Caption: Minister Lee (4 th from left) and Amb. Dizon-De Vega with other meeting participants; Plans for the EPS system in 2023 were discussed at the meeting; Amb. Dizon-de Vega confers with Minister Lee and other MOEL officials
The meeting was held on 22 December 2022 at the Royal Hotel in Seoul, and attended by the representatives of the sixteen EPS sending countries, namely, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kyrgyztan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. It was the first face to face gathering of the Ambassadors with MOEL since 2018, or after 4 years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In his welcome message, Minister Lee expressed his profound gratitude to the sending countries, citing that without their support, the EPS could not have succeeded as a strategic platform for foreign employment in South Korea for nearly 20 years. He announced that the Korean government will intensify its labor inspection in 2023 to cover 3,000 workplaces to ensure their strict compliance with labor and occupational safety standards and equal treatment for foreign workers. He added that MOEL will further expand the vocational training opportunities for non-professional visa holders to equip them with skills that can meet the rapidly changing labor market demand of the country.
As the annual quota for EPS will reach the largest ever at 110,000, MOEL requested the cooperation of the sending countries to improve the transmission system of EPS so that all workers can more quickly enter Korea and to strengthen the selection and pre-departure training to prevent adjustment problems. As the rate of overstayers affect the annual quota per country, MOEL also asked for their full cooperation as the government steps up measures to prevent overstaying foreign nationals.
During the open forum, Ambassador De Vega proposed to increase the employment period of Sincere workers to more than 10 years to maximize their productive capacity and provide stronger incentive to both workers and Korean employers. She also raised the concern of providing more employment opportunities for female EPS workers in the manufacturing industry, and offered to partner with MOEL in exploring the inclusion of care workers and other occupations in the service industry of EPS. "In 2022, the Philippines breached a record of over 7,500 EPS workers who entered Korea through the cooperation and support of our governments. As we prepare to commemorate the 75th PH-Korea bilateral relations in 2024, we are committed to boost and explore new areas of cooperation on people to people exchange, labor, and human resource development that will be mutually beneficial to our countries," the Ambassador said. Ambassador Dizon-De Vega likewise delivered, on behalf of the sending countries, the congratulatory toast remarks for the meeting to close another productive year for the EPS partnership. END