Asean integration seen to create 14M jobs

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

FOURTEEN million jobs are expected to be created with the anticipated formation of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, said the International Labor Organization (ILO).

In a statement, the ILO said the improved free-flow of skilled labor, services, investment and goods among the 10 Asean member states is expected to bode well for workers in the region, in general.

"It could generate 14 million additional jobs and improve the livelihoods of 600 million women and men living in the region," said the ILO citing a study it conducted with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

"The AEC could accelerate economic growth and structural change and double productivity in some Asean economies, while generating 14 million additional jobs and creating new opportunities for prosperity for hundreds of millions of people," it further said.

The study said that, by 2015, high-skilled jobs are projected to grow by 41 percent, or 14 million, while medium-skilled jobs will grow by 22 percent or 38 million, and low-skilled by 24 percent or 12 million.

Nevertheless, the ILO warned that mismanaging the AEC could also result to increasing inequality and worsen existing labor market deficits, such as vulnerable and informal employment, and working poverty.

"The report predicts that skills shortages and skills mismatches are likely to worsen, due to inadequate availability and quality of education and training," said the ILO.

The organization, then, called on Asean member-states to develop policies and institutions that support inclusive and fair development.

It said that if countries are to reap the benefits of labor mobility, they will need to prioritize three critical areas: ratifying, implementing and enforcing international Conventions; extending the coverage and portability of social security; and implementing the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

"There is an urgent need to improve the quality, coverage and sustainability of social protection, starting with the establishment of a social protection floor for all," said the ILO.

Other priority areas for action identified by the ILO report include: more decisive management of structural changes; improved alignment of different sectoral and national policies; strengthening of regional cooperation and implementation of existing commitments; stronger labor market institutions (including wage-setting) to support inclusive prosperity and growth; enhanced social protection; support for small enterprises; more effective skills' recognition systems; and closer links between education and the labor market.

"Ultimately, Asean's plan for greater regional integration will be judged on how much it benefits ordinary working men and women in the region. Policy makers must not miss this opportunity to ensure the benefits of the region’s impressive development are enjoyed by all," said the ILO. (HDT/Sunnex)

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