International labour migration is a defining feature of the global economy, with growing numbers of jobseekers looking beyond local and national boundaries for employment opportunities.

Migrant workers make countless meaningful contributions to societies. They add to the development of their own countries through remittances and help facilitate the transfer of skills and creation of business and trade networks. In countries of destination, migrant workers fill critical labour shortages, especially within the context of ageing populations and changing labour demographics.

IOM estimates that Thailand is home to 3.9 million migrant workers from Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Viet Nam (2019). This suggests that migrants currently constitute over 10 per cent of Thailand’s total labour force. With the demographic profile of Thailand’s population indicating there will be a sustained demand for migrant workers to fill labour shortages.

Despite the abundance of positive impacts, the full potential of labour migration for Thailand and countries of origin is often not realized. Many migrant workers face serious human rights risks throughout the migration process and at work, including discrimination, unequal wages, and restrictions on their fundamental rights and freedoms. Migrant workers – especially those in lower skills categories and/or employed in the informal economy – remain vulnerable to unacceptable working conditions and exploitation that, in the worst cases, can amount to human trafficking and forced labour.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, IOM is working to enhance the lives of labour migrants in Thailand by:

  • Supporting high-level national dialogue towards the development of migration policies for the benefit of the country, migrants and society at large;

  • Promoting the protection of migrant workers’ rights at all stages of migration through ethical recruitment, business and human rights and access to justice;

  • Help improve migrants’ access to basic social services and assistance while fostering cooperation and common understanding of migrant issues among all stakeholders involved in migration management in Thailand; 

  • Providing men and women migrants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam with labour market, demand-oriented professional and life-skills to enhance their access to improved employment opportunities and conditions, both in Thailand and upon return to countries of origin.