Tyre dealers seek foreign technicians amid local vacuum

JOHOR BARU: Tyre dealers nationwide want to hire foreign technicians as it is getting increasingly difficult to find Malaysians who are interested in the job.

Malaysian Association of Tyre Retreaders and Dealers Society president Goh Kiang Weng said dealerships and workshop operators are facing an uphill battle to hire “new blood” for the job, which is often seen as dirty.

“There is a serious shortage of workshop technicians in the country, especially in Johor Baru due to its close proximity to Singapore.

“The industry is facing a big gap where the existing technicians are getting older and retiring, yet there is a lack of replacement from the next generation,” he said in an interview.

He said the industry has seen a gradual drop in the number of people working at workshops in the past decade and the situation has gotten worse in recent years.

“We feel that hiring foreign help is the next best solution. But the government does not allow us to do so because it says that there are sufficient Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM) holders in the country who can be hired for the job.

“As industry players, we are seeing a different story as young SKM holders prefer to work as e-hailing drivers, food delivery riders, and chain food and beverage outlets compared to working in the automotive repair industry, which means getting their hands dirty,” added Goh, who is also North Malaysia Tyre Association chairman.

Tyre technicians are responsible for assessing tyre conditions and repairing, replacing and maintaining tyres on various types of vehicles, he said, adding that some are also tasked with repairing vehicles.

Goh noted that Johor Baru is the most affected, as the lure of the Singapore dollar is too strong and many people have continued searching for jobs across the border.

The Star  reported on June 23 that hiring and retaining Malaysian workers has been tough for business operators in Johor Baru, and that the situation seems to have worsened since the end of last year. Many of them said they have been unable to employ Malaysians below 50 across industries.

Meanwhile, Goh also said that small and medium enterprises, including tyre dealers, are the backbone of the economy.

“The association had raised the matter with government representatives in the past. We once again appeal for their consideration to allow us to hire foreign help to fill up the vacancies.

“In the age of digitalisation and business model shifts, we have to tackle the issue seriously or risk the industry’s elimination and dealerships being forced to close.”

Besides the shortage of workers, he said the industry is faced with increasing costs of materials and freight shipping rates due to the weak ringgit and the US-China trade war.
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