Priority should be given to addressing job prospects deterioration: ILO Asia-Pacific Director

News | 25 October 2012

HANOI (ILO News) – Asia and the whole world should urgently address the deterioration of job prospects as it is starting to feed social tension around the globe, new ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Yoshiteru Uramoto said today.

“We should think carefully how to address this global crisis, not only looking at the economic front but also at the social consequences,” said Mr Uramoto while addressing the 4th Asia-European Labour Ministers’ Conference organized in Hanoi.

The two-day event, which will wrap up tomorrow, focused on employment and social protection as keys to sustainable and inclusive growth.

According to Mr Uramoto, unemployment is only the tip of the iceberg. The major concern in the developing Asia is the quality of jobs – low productivity, shortage of social protection, rights and voice.

The ILO Asia-Pacific Labour Market Update launched earlier this week shows the persistence of low numbers of workers in wage employment. Around four out of five workers in Nepal, India and Pakistan work informally in the non-agricultural sector. In Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, the proportion was around 70 per cent. Many of these workers are women.

Speaking at the regional event, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also emphasized the links between decent work creation, social protection with sustainable development and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

“Measures aimed at economic recovery should be adopted at the same time with the implementation of our decent work agenda,” said the Vietnamese Government leader.

Director of ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for East, South-East Asia and the Pacific Maurizio Bussi, meanwhile, said the export-oriented growth model supported by cheap labour may have helped some countries economically and lifted millions of people out of poverty but is a problem itself.

“It has shown to be unbalanced, unfair and unsustainable,” he said.

Youth unemployment and underemployment, which have reached an unprecedented level around the world, was another main topic discussed at the ministers’ conference. European and Asian aggregate youth jobless rates are nearly three times that of adults.

As pointed out at the International Labour Conference held last June, Mr Uramoto said, the ILO called for urgent action on job-rich growth with a focus on the promotion of decent employment opportunities for young women and men.

To address the problem, Koos Richelle, Director General for the European Commission's Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion highlighted the need to invest in the supply side of labour market, particularly better skill training.

Social protection and youth employment were also the key themes of the bilateral meeting between Mr Uramoto and Mr Richelle on the sideline of the Asia-European Labour Ministers’ Conference. The ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific also met with ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines as well vice ministers of China, Cyprus and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.