand holding and give up at the slightest challenge.

During interviews, my colleagues who conducts the interview and hiring had specifically advised them that the nature of the job is very stressful. The detailed job description and what was expected of each successful candidate had been clearly spelled out. And they all assured the recruiters that they have confidence they can handle stress and hope to be given a chance to work in the company.

But when they came on board, we find that many could not live up to the promises. When they are stressed, the next day they will be on medical leave. Some went missing and never showed up at work.

A check with many of my former colleagues who had moved on to other organisations confirmed that seemed to be the same trend everywhere. I am not saying all the young workforce are like this- amongst all, we still have a few star performers who eventually worked their way up to be given supervisory and managerial roles.

I remembered that during the time I first joined the workforce, the level of work commitment is no doubt starting to decline, but majority of us  were very committed in our work. We worked very hard to earn our credits and recognition- but even if we do not get rewarded, we have always done our best.

In away, many people are now holding on to their jobs because the phrase going around is that ‘you’re lucky to still have a job’. Workers are learning to be more tolerant and be able to put in extra hours.

Reason being is that many people had saddled themselves with various type of commitments like property, cars, education funds for their kids, insurance payments, bills and more bills- as such, many cannot afford to lose their jobs. In many companies, one person had to now do the jobs of two people. Perhaps at this trying time ahead, it will serve to toughen up people. And when the economy started to pick up, which it will in a couple of years, these people will emerge as future builders of the economy.

For those who get retretched, we should not get insulted or get a bruised ego when we felt that we have to go for a job that is way ‘beneath’ us. Remember, worrying about what our relatives and friends think will not put food to the table and pay the bills. Even though we think that people are gossiping about us all the time, we all know that ultimately, we all are concerned and worried only about our own self.

We may not be able to run away from relatives that say mean things. But if your so-called friends started looking down on you, then these people are not worth keeping as a friend, don’t you think so?

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