The Middle East remains one of the major markets for Vietnamese guest workers despite ongoing social and political unrest across the region, the Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has said.

"The huge demand of labour and the variety of careers for both skilled and unskilled manual workers make the region a promising market for Vietnamese guest workers," said Nguyen Thanh Hoa, speaking at a conference on the 2011 National Target Programme on Employment held last week in Da Nang City.

"Much effort has been made to explore the market over the last seven years," he said.

Labour exports to the region will continue when it regains political stability, he noted.

Malaysia, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Japan are other major markets for Vietnamese guest workers.

The country has 167 labour-export companies, of which 20 percent are considered lacking in capacity for the work, according to a report released by the Overseas Labour Management Department.

The country targets sending 87,000 guest workers this year, with labourers from the country's 62 poor localities accounting for 7,000-8,000.

The ministry will focus on providing loans from the National Employment Fund for companies to ensure job creation for 1.6 million workers as this year's target, with a priority to companies to create jobs in non-agriculture, according to Tao Bang Huy, deputy director of the ministry's Employment Department.

Localities will be supported to improve labour-market forecast systems and information to facilitate effective connections between employers and employees.

Last year, more than 85,000 guest workers were sent to 25 countries and territories, an increase of 11,000 workers compared with the previous year. A total of 1.6 million people were employed last year./.