The formal launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on Dec. 31, 2015 officially turn ASEAN to a “single market and production base” for free flows of goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labor. Currently, there are around six million ASEAN citizens working in other ASEAN countries, with the majority low-skilled labor. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are the largest “senders” of labor, while Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei are net “receivers”. Although flows of skilled labor in ASEAN have increased, they remain small in comparison to the flows of unskilled or semi-skilled labor migration. At national and lower levels, however, there has been a limited understanding (not only among the public but also among policy makers and government officers) and then the corresponding under-preparation for AEC, especially for the free flow skilled labor, both to and out Vietnam . This is the rationale for this cooperation project between RLS and VPDS, aiming to provide policy makers and relevant stakeholders at national level with scientific evidence of labor mobility in ASEAN, and the patterns of cross-country labor movements in ASEAN and challenges in ASEAN labor market.
The workshop – titled Viet Nam labor mobility in ASEAN: Three years review, dated September 10th, 2018, provided a platform for participants from different ministries, research institutes to have an overview of AEC and current situation of Vietnam workforce in the context of integration. Three workshop speakers from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs, and an independent expert pointed out the current challenges for AEC and Vietnam labor mobility. More specifically, the technical issues remain among ASEAN member countries. A common definition on skilled workers, a national system for assessment and evaluation of skill workers, and mutual recognition of one another’s standard among member countries have not been fully and equally reached among 10 member countries. For the specific case of Vietnam, the current labor force structure fails to meet the expected standards. More specifically, 80% of the labor forces are seen as “unskilled” (San’s presentation). The workshop provided audience with a full picture of the current situation of Vietnam labor mobility.