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An enhanced system for sharing data and information on labor migration, including job availabilities and employment conditions was one of the major points underlined in Mekong Institute’s (MI) recently-concluded Regional Training Program on ‘Labor Migration Management in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).’ The two-week training, which kicked off on October 16, was co-organized with the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) to strengthen capacities of relevant government agencies in responding to and managing migration issues and jumpstart discussions for the creation of a labor market information system in the region. A total of 20 mid-level and senior government officers from agencies including the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Public Security Office in the Mekong countries participated in the two-week training held at the MI Residential Training Center, Khon Kaen. 

Opening the event, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, Executive Director of MI, pointed out that labor migration is an issue that cannot be overlooked as GMS countries particularly Thailand depend on each other’s human resources. He further added that bilateral agreements among the countries that allow for the cross-country movement of the labor force only further highlight the need for a labor migration information system that can aid in policymaking. 

Highlighting the importance of labor mobility in the broader ASEAN regional integration strategy, the training covered discussions on the various labor migration issues in the GMS countries, particularly the issue of women migration in the region and the challenges experienced by female migrant workers; cooperation mechanisms and approaches among GMS countries to manage migration; and good practices in migration management including mainstreaming gender perspectives in migrant support policies and programs. Participants were also introduced to the requisite institutional arrangements, procedures and mechanisms for setting up a labor market information sharing system in the GMS aligned with the objectives of ASEAN’s Socio-Cultural Community vision. 

Structured learning visits were likewise organized to complement in-house lectures and provide on-the-ground perspectives and introduce participants to Thailand’s good practices in labor migration management. Sites visited were the Post Arrival and Reintegration Standard Center in Nong Khai and the Office of Labor and Employment in Khon Kaen. 

It is hoped that the knowledge and skills imparted in the training program will drive forward more positive and pro-active solutions and responses to labor migration issues including the development of an effective labor market information system in the Mekong countries.

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