I’m becoming growingly more troubled over the past few years on what I see as muddled labour policies and practices here in Macau.
We are constantly being told that we must “nurture the special talents” that Macau has to offer. But this surely is pure propaganda – Macau’s workforce talent is just as talented as in most other countries, there’s nothing specifically special about it.
Patting ourselves on the back as being so ‘special’, and giving preferential treatment and promotion to those that may not deserve it simply because they hold an ID card will lead to complacency, and an unmotivated workforce where things are given out too freely. And I dare say it can lead to a ‘dumbing down’ of skill levels. Jobs should go to the best, most competent applicants. A little bit competition keeps one attentive and keen.
The quality of curators of art exhibitions I gather from people in the know is really quite low in Macau. In most places I’m told that it’s usual that these positions require a degree, a masters and a specialty in a certain topic, but in Macau, due to the lack of people for these roles, such qualifications are not required.
Certainly Macau should give priority to their own citizens over workers from overseas. But it should NOT at the expense of the benefit to Macau.
Case in point: A very senior executive in the technology field was required by one of the major companies in Macau for a fixed one year contract to urgently sort out some problems. No local candidate had the breadth of knowledge, specialist experience or temperament to handle the assignment. But this executive’s blue card application was rejected twice, even though he would be replacing two senior outgoing blue card executives. All this is such silly nonsense; a huge waste of time and money as the matter dragged for months. Lets get real. If the expertise is needed, and Macau doesn’t have it, get it from elsewhere.
I ate recently at a very smart hotel restaurant, billed as their ‘flagship’, with spacious elegant décor, huge wine list, and equally huge menu prices. But such a disappointing meal both in terms of service and food. I find out later that they’ve been unable to recruit either bus-boys or mid-level chefs. If Macau people don’t want these jobs, then let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot – get them filled by overseas workers who are only too delighted to have a job.
And in the same vein, I heard tell of a specialty Michelin star restaurant that was applying for a Michelin star chef – they had the appropriate candidate (from overseas) but were told by the powers that be that no, you need to go and find this locally. Tell me, how many Macau residents are Michelin star chefs?!
And in the real estate business, this now is licensed, which I thoroughly endorse as it aims to upgrade the practices of property agents. So in order to practice one needs to study for and take a test, all well and good, but the test is only offered in Chinese or Portuguese. No test available in English. So this is protectionism pure and simple. And it doesn’t benefit Macau one bit as it excludes all those who only speak English – imagine what we could learn from some professional real estate specialists from overseas. And get this, I’ve come across several Macau born people in the real estate business, raised overseas and who speak Chinese, but cant read it. So they have the relevant work experience but thanks to the supposedly helpful test – they are unable to get a job in real estate here!
The saddest story of all is about one young woman I know, born and bred in Macau, who was fortunate to be given a full scholarship, paid for by the Macau government, to go to Australia for 4 years to study for a degree in Politics and Social Studies. She successfully completed this, returned to Macau, and was met with a startling lack of interest amongst the authorities in offering her a job. What’s THAT all about I wonder? Here she is, a Macau resident, educated in a topic that was considered worthy of a full 4 year grant, speaking Chinese, Portuguese and English fluently, and seemingly zero opportunity to join a government department that could benefit from her education and experience. Is it that only lip service is paid to ‘grooming talent’, or, as I suspect, it’s a case of job for life irrespective of skills and ‘dead man’s shoes’ within most departments, waiting your turn for an opening or a promotion only when someone dies or leaves, with few if any opportunities to welcome in fresh new talent? Such a shame!
I highlight these anecdotes so as to describe some of the oddities I’ve come across. I may be accused of laboring a point but with all the eye-watering amount of investment in Macau these past 10 or so years how can we possibly keep our standards to be world class if we’re so short sighted when it comes to our labour practices?