Ella Lei opposes workforce access for non-local students

Lawmaker Ella Lei has expressed her opposition regarding the opening of Macau’s workforce to non-local students.

Recently, the Macau Hotels Association, in their meeting with Chief Executive  candidate Ho Iat Seng, proposed that Macau should relax restrictions to allow non-local students to work in Macau. The proposal was not endorsed by the next Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, as he deems the proposal to be unlawful.

Speaking to the Times, lawmaker Ella Lei, who is also a representative of Macau workers, expressed her opposition to the proposal.

“Will students work in Macau while they are studying here, or will they only start working after they finish their studies?” Lei questioned. “They come to Macau to study, not to work.”

Lei explained that, regardless of the situation, Macau already has a mechanism to handle non-local worker issues.

“I don’t think the restrictions should be loosened. There are laws regulating it. The student visa has its own regulation,” Lei added.

According to Lei’s opinion, a non-local skilled worker can be employed in Macau under Macau’s current law.

“If a student has graduated and Macau has a need for that [graduate], then Macau can give permission to this [graduate] to work in Macau under the current regulations,” said Lei.

Macau’s current law does not allow a non-local student to work in Macau while holding a student visa. A non-local student, or, in this case, any non-local, must possess a working visa to work in Macau.

In addition to that, a non-local student with a student visa is not allowed to undertake either paid or unpaid work in Macau or attend a second course or program.

For a mainland Chinese student, a working visa to Macau must be first issued by the mainland. However, China will only issue a working visa to a mainland student if an employment contract approved by the Macau’s Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) is presented.

In Lei’s opinion, Macau has no need to open access to more industries for non-local people. In addition, current non-local workers’ employment regulations should be amended given the fact that many unqualified workers have been allowed to immigrate or work in Macau.

“We have a system to import skilled workers, but there have been loopholes and abuse of regulations,” said Lei, adding “what we need is to improve the system, instead of continuously opening more doors.”

“Are we to open all industries to non-local people?” she posed in reference to the various occupations in Macau reserved for local residents.

According to statistics provided by the Higher Education Bureau of Macau, as of October 2016, Macau had a total of 32,750 non-local students enrolled in the city’s higher education institutions (10 in total), representing 45.25% of the total number of students.

The highest percentage of non-local students was recorded at the University of Macau, of which 36.81% were not local residents.

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