‘Experiences of young Timorese as migrant workers in Korea’

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Wigglesworth, Ann ORCID: 0000-0002-8569-3410 and Fonseca, Z (2016) ‘Experiences of young Timorese as migrant workers in Korea’. In: 2016 Australasian Aid Conference, 10 February 2016-11 February 2016, Australian National University.


Timor-Leste is one of 15 countries which have access to the South Korea’s Employment Permit System allowing foreign workers to fill job roles on temporary visas for up to five years. Since 2009 several thousand Timorese workers have participated in the government to government program. This arrangement is promoted by the Government of Timor-Leste to give Timorese young people aged 18 to 39 access to jobs and to learn job skills that they can use on their return home A small pilot survey of returned workers was undertaken in Dili in July 2015 to find out more about their experiences of work in in Korea as well as information about their post Korea employment experiences on return to Timor-Leste. Although less than half the workers sent to Korea successfully completed their assignment, those interviewed generally spoke well of their employers and valued the experiences they gained. The survey showed that although many workers have struggled to adapt to the high expectations of work demands that are normal in Korea, many felt they had developed useful work skills and were able to contribute to their families’ wellbeing through their income. On returning to Timor-Leste, few have succeeded in obtaining regular work and many see returning to Korea as their main option. This research raises questions about whether the objective of the program for the government has become more focused on merely delivering financial remittances rather than working to ensure that the skills of returning workers are utilised better in the domestic economy of Timor-Leste.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/35912
Official URL http://devpolicy.org/2016-Australasian-aid-confere...
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Timor-Leste; South Korea; employment; social development
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