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Asean Affairs   6 June  2011

Will labor shortages hinder the AEC?

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     6 June 2011

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Two of Asean’s most dynamic economies, Vietnam and Thailand, have recently indicated that they need more labor.

In today’s news, foreign and domestic businesses in Vietnam are expected to need 100,000 additional workers, with 38 percent of the demand requiring skilled labor during the next five years.

Earlier in Thailand, Japanese employers, who account for the largest number of foreign firms in Thailand, said they might need as many as 700,000 more workers during the coming years. This announcement was made before the recent earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster occurred in Japan. That disaster has already propelled Japanese SMEs to look more earnestly abroad for foreign sites to relocate their businesses.

Thai business leaders have also spoken out about the shortages of skilled and unskilled labor in Thailand. One of the most recent is Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union Frozen's president. The company is a major seafood products company in Thailand.

The labor protocol for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) calls for the mobility of skilled labor, not unskilled workers. This system might prove to be insufficient to meet the workforce demands that are expected to accelerate in the region in 2015.

Countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand already provide millions of jobs for workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as there are insufficient supplies of labor within their own borders to fill corporate needs.

The issues of unskilled migrant laborers and the competition for skilled workers are both areas that may prove to be hurdles to the AEC following its implementation in 2015.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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