Workers leave Laos in search of higher wages
The paltry wages paid to many workers in Laos is the main reason why numerous skilled workers continue to seek jobs in neighbouring countries, according to Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Mr Phongxaysack Intharat.
Many factories and companies in Laos have vacancies but few people are interested in working for such low pay, he added.
The matter was discussed at a recent meeting to discuss the return of skilled Lao workers to Thailand after they came back to Laos when the Covid pandemic struck. Mr Phongxaysack said these workers had received assistance from the government in finding new employment in Laos but chose to return to Thailand because they could earn more money there.
Other workers in Laos need to improve their skills so they are qualified to meet the needs of employers in Laos and other countries, he added.
Even though job skills have improved to some extent and more people have gained experience in a trade, most are still unacceptable to employers in Laos.
One of the problems is that even if people have acquired skills, they are still paid the minimum wage at the same rate as unskilled workers because many factories and companies cling to the idea that all Lao workers are unskilled, Mr Phongxaysack said.
The meeting discussed these issues as well as dialogue security in relation to higher wages and the need for an increase in the minimum wage in response to improvements in the quality of labour.
Last year, many skilled workers in Laos found jobs in other Asean countries and Japan, in small and medium enterprises, agriculture, and other fields, with jobs arranged through employment agencies. The demand for skilled labour in Laos and internationally continues to grow.
Lao workers are currently employed in Thailand, South Korea and Japan, and other countries.
More factory managers and company representatives are visiting the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to discuss the recruitment of skilled workers, according to the ministry’s Department of Labour Skill Development.
Mr Phongxaysack said the ministry organises the national Skills Competition every year and the high quality of vocational education and skills demonstrated reflects the abilities of Lao workers. The contest serves as a benchmark of the knowledge and skills of those chosen by their countries in a bid to win medals in skills competitions at the Asean and world levels.
Unfortunately, many of those who win the competition in Laos are unable to find work. Labour authorities are working with the private sector to improve and promote employment services and self-employment, strengthen workers’ protection, and enhance industrial relations.
By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth