The Mekong Institute (MI) organized an expert’s meeting for its upcoming Labor Migration and Care Program. It hosted 13 experts from various government organizations, non-government organizations, and academic institutions with involvement in migration in the GMS countries. The meeting was set to validate the need of implementing MIs Labor Migration and Care Program as well as to set-up a cooperative action plan for the next three years. It was held at the Mekong Institute, Khon Kaen, Thailand on the 11th of July, 2011. 

Mekong Institutes Labor Migration and Care is one of the three thematic areas entrusted by the MI Governing Council. With the financial support of the New Zealand Government, MI conducted rapid capacity building needs assessment on Labor Migration and Care in the GMS countries in the first quarter of 2011. Based on the findings from the needs assessment mission, a three-year Labor Migration Program was formulated in consultation with development partners and collaborating agencies in the region. The focused areas of the program are: proper labor migration management, skills standardization and recognition. 

In the opening remarks, Dr. Suchat Katima, the Director of MI, emphasized the fact that the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) cannot stop trans-boarder labor migration because the need of low and semi-skilled labor is still present. Furthermore, he said that labor migration widely contributes to the fulfillment of the macro-economic demands of GMS countries. Therefore theres a need for consultation with stakeholders to come up with a framework on how to properly manage and uplift labor migration in the region. 

Many constraints were brought up during the meeting. Mr. Set Aung from the Asia Development Research Institute said, We need capacity building training at the country level to ensure the understanding on labor migration policy and its implementation among implementers. 

Ms. Sinapan Samydorai from the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers added, The labor migration policies are existing but they lack linkage with the ASEAN framework on migrant workers. 

Ms. Jacqueline Pollock from the Migrant Action Program further pointed out, We are lacking of coherent policies. Each state having and implementing their own labor migration policies and this is creating confusion and difficulties among implementers and labor migrants. 
Ms. Muanpong Juntopas also informed, There are plenty of researches on labor migration but were lacking an organization working on digesting those researches into easy languages for the integrated implementation. 

With that, Dr. Suchat urged all the GMS countries and their relevant sectors to closely cooperate and work with MI for the effective project implementation of our programs in the sub-region. This prompted the International Organization for Migration and the International Labor Organization to offer their partnership with MI on labor migration programs, as well as skill standardization and recognition projects in the near future. 

The contributions from the 13 experts resulted in the validation of the need of a specific labor migration program and the setting-up of a detailed action plan thereof. 

The experts who attended are as follows: Vu Thi Thuy from the Ministry of Labour & Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnam; Onevong Keobounnavong, Director, Labour Management Division from Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Vientiane, Lao PDR ; Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, Assistant Director, Divisional of Labour Exchange Office (Yangon), Department of Labor ; Carmela Torres Senior Skills and Employability Specialist, ILO Bangkok Office ; Yuko Hamada from Regional Migration Specialist of the International Organization for Migration ; Jacqueline Pollock from the Migrant Action Program; Plaii Boonlert, Advocacy and Research Officer (Chiang Mai Office) from, Mekong Migration Network (MMN); Philip Robertson Jr, Technical Advisor, Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers; Sinapan Samydorai, Regional Coordinator from Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers; Shum Yun Shan, Project Coordinator, Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers; Set Aung, Founder and Director, Asia Development Research Institute; Muanpong Juntopas, Research Fellow of Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI); Yan Flint, Khon Kaen University International College. 

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