The Ministry of Labour is preparing to allow the return of labourers from three neighbouring countries under a memorandum of understanding (MoU), after a survey showed 424,703 migrant workers are needed to bolster the nation's workforce.
Research by the Department of Employment (DoE) in May found that business operators need 256,029 Myanmar, 130,138 Cambodian and 38,536 Lao nationals in their workplaces.
Most of the jobs are in the agriculture, livestock, construction, hospitality services and garment production sectors.
The move is in line with government policy, overseen by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, to solve labour shortage issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and its containment.
"Migrant workers can help to steer the business sector in the right direction, now and when the pandemic ends," DoE director-general Pairoj Chotikasathien said yesterday.
Last year, Mr Pairoj said the department must lower labour imports while attempting to help skilled workers return to the workforce to solve labour shortages.
In addition, the DoE is consulting with the Public Health Ministry and other state agencies to provide guidance to resume its intake of unskilled labourers under the MoU, Mr Pairoj said.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin welcomed Deputy Tourism Minister Sok Sokrethya of Cambodia, who is a personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, for a discussion about labour issues on Friday.
Cambodian migrants have traditionally been crucial to the Thai economy, especially the agricultural sector, along the border, Mr Suchart said.
Gen Prayut also stressed the importance of solving labour shortages, particularly in export businesses, construction, textile industries and frozen food, as the economy tries to get back on its feet.
Mr Suchart told the meeting that in light of Covid-19 outbreak, the ministry has revised labour regulations on documenting illegal labourers to ease employment issues.
This will lead to quicker issuing of work permits as well as covering their social security and health checks.
"The DoE is also preparing a special MoU to import labourers in some particular tasks. All must be vaccinated and quarantined first," Mr Suchart said.