The impact of demographic change has a profound impact on the world of work. According to 2015 data from the United Nations, the number of older persons— those aged 60 years or over—has increased substantially in recent years in most countries and regions, and growth is projected to accelerate in the coming decades. Projections from the UN indicate that in 2050 the oldest-old (people aged 80 years or over) will number 434 million, having more than tripled in number since 2015, Asia will eventually become home to the largest number of older people in the world. Thus, a development strategy for an employment-rich and equitable growth of the care economy in Asia is increasingly imperative.
Towards a Solution
In the event of China’s 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), China emphasizes it’s commitment to the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and to support developing countries in the areas of human resources, development planning and programmes, including through South South Development Partnerships. As part of this commitment, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) has established a South-South Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) framework with ILO which combined a wide range of technical initiatives in the field of employment promotion and social protection. The Future of Work in Asia project is one of these initiatives. An expert meeting on Future of Work in Asia was organized aimed to strengthen the capacity of ILO constituents to mitigate risks and unlock opportunities in the wake of the large-scale labour market transformation processes in Asia.
The immediate meeting objective is to strengthen the evidence base about the Future of Work in Asia, with focus on the impact of demographic change and the employment creation potential but also decent work risks of the care economy. Experiences and the identification of best practices between ASEAN countries to promote employment-rich and equitable growth in the care economy, in the context of aging population in the region, were exchanged. Exchanges between China and ASEAN countries fit the need for knowledge and experience sharing. The expert meeting applied the SSTC modality, which gathered and facilitated knowledge and experience exchanges among public labour market research and social security research institutions from China, Europe and selected ASEAN countries.
The expert meeting strengthened the capacity of ILO constituents in China and other ASEAN countries and improved the evidence base about the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific.
The immediate meeting outcome is increased knowledge on skills development strategies to promote decent work in the care economy as it contributed to increased knowledge among policy level stakeholders. All participants have displayed strong interests and commitment to promote SSTC as an efficient modality for the ASEAN countries to take advantages of the aging population and stimulate an employment-rich and equitable growth in the care economy of the region.
The expert meeting was funded by the MOHRSS and held in collaboration with the ITCILO Turin. China has been an important partner for the ILO and has been contributing to promoting decent work in Asia. The two signed a Partnership Agreement to promote South-South Cooperation in 2012 and a new Partnership Agreement in 2018. The expert meeting is a result of this long-standing partnership with China.
Similar initiatives will require a similar long-standing partnership where both parties will benefit by promoting the exchange of good practices and lessons learned on employment creation potential of the care economy between the interested party and other ASEAN countries and thus strongly supported by the interested party’s organization. Addressing the challenges caused by the demographic changes will result in a more sustainable economy by eliminating the problems to the challenges.