Formerly known as Jabatan Tenaga Rakyat (JTR), Jabatan Tenaga Manusia (JTM) or the Manpower Department was established in 1967. The shift in name, which took place in early 2000, was due to the switch of the department's current primary function, which is to provide skills training programmes. In contrast, JTR functioned not only to produce trained skilled work force, but also to carry out job placements based on gathered data.
Now, JTM has produced and is producing skilled workforce for the nation from the certificate right up to the advanced diploma level; and to meet the demands for skilled labour and changes brought about by the rapid advancements in Science and Technology, JTM has set up Industrial Training Colleges nationwide.
From the time of establishment, 9 individuals have stepped into the Director General's seat to head the Manpower Department. They are:
En. Fong Soon Heng
En. Anuar Latip bin Abdul
- En. Mahmud Bin Idris
- Tuan Hj Alias Bin Sulaiman
- Tuan Haji Hasan Pie (16th May 1981 - !8th October 1994)
- Y.Bhg. Tan Sri Zainol Bin Abd. Rashid (19th October 1994 31st January 1998)
- Y.Bhg. Dato Nawi Bin Haji Ahmad(1st February 1998 11September 2004)
- Y.Bhg. Dato Abdul Rashid Bin Saad. (12th September 2004 24th July 2006)
- Y.Bhg. Dato' Hj. Romli bin Hj. Hassan (16th August 2006 present)