While the government has persistently, for the last many years, been trying its best to bring back highly skilled and experienced Malaysian workers abroad through the 'Returning Expert Programme' (REP), which was launched many years ago, at the same time it can also consider initiating another sort of programme, with the main objective to retain many current skilled Malaysian workers from going abroad in the first place.
The REP was originally introduced way back in 2001, with the aim to encourage Malaysians abroad with expertise in selected priority sectors to return and work in Malaysia to contribute skill sets and experiences towards the development of the country.
With the inception of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in October 2010, the programme has evolved and is now under the purview of TalentCorp.
The new, proposed initiative, can be called the 'Retaining Expert Programme', with the aim to retain as much as possible the many skilled local workers within the country from going away or migrating to other country.
Beyond doubt, there are currently many highly educated, well experienced and hardworking skilled workers within the country, who deserve similar attention to be given, as that offered to the skilled Malaysian workers abroad.
The time has come for our nation to give recognition to these skills local workers have, who could bring many potentials to build up our economy and contribute a lot for our own society.
It would be very sad to see all these local skilled workers start to move away to another country or being lured by jobs in other countries while their expertise and intelligence is badly needed in our own country.
As the country is moving forward to become a high-income nation and having so many national ambitions, such as the National Transformation Programme 2050 (TN50), the government need to seriously study this proposed Retaining Expert Programme plan by examining all the contributing factors that drive our skilled workers to go abroad and to identify ways and steps to retain them in our country.
MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah & Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim).