The Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is taking steps to improve the quality of workers’ skills in response to the needs of the job market in Laos and the region.

A senior ministry official said the ministry is continuing to provide skill development training courses aimed at equipping people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with essential working skills so they can find jobs in Laos or other countries.

The demand for a skilled labour force in Laos and abroad continues to grow. At present, Lao workers are employed in many countries including Thailand, South Korea and Japan.

Last year, as many as 50,712 workers found jobs overseas, including 27,176 women, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

In addition to the large number of Lao people working in Thailand, Japan looks set to become a new destination for Lao nationals as the country is in need of more foreign workers.

Laos is now actively working with a Korean partner to create opportunities for Lao nationals to work in Korea. In this connection, the two countries share information and experiences in updating labour legislation including skills development, competency testing, employment promotion, and job market information.

Director of the Employment Service Centre at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Phongsavanh, said that each year South Korea permits 500 Lao nationals to take up jobs in the country, following the 2016 agreement under the Employment Permit System EPS-TOPIK.

Director-general of the Lao-Korea Institute for Skills Development, Bounma Sitthisom, said the centre recently launched a Competency-Based Training Programme to produce competent workers who could meet the needs of employers in Laos and other countries.

The training programme is part of efforts to improve labour skills and ensure a sufficient supply of skilled labour for small and medium-sized enterprises, he said.

In recent years, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has seen success in improving the skills of people from central and local areas through professional training courses, as well as providing incentives to encourage them to be better students and carry out their duties conscientiously.

Labour authorities have also introduced initiatives to keep local communities informed about the benefits of improved work skills so people are more likely to find jobs in the competitive labour market, Bounma said.