Door Opens To Foreign Workers As Locals Fail To Fill Labour Gaps

Up to 130,000 foreign workers are set to be welcomed to the country over the coming half decade (2016-2020) to fulfill domestic labour market demand.

The equivalent of 26,000 additional foreign workers per year will be most needed to feed labour demand in the processing industry and construction sectors, the next five-year plan of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare states.

Although a significant number of new domestic workers will enter the labour market over the five-year period, this number is deemed insufficient to fulfill the domestic demand, notably in the two aforementioned sectors.

Up to 716,000 additional Lao workers will enter the labour market from 2015-2020, bringing the total to 4.11 million.
The five-year plan was presented recently at the nationwide meeting of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare held in Vientiane.
Presenting the plan to the meeting, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Ms Baykham Khattiya said the ministry would place a focus on training workers to acquire the skills needed by the two sectors.

Over the 2016-2020 period, the ministry has set a target to provide skills training to as many as 658,080 workers, equivalent to 131,616 per year, to feed the growing labour market demand.

Training courses will be organised based on market demand for about 25 professional skills including 10 skill areas required by construction sector alone, along with training courses on car mechanics, information and communication technologies, services and tourism.

Currently, there are 164 skill development and training centres providing training to current and future Lao workers.
However, officials have highlighted challenges concerning labour training in line with market demand after learning that many young people are not willing to take vocational courses despite the high demand for workers in these professions.

Many are more interested in taking higher-level education and seek roles in economic management, banking, law etc.
Such trends have exacerbated labour shortages in Laos that have already seen the country having to bring in foreign workers, notably skilled ones.

At least 31,130 workers will be needed by 2015 to work in nine sectors, according to information reported previously by the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The garment sector will require the largest number of workers at an estimated 9,900, followed by construction with 5,500, while the furniture production sector requires around 5,000.

In wake of the need for more foreign workers, the National Assembly passed an amended Labour Law in December last year allowing workplaces to employ more foreign workers.

Under the amended law, a workplace or enterprise requiring physical labour is permitted to hire up to 15 percent foreign workers, an increase from 10 percent as stipulated in the old law.
In addition, workplaces engaged in professional activities are allowed to employ up to 25 percent foreign workers, an increase from 20 percent.

Source: Vientiane Times