HCM CITY — Strategies to protect workers against unemployment and help them find better work are being discussed by representatives of ASEAN governments and workers and organisations of employers at a three-day seminar organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in HCM City.
"Work introduction and vocational training centres are efficient tools to balance workforce and job supply and demand. In the current economic downturn, solutions for unemployment have become more urgent," said Nguyen Thanh Hoa, deputy minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Viet Nam has 130 vocational training centres around the country.
"Unemployment insurance supports workers who have lost their jobs but can quickly return to the labour market," he added.
Eight of 11 ASEAN nations are using this kind of insurance. In Viet Nam, unemployment insurance has been offered since 2009.
This year, more than 8 million people are covered with unemployment insurance, with 480,000 of them receiving monthly support and 400,000 job consultancy.
There is still VND14.5 trillion (US$700 million) in the national unemployment insurance fund.
"Through the seminar, we would like to attract the concern of ASEAN, and increase awareness and support for job services to ensure a stable labour market," said Dura Yanti Theresa of the ASEAN Secretariat.
She said that more unemployment insurance needed to be offered in ASEAN to increase social welfare.
Although ASEAN recovered well after the global financial crisis in 2008, one-third of the population still live at poor conditions and many others will become poor because of the current economic downturn.
"The region was facing strong pressure to increase social welfare and ensure jobs for labourers. Policies for a stable welfare are a must," said Gyorgy Szirackzi of the ILO office in Viet Nam.
"Sharing experiences from different governments, employees, employers and labour organisations here at the seminar will help us to develop better policies," he added.
The main causes of widespread poverty in lower-income countries in ASEAN are structural, including under-employment and vulnerable employment, and work that is precarious, poorly-paid, and unprotected.
In Viet Nam, six out of 10 workers could be described as in vulnerable employment, with the rate is even higher for women (nearly seven out of 10).
In the Southeast Asia region, there were around 180 million workers in vulnerable employment (which includes income from their own jobs and/or contributing family workers) in 2011. This figure is equivalent to nearly 62 per cent of all workers.
In addition, nearly one out of three workers in the region were living in families that earned less than US$2 a day.
Experience from other countries shows that a combination of unemployment cash benefits and policies to support reemployment is among the most effective ways to protect the unemployed and their families against poverty, while helping them find employment quickly.
The seminar was supported by the ILO-Japan Multi-bilateral Programme, which provides technical cooperation to help countries in the Asia-Pacific region promote decent employment for citizens. — VNS