BANGKOK — Facing labor shortage, the labor ministry said it will soon sign new agreements to allow job seekers from neighboring countries to enter Thailand again and get vaccinated upon their arrival.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the authorities have prepared “400,000 to 500,000” doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the migrant workers. Suchart said the movement of migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos will resume after Thailand signs new MOUs with those countries.
Suchart told reporters that migrant workers entering Thailand under the MOUs will be subject to coronavirus testing and mandatory 14-day quarantine, during which they will be vaccinated. He did not mention who will bear the cost of the quarantine facilities.
The minister added that the agreement may come into effect “from next month.”
Officials have vowed to crack down on people smugglers and illegal job brokers in a bid to reduce the number of migrants crossing into the kingdom illegally. Police said nearly 11,000 people were arrested for their involvement in smuggling and trafficking operations, compared to just 1,456 during the same period last year.
But the problem continues to be fueled by a labor shortage that has been plaguing the country since the coronavirus outbreak began, which drove many workers to leave Thailand.
According to the labour ministry, Thailand has an immediate need for around 420,000 workers, mostly in construction, food, and manufacturing sectors.
By working with the governments of neighbouring countries under the new agreements, Suchart said, the government is confident of putting a significant dent in illegal smuggling operations while allowing the much needed workers to enter Thailand through proper channels.