Macau’s Chief Executive, Chui Sai On, has stated the government’s plan to place stricter controls on the employment and promotion of foreign workers in Macau’s casinos, including a reduction in “the importation of and the renewal of applications for foreign workers” holding middle and senior management positions.
Addressing the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Chui said the government will conduct thorough reviews of the ratio of foreign to local workers upon the completion of upcoming large-scale casino projects, which include the likes of MGM Cotai and SJM’s Grand Lisboa Palace. It will also ask gaming operators to “state clearly the length of time the operator anticipated that a particular position would continue to be occupied by foreign employees.”
Under the new guidelines, operators will be required to provide extensive training to local workers with the intention of promoting them into middle and senior management positions, of which the government wants 85% to be filled by locals.
The goal, as outlined in Macau’s Five-Year Development Plan released in 2016, is to gradually replace foreign workers with local workers. To reach that target, the government says it will put greater effort into “perfecting the mechanism” by which foreigners depart the workforce once their contracts expire.
Mr Chui reiterated on Wednesday that foreign workers were only ever intended to be used in instances where there was a shortfall in the number of local employees available. However, such availability remains one of the key issues for operators – particularly in regards to skilled and experienced local workers – given that the unemployment rate continues to sit at a miserly 1.9%.
An industry expert who asked not to be identified told IAG that the plan was fraught with danger.
“While the government’s desire to have more management positions filled by locals is understandable, the reality is that there are not enough qualified locals to fill these rolls,” they said. “The industry, of course, will continue to do well, but will be leaving a lot of low-hanging fruit unpicked by forcing out knowledgeable foreign management.”