PH to take part drafting ASEAN regional action plan on the future of work

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is planning to craft a regional action plan on the future of work, requiring member states like the Philippines to draft their national action plans to realize this regional initiative, according to a labor official.

Ahmma Charisma Lobrin-Satumba, executive director of the Department of Labor and Employment-Institute for Labor Studies (DOLE-ILS), said, “The member states have agreed to come up with a regional action plan, and we are expected to provide inputs to that regional action plan.”

Speaking at a recent conference on the future of work, Satumba added, “This forum is actually our first step in increasing awareness on the ASEAN statement and eventually we will be asking you [to be] involved in crafting a national action plan.”

ASEAN member states are being asked to deliberate on a regional action plan to implement the “ASEAN Statement on the Future of Work: Embracing Technology for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth,” signed in Singapore on April 29, 2019 by ASEAN senior labor officials.

The statement was adopted is in response to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Global Commission Report on the Future of Work released in January this year calling for a “human-centered agenda” to promote decent, inclusive and sustainable work for all.

The ASEAN statement also reaffirms the members’ shared commitment to address common challenges facing the ASEAN community in promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all, in support of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025.

It also recognizes the importance of preparing ASEAN workers and businesses for, and protecting them against, the impact of transformative changes such as technological advances, demographic transition and the rise of the green economy on the future of work.

Further, it identifies actions to prepare the workforce for the future of work in view of these transformative changes that offer both opportunities and challenges.

Satumba said these actions include strengthening the capacity of public and private institutions through improving technical and vocational education and training (TVET) standards, and using TVET to skill, upskill and re-skill workers.

Another is increasing participation of vulnerable groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related careers and trainings on technological skills and digital platforms to facilitate their access to decent work.

Moreover, there should be support for efforts of SMEs to invest in decent work and manage technology to improve quantity and quality of jobs.

Best practices should also be shared among ASEAN members on implementing responsive policies to address the changing nature of employment relationships; and fiscally sustainable social protection initiatives must be promoted.

Another action proposed is supporting ASEAN employers’ and workers’ organizations in capacity-building initiatives for collective representation and social dialogue.

The statement also calls for strengthening tripartite relations to enable partners to work collectively towards continued sustainable development of the ASEAN community and creation of decent work for its workforce, and enhancing collaboration with relevant stakeholders, such as other ASEAN sectoral bodies, to facilitate a coordinated ASEAN response.

Satumba said the tripartite working group (WG) on the future of work has issued four recommendations on the process of implementing the ASEAN statement and regional action plan.

The first is for ASEAN member states to engage their tripartite partners and relevant stakeholders in national discussions on the future of work, which Satumba said the labor department is now doing and will continue to do so.

Also recommended is for ASEAN member states to seek views from other partners, such as other ASEAN sectoral bodies, in implementing the ASEAN statement.

ASEAN member states should also deliberate on a regional action plan to implement the ASEAN statement at the next Senior Labor Officials Meeting (SLOM) and SLOM-WG meeting.

Finally, ASEAN members should engage tripartite partners and relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the statement and regional action plan.

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