On November 18, 2019, the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) was established under the Prime Minister’s Office to replace the Manpower Council and tackle unemployment in the country.
According to the Labour Force Survey 2019, the unemployment rate decreased from 8.7 per cent in 2018 to 6.8 per cent in 2019. The number of jobseekers in 2019 was recorded at 16,234 compared to 19,233 in 2018.
Based on the same survey, there is an upward trend in employment. From 2017 to 2019, the total number of employed people increased from 186,886 to 221,711.
To strengthen the supply of local workforce and fulfill industry needs, a number of initiatives are carried out by MPEC, one of which is JobCentre Brunei (JCB).
JCB is a one-stop career centre for local jobseekers and employers in the private sector. Job vacancies are posted on JCB’s website, including i-Ready apprenticeship programmes for graduates with little or no experience to enhance their marketability. The i-Ready programmes are continuously monitored by the MPEC Secretariat.
Other services by JCB include Job Matching, which involves sharing a talent pool of registered jobseekers to private companies based on their vacancies’ requirement, walk-in interviews, career guidance and training.
As of November 11, 2020, a total of 5,776 job vacancies were advertised on JCB – 3,405 were filled by locals while another 2,371 were still undergoing recruitment.
Other initiatives by MPEC include Continuous Education and Training (CET) programme and SkillsPlus.
The CET programme is a collaboration between the MPEC Secretariat and Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE). The programme aims to generate job-ready and competent locals aligned with the industry demand.
SkillsPlus, an initiative under the Learn and Grow programme by MPEC, is supported by the Lifelong Learning Centre (L3C) of the Ministry of Education (MoE). The programme provides funding assistance to local jobseekers, freelancers, and employees in the private sector to learn new skills by taking courses offered by L3C.
In addition to working with MoE, MPEC also works with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) to develop training programmes that are aligned with industry and economic needs.
MPEC collaborates with career teachers across various schools in the nation to share ongoing initiatives and programmes as well as key information on job demand to be shared with students.
The MPEC Secretariat acts as an advisory to the scholarship committee including student loan applications in both MoE and MoRA. Working with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), the MPEC Secretariat has been appointed as a member of the National Council on Social Issues and National Welfare Scheme Taskforce to address unemployment issues in the country.
The MPEC Secretariat also shares information on professional courses with the Public Service Department (JPA) and Public Service Commission (SPA) to introduce professional programmes that can be offered to civil servants as part of in-service training.
Established last year, the Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) is a sub-committee under MPEC. The committee was set up as a platform for collaboration between industries, regulators as well as education and training institutions in ensuring alignment to the respective sectoral manpower demands.
MISC focusses on five industrial sectors: energy, construction, hospitality and tourism, ICT and marine. Sectoral MISC Working Groups (MISCWG)
have been set up, led by industry players and regulators.
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