Cross-border labour migration

New recruitment agency ranking released as migrant workers increase in number

The latest ranking of recruitment agencies has shown that the Code of Conduct for companies sending workers abroad is leading to improved standards.

Press release | 18 December 2015
Five-stars agencies at the award ceremony. ©ILO
HANOI (ILO News) – The latest ranking of recruitment agencies has shown that the Code of Conduct for companies sending workers abroad is leading to improved standards.

Released today in Hanoi, the ranking gave nearly one third of companies five stars out of a possible six – but no agencies received the top grade. The event was organized to commemorate International Migrants Day (18 December).

Through the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Australian Government, the 2015 ranking rated 66 Vietnamese recruitment agencies on the basis of their compliance with the Viet Nam Association of Manpower Supply’s (VAMAS’s) Code of Conduct. The Code was introduced in 2010 and implementation ranking has been supported through the ILO since 2012, as part of a programme designed to improve labour migration governance in the ASEAN region.

The ranking aims to improve implementation of the Code and accountability of the recruitment services. It also encourages compliance with Vietnamese laws and international standards to boost the quality of services and agency trademarks while better protecting migrant workers.

“The ranked agencies have shown positive improvements in their operational regulations based on the Code. Several good practices of reducing costs for migrant workers, improving pre-departure and skills training, managing workers abroad and supporting return migrant workers have emerged,” said VAMAS President Nguyen Luong Trao.

He added that many agencies lost valuable marks that would have contributed to a higher ranking due to workers’ complaints about high fees.

According to VAMAS, the earlier recruitment agencies began participating in the implementation and monitoring of the Code, the more improvements are evident in the quality of services they offer to migrant workers.

“By applying the Code, our company has won the confidence of partners, who invested in vocational training facilities so that we could provide direct training for workers in Viet Nam,” said Nguyen Quang Anh, Director General of VINAINCOMEX – an agency that earned five stars in the latest ranking.

Room for improvement

Compared to the first year of ranking, the number of evaluated agencies has more than tripled. Next year, the number of monitored agencies should reach 90, out of the more than 240 operating in Viet Nam.

However, according to the VAMAS president, there remain rooms for improvement in the evaluation process in the coming years.

While the ranking process has focused more on giving bonus points to recruiters with good practices, points will be taken away from agencies which show little effort in strengthening their specific mechanisms based on the Code in order to boost the efficiency of recruiters’ operations.

He also said that the implementation of the Code and the monitoring and evaluation process need more engagement from various stakeholders including VAMAS, State management agencies, inspectors, Overseas Labour Management Boards among other organizations. The Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour already started joining the process this year.

“Promoting self-regulation is important to improve recruitment services and protect migrant workers as the number of Vietnamese choosing to migrate abroad for jobs has been and will still be on the rise,” said Chang-Hee Lee, ILO Viet Nam Director. “Labour migration will continue to be a significant issue that Viet Nam needs to well address in order to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The newly-agreed universal agenda aims to protect all workers, including migrant workers in its Goal 8 and implement well-managed migration policies in its Goal 10.

Migrant workers are vulnerable to human trafficking or forced labour during their migration experience, but the vulnerability can be lessened if they choose to migrate in a regulated manner, and through a recruitment agency well ranked by a reputable ranking system,” said the head of ILO Viet Nam.

According to a pre-departure survey of workers carried out by VAMAS in 2015, three quarters of more than 1,000 interviewed workers needed to borrow money to pay different types of fees to be able to go abroad.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ data show a steady increase in the number of Vietnamese workers migrating cross-border over the years. The total reached 105,000 in 2014 in comparison to 88,000 in 2013.

A new ILO global report released on 16 December indicated that migrant workers totalled 150.3 million in the world with more men migrating for jobs than women.