Vietnam's target to send 87,000 workers overseas this year is still "achievable" despite the recent political unrest in Libya, which forced 10,000 Vietnamese workers to return home, said Dao Cong Hai, deputy head of the Department of Overseas Labour.

"The departure of Vietnamese workers from Libya is not a big problem because there are other nations for the workers to go to," said Hai.

According to the department, demand for labourers is high in places such as Taiwan and Malaysia .

During the first three months of this year, the total number of Vietnamese going to work overseas was nearly 20,000, with Taiwan , the Republic of Korea , Japan and Malaysia being the top destinations.

Hai advised Vietnamese workers to consider Malaysia , a traditional destination for Vietnamese workers.

According to Hai , Malaysia offers many advantages to Vietnamese labourers. The country's demand for labour, especially manual labour in industrial manufacturing and construction is quite high.

At present, the majority of workers who intend to go overseas are not very skilled or experienced, so they should go to countries where the demand for low-skilled labour is high, such as Malaysia , said Hai.

In addition, Vietnamese workers have already developed a good reputation among Malaysian enterprises.

" Malaysia is now willing to offer more jobs to Vietnamese workers," he said. Vietnam and Malaysia have both considerably benefited from 10 years of co-operation in labour exports.

According to Hai, approximately 90,000 Vietnamese are working in Malaysia . The monthly salaries offered to these workers range from 4 million to 8 million VND.

Hai says although Vietnamese workers often prefer richer places such as Taiwan over Malaysia, many cannot afford to be selective in their choice of destination, because it requires more money to go to Taiwan and most of the workers are financially limited.

"These workers should head for Malaysia instead," Hai says.

When asked about the reasons why Vietnamese workers choose to go to Malaysia , many officers from labour export companies say Malaysia is a good market for low-skilled workers.

According to Mai Trong Van from the Hycolasec JSC labour export company, most Vietnamese workers who go to Malaysia come from rural provinces and are poorer than workers in urban areas. He said the Government was offering loans for more workers to go to Malaysia .

Hai from the Department of Overseas Labour said that although Vietnam does intend to send more workers to more developed countries further afield such as Europe and the Middle East, the door is not wide open to Vietnamese workers due to their lack of skills and poor foreign language skills.

According to Hai, 85 percent of Vietnamese workers sent overseas are low-skilled.

Van from Hycolasec JSC said that although his company tried to recruit cooks and kitchen staff to work at restaurants or hotels in Australia , the number of workers meeting the requirements was limited.

"They must have three years of work experience and a high score on the mandatory English language test," he said.

The Department of Overseas Labour is working with labour export companies and local authorities to support people who intend to go to work overseas.

Support is given in the form of loans, vocational training, foreign language classes, sponsorship and favourable policies upon their return to Vietnam .

By the end of 2010, the total number of Vietnamese workers overseas was at 85,000. /.