THE International Labor Organization (ILO) expressed belief that the threat of illegal migration remains in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), particularly among low-skilled laborers, despite the impending regional integration by 2015.

According to ILO Senior Program officer Manuel Imson, low-skilled workers, such as household service workers and construction workers, will remain prone to labor abuses if measures are not put in place.

"In the absence of this framework for less skilled workers, it will lead to more illegal migration," said Imson.

Because of this, he disclosed that the ILO will be coming out with a "harmonized" list of low-skilled laborers that will be given premium in employment within members of the Asean.

Imson said the ILO will organize a series of tripartite dialogues to be held within the year between workers, employers, and member-states.

"During these meetings, representatives will come out with the harmonized lists of the occupation they would like to promote and to which Asean country," Imson said.

Currently, only selected professionals, such as engineers, nurses, architects services, surveying qualification, medical and dental practitioners, accountants, and workers in the tourism services, are entitled to mutual recognition agreement (MRA).

An MRA is a prerequisite to the formation of the Asian Qualification Reference Framework (AQRF), which allows professional services in an Asean member state to be mutually-recognized by other Asean countries.

"ILO is now lobbying to mount a similar agreement for less-skilled workers since the AQRF does not cover them despite being the bulk of the Asean migrants," Imson said.

"We are hoping this would lead to a regional action plan for the movement of less skilled workers. ILO will help in this process through capacity building," added Imson. (Sunnex)