Thailand faces labour shortage due to border closures hinh anh 1Migrant workers at the Labour Ministry (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Bangkok (VNA) - A labour shortage, particularly in manpower-intensive industries such as agribusiness and food processing, is likely to intensify over the long term in Thailand as the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult for foreign labourers to move across borders.

According to President of the Labour and Skill Development Committee and Vice Chairman of the Thai Board of Trade Poj Aramwattananont, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers returned home following the outbreak. Most workers who returned home have yet to return to Thailand, while new infections are rising in neighbouring countries, leading the government to retain its strict lockdown measures along the borders.

Prior to the outbreak, there were about 3 million foreign workers legally registered. Foreign workers represent up to 50-60 percent of the workforce in certain labour-intensive industries such as agribusiness and food.

Thailand also remains short of workers in elderly care and as housekeepers, the official said.

He added although Thai workers are encouraged to work in the industrial sector, many unemployed Thais are uninterested in working in factories related to food processing, rubber gloves, food and agricultural products.

The private sector is calling on all parties to come up with measures to stimulate or entice Thai unemployed workers to work in industries such as the agricultural and food industries, which are estimated to need 200,000-300,000 workers.

After the pandemic recedes, business owners who fail to find workers may opt to use more automated systems and machines, eventually resulting in higher unemployment in the country.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) reported total unemployment of 750,000 people in the second quarter, making up 1.95 percent of the total workforce. That figure is the highest since the second quarter of 2009./.