Young Timorese Promise to Follow South Korean Rules as Work Exchange Program Expands Featured

By Gil dos Santos February 22, 2024 181

DILI: Timorese worker Victor Tilman said he is proud to represent his country working in South Korea and because of this is committed to understanding his host country’s work and immigration rules and upholding them.

The young man, one of 71 Timorese to sign a short-term job contract with Secretary of State for Vocational Training and Placement (SEFOPE) recently, sought income and experience opportunities with foreign job exchange programs he knows are supported by government of Timor-Leste but is aware he must abide by South Korean work rules to stay on.

“…I signed the agreement made with the government as it’s fundamental to enable us to go work in South Korea,” said Victor, who attended the signing ceremony with his mother and father.

“I promised that I will work in the system rather than become a victim of work outside the system,” he said.

Finding jobs and improving the quality of life are among the biggest concerns of young people under 25 years,  who make up more than twenty percent of Timorese population, according to national housing and population statistics.

The latest job recruitment  round for South Korea came after South Korean Ambassador for Timor-Leste Shin Mantaek said more than 1300 Timorese were working illegally in South Korea in August 2023, after leaving the job exchange program.

“Currently 3,700 Timorese are working in South Korea based on reports, of these, 1300 have left the system and are working illegally in South Korea”, Ambassador Mantael told reporters at the time.

SEFOPE, who coordinate Timor-Leste’s foreign work exchange programs, has tried to strengthen Timorese workers understanding of foreign work and immigration systems to support Timorese nationals adapt.

"While you are working you have to guarantee your contract agreement made with the companies, "said Rogerio Araujo Mendonca, from SEFOPE.

“In case you have any problems while you are in South Korea such as passport renewal or extension then the Secretary State of Training Professional and Employment (SEFOPE) will coordinate with the Ministry of Justice and relevant parties to handle this and any (work) contract problem,” he said at a signing ceremony in Dili on Friday

So far Timor-Leste through SEFOPE has sent more than 5,500 Timorese to South Korea to work, according to official data.

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