Cambodian workers are pictured at Aranyaprathet railway station in Sa Kaeo province, June 2014. (Photo: Bangkok Post/Thanarak Khunton)

Hanoi, (VNA) - Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have become top destinations for migrant workers from other ASEAN member states, a World Bank report said on October 9.

Entitled "Migrating to Opportunity", the report showed a significant increase in the bloc’s intra-regional migration between 1995 and 2015, which turned the three countries into regional migration hubs with 6.5 million migrants or 96 percent of total migrant workers in ASEAN.

Thailand hosted 3.75 million ASEAN migrants from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia; Malaysia had 1.48 million mostly from Indonesia and Myanmar; and Singapore had 1.28 million mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia.

According to the report, ASEAN migrants are often low-skilled and undocumented who are compelled to move in search of economic opportunity, mainly in the construction, plantation, and domestic services sectors. Higher-salary jobs are available, yet workers are not always able to take advantage of these opportunities.

The ASEAN Economic Community has taken steps to facilitate mobility, but these regulations only cover skilled professions – doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers, architects, accountants, and tourism professionals – or just five percent of jobs in the region, it added.

"With the right policy choices, sending countries can reap the economic benefits of out-migration while protecting their citizens who choose to migrate for work," Sudhir Shetty, World Bank chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific region, said in a press release.

"In receiving countries, foreign workers can fill labour shortages and promote sustained economic growth, if migration policies are aligned with their economic needs. Inappropriate policies and ineffective institutions mean that the region is missing opportunities to gain fully from migration," he said.-VNA