Phuket “facing foreign labor shortage’
PHUKET TOWN: Although the number of unemployed people has risen dramatically as a result of the tourism downturn, local Thai Rak Thai party leader Dr Yada Palimapan believes Phuket’s industries now need an extra 5,000 more laborers from other countries to kick-start the local economy. Dr Yada told a media conference at the Royal Phuket City Hotel on Sunday that the shortage of foreign labor was hampering Phuket’s long-term economic development. The Phuket Entrepreneurs’ Association (PEA), whose members have been affected by the shortage of unskilled workers, is planning to ask the government to allow an extra 5,000 legal alien workers into the province. Although it appears that Phuket’s has filled its quota of 18,000 foreign workers, the PEA says that 5,000 of those workers, while still registered in Phuket, have returned home or have moved to other provinces, so the actual number of legal aliens working in Phuket is just 13,000. A shortage of legal alien workers could accentuate and extend the current economic downturn, Dr Yada said. Local residents, with rising education standards and ambitions, have disdained manual labor, preferring to work in the tourism sector, retail outlets or other service industries. Phuket was once a preferred destination for alien workers from Burma and Laos but higher wages have attracted many to the Middle East instead.
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