Asian office workers wearing face masks working in the new normal office and doing social distancing during coronavirus covid-19 pandemic

A new center is launched to help ASEAN countries

A new center that aims to boost regional collaboration to prepare Asean for the changing nature of work was launched on Tuesday.

The Regional Centre for the Future of Work will institutionalize the collective effort to take advantage of emerging opportunities and tackle challenges, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Singapore Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in announcing the launch of this new center at a conference.

She added that the new center will bring together international experts and regional tripartite stakeholders to foster social dialogue, share knowledge, and build capabilities.

This comes as Covid-19 causes upheaval in labor markets worldwide.

Minister Teo highlighted how as many as 93 percent of the world’s workers experienced full or partial workplace closures in the first half of the year, and businesses were forced to adapt and shift to remote working arrangements.

“In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of working hours lost in the second quarter of the year was equivalent to 235 million full-time jobs”, she said. Vulnerable workers in informal and low-wage work were the hardest hit.

“We, the ASEAN countries, face common challenges related to the digital transformation of industries, implementing safe workplace measures and adapting HR (human resources) strategies to enable workers to fulfill their potential,” said the minister in her keynote address at the start of the three-day HR Tech Festival Asia conference.

How will this new center help?

The new center will support Asean in putting the statement into action by focusing on three areas that have become even more relevant during the pandemic, said Teo.

“Whether it is creating new jobs and training opportunities, implementing cost-cutting measures, or managing excess manpower, Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations must work together to ensure that business and workers can continue to thrive during this pandemic and beyond, especially those in lower-end and more precarious jobs,” said Teo.

She said the center’s first initiative is the ASEAN future of work track as part of the HR Tech Festival Asia event.

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