ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Lao govt vows to build well trained workforce
Publication Date : 23-09-2013
The government is committed to producing skilled workers so they can be employed on projects funded by foreign investors.
This was the message from Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Onchanh Thammavong, when she addressed the media in Vientiane last week during the government's annual meeting with provincial governors. She was commenting on the fact that foreign-operated mega projects are not employing a sufficiently large number of Lao nationals.
“Our government has approved mega investment projects because we want to create jobs. It is the hope of our government to benefit the Lao people in this way,” Onchanh said.
In recent years, the government has tried to enforce the Labour Law by requiring foreign-run projects to hire only 10 percent of their manual workers and 20 percent of management staff from overseas, but it has proved difficult to implement this ruling.
The problem is that the number of adequately skilled personnel in Laos does not meet the needs of the job market.
Many people cross the border to work in Thailand while local industries suffer from a shortage of workers. Businesses in Laos offer only low wages, claiming that local workers lack the necessary skills, even though many of them meet the required standards.
The government estimates that from 2011 to 2015 Laos will have a shortfall of 90,000 workers and will have to continue to hire people from other countries.
“In the past two years, Laos has hired over 20,000 people from other countries. And we expect to hire a further 70,000 people in the next two years to meet our needs,” Onechanh said.
However, she noted that the import and export of labour is common wo rldwide and no country can avoid it, including Laos.
With many thousands of people crossing the border to work in Thailand, the government is trying to promote in vestment in various sectors to provide better job opportunities in Laos.
The government has also tried to bolster investment in rural areas in a bid to create more jobs.
At present, most people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, with more than 80 percent of the population working in this sector.
Onchanh said she was acutely aware of the need to produce skilled workers as Laos pursues a path towards modernisation and industrialisation.
She stressed the need for the sectors responsible to cooperate in identifying how many people and what kind of jobs are needed, and how to actually supply the market. Unless Laos can provide sufficiently trained personnel, the country will not benefit much from the inflow of foreign investment.
“In 2013-14, we will create national standards in the service sector so that Lao people can work in other Asean countries,” Ms Onchanh said.
“We will continue to amend legislation with a focus on skill development. We will produce many more workers of good quality before the Asean Economic Community comes into effect in 2015.”