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Trilateral Agreement on Strengthening Migrant Workers’ Access to Decent Work and Skills Development
Bangkok (22 January 2024) — Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a Trilateral Partnership agreement to foster safe migration and enhance access to decent work and skills development.
Aimed at migrant workers from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar (CLM) who represent the largest migrant communities in Thailand, the initiative intends to reduce barriers for migrants and their families and well as host communities to fully benefit from labour migration and contribute to economic resilience and poverty reduction.
The newly formed partnership with TICA will focus on facilitating bilateral dialogues, capacity building for relevant government officials and provision of skills development to support migrant workers in gaining recognizable skills and certifications that can translate into better employability, access to decent work and improved quality of life in Thailand and upon their return to the countries of origin.
“When migrant workers are equipped with adequate skills, they can better integrate into their workplace and society,” said Géraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission of IOM Thailand. “It enhances their employability and reduces their vulnerability to exploitation, paving ways for good working conditions and the full protection of their rights.”
Labour migration can be a pathway to socio-economic empowerment for migrant workers, fostering sustainable development in countries of origin and destination. Additionally, it helps to fill critical labour shortages and facilitates the transfer of skills that can lead to better, more sustainable reintegration.
Migrant workers have contributed to the socio-economic development of Thailand, as they make up about 10 per cent of the country’s labour force. However, in addition to unsafe migration channels and substandard working conditions experienced by many, only 15 per cent of these migrant workers have received skills training for the positions they hold, according to an IOM assessment in 2021.
Since 2017, IOM has been working with various Thai stakeholders, including employers, to provide technical and soft skills training for CLM migrant workers employed in a range of sectors, such as construction, domestic work, hospitality, manufacturing and textiles.
“The partnership with SDC and IOM will reinforce TICA’s efforts to support skills development for migrant workers from CLM, which play an important role in narrowing down the economic and development gaps between countries across the Mekong sub-region. Meanwhile, through PROMISE Programme (Phase II), TICA’s support for policy dialogues and capacity building for government officials will also strengthen the promotion of ethical and rights-based protection of migrant workers in Thailand,” said Ureerat Chareontoh, Director-General of TICA.
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Thailand, Cambodia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic, H.E. Pedro Zwahlen, who hosted the signing ceremony for the Letter of Intent to kick-start this trilateral partnership, underscored Switzerland's commitment. “We believe that labour migration, if effectively governed, has important, positive economic and social effects on the development of both sending and receiving countries, as well as on the migrant workers themselves, their families and communities.”
Ambassador Arno Wicki, Assistant Director General of the SDC, added that Switzerland values the potential of skills development and the recognition of prior learning for improved access to decent work of migrant workers. "Within its Mekong Region Programme, the SDC wants to contribute to safer and more gainful regional labour migration opportunities through vocational and technical training."
As of January 2024, IOM has worked with governments, the private sector and civil society partners on skills development and certification for over half a million migrant workers across Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand. These activities encompass skills training by employers and government-led training programmes, pre-departure orientation, as well as direct assistance and information on safe migration.
This initiative is part of IOM’s Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement (PROMISE Phase II) programme, aimed at supporting migrant workers to access skills development that can lead to gainful employment and promoting enhanced protection in collaboration with key stakeholders from public and private sectors.