Foreign worker tally on a downward slope 

Honey Tsang There were a total of 177,663 non-resident workers registered in Macau as of December 2020, down 9.6%, or 18,875 fewer year-on-year, according to the latest statistics released by the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL).
The decline was mainly driven by the reduced number of non-resident workers from China. In December 2020, Macau was home to 112,214 mainland blue card holders, 10,140 fewer than the figure of the same period in 2019, 122,354.
The single largest group, or 31%, of the current mainland workers in Macau, were engaging in businesses related to hotels, restaurants and similar activities in December last year, followed by 23% in construction-related endeavors and another 17% in wholesale and retail trade.
Non-resident workers from the Philippines and Vietnam also fell significantly, by 2,553 and 2,313, respectively, to 31,228 and 12,491, respectively, in December 2020.
Among all origins, blue card holders from Korea, Japan and Taiwan plunged by 49.2%, 35.9% and 33.7%, year-on-year, respectively, in December 2020, representing the sharpest decline in terms of the percentage change.
According to the latest figures provided by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), the unemployment rate of local residents was 4.0% from September to November 2020, down by 0.1 percentage points, compared to the previous period from August to October 2020.
To safeguard the job entitlements of locals, the DSAL last week pledged to explore job opportunities offered by Macau’s large enterprises and require the companies to prioritize hiring locals if they are deemed fit for the specific position.
The bureau also promised to bar foreign workers from applying for certain positions, in a bid to help locals secure employment.
Earlier, the DSAL also rolled out a training program and job-matching platforms — established to cultivate local young talent within the construction and engineering industry — to further meet the growing demand for these positions. The move is to align with a series of the city’s urban development projects planned under the Urban Master Plan 2020-2040.
DSAL’s latest figures revealed that around 15%, or 26,984, of all foreign workers engaged in construction works in December 2020. It was the second-biggest industry, just after domestic work, in terms of the total number of employed foreign workers.
Last year, Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said in the media briefing following the release of his Policy Address for 2021 that the government is pleased to set the system for the withdrawal of non-resident workers in motion — on short notice — for whichever industry locals are inclined to engage with.

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