BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – JobCentre Brunei has rejected 48 per cent of companies’ applications to recruit foreign workers, the home affairs minister said on Saturday.

In his closing remarks at the 16th Legislative Council session, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said 17,579 out of 36,681 applications to hire foreign workers were turned down.

The minister last year announced curbs on hiring of foreign workers in eight sectors, including construction, retail and manufacturing.

He said 2,949 local jobseekers managed to fill vacancies in the private sector through JobCentre Brunei since the website went live in 2017.

There are currently 9,021 active jobseekers on JobCentre Brunei.

Minister of Home Affairs YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar speaks at the 16th Legislative Council session. Photo: Infofoto

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar said JobCentre Brunei and the Labour Department already have initiatives in place to deal with unemployment.

“Through ease of doing business initiatives, the government will continue to provide an ecosystem that is conducive for local businesses while making Brunei as the main destination for foreign direct investments”.

Brunei’s unemployment rate declined to 8.7 per cent in 2018 from 9.3 per cent in the previous year, figures from the Department of Economic Planning and Development showed.

The minister said a whole of nation approach is required for the private sector to grow and improve the quantity and quality of work in Brunei.

“With the establishment of the Manpower Planning and Employment Council, brisk efforts to deal with the issue of human resources and employment will be carried out through the implementation of a number of new initiatives in the near future,” he said.

He urged private sector employers to step up as it is not possible to solely rely on the government to improve Brunei’s business environment.

“It is hoped that employers in the private sector play their part in helping their employees stay in the long run and not view working in the private sector as impermanent,” the minister added.