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ASEAN Economic Integration and Labour Migration: Challenges and Opportunities

7 - 11 December 2015

Third ASEAN course organized by ILO-ITC-COMPAS, Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar, Bali, Indonesia

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This training course is the third in a series organized collaboratively between the ILO, COMPAS and the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO). The first five-day course was held in March 2013 and attended by mid-ranking officials from ASEAN Member States and workers’ and employers’ organizations. The second event, a two-day program titled ‘The Senior Executive Seminar’ was designed exclusively for senior ranking officials of governments of ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, Regional Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations and Regional Civil Society Representatives. In 2015, a new five-day training course will again be open to mid-level officials, not lower than Director in rank. This course will provide an opportunity for participants to attend a range of lectures on contemporary issues in labour migration by leading international and regional academics and policy specialists.

ASEAN Member States are currently pursuing plans for economic integration in the region. By 2015, Member States have committed to removing all barriers to the cross-border movement of goods and services among them, establishing ASEAN as a single market and production base with the goal of making ASEAN more dynamic and competitive. This is expected to have far-reaching consequences on the region’s economic development, its capital and labour markets, and the structure and competitiveness of its industries. A key challenge is now the task of coordinating policies to facilitate the cross-border movement of the region’s skilled workforce, ensuring adequate social protection for all national and foreign workers.

This course aimed to contribute to an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are likely to be faced in regulating labour migration in the context of economic integration.


Up to 29 participants were invited to attend this course. Participants will be made up of mid-level government officials, ASEAN Secretariat, regional workers’ and employers’ organizations, and civil society representatives.


The course is structured around 7 “modules” covering key issues relevant to ASEAN countries. Each module will be delivered through lectures, interactive activities, and a concluding plenary discussion. The modules and lead lecturers include:

Module 1: ASEAN Integration 2015

This introductory module will frame the discussions for the following days. It will seek to highlight the labour migration trends in ASEAN, developments towards realizing the ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN 2020 vision, and deliberate on questions of integration and citizenship.

Module 2: Regulating labour immigration and emigration:

What are the effects of labour emigration on origin countries of the region, on protection of workers, and labour mobility? How are efforts of states in the region to promote labour emigration while at the same time protecting the rights of migrant workers actually working? What are sound practices and how can states of origin and destination cooperate to more effectively regulate recruitment agencies? What is the role of social dialogue in developing labour migration policies at national and regional level?

Module 3: Assessing Labour Market Needs: This module will focus on assessing labour shortages, skills needs and measuring migration policy impacts. How are efforts to link the admission of migrant workers to the needs of the domestic labour market working? What have been the methods and data-sources to assess labour market requirements for foreign workers and generate shortage occupation lists? What are the current developments and modalities towards mutual recognition of skills in ASEAN?

Module 4: Mainstreaming Gender into Migration and Development Policies

This module will present new concepts on gender and migration.  This session will focus on the gender dimensions of migration and development, as overseas employment opportunities are often gender specific. What policy responses provide protection to migrants who are in vulnerable situations and occupations? The ILO has developed a regional tool to assist ASEAN Member States to develop gender-responsive migration management policies and programmes in sending and receiving countries in ASEAN. Participants will be provided with a basic training of the tool and an exercise to demonstrate its practical application

Module 5: Rights and protection of men and women migrant workers:

What are the rights stipulated in international migrant workers conventions and what rights do migrant workers have in practice? How can national laws and policies be made to conform to the “Cebu Declaration” adopted by ASEAN? How are countries in the region responding to irregular migration and illegal employment of migrants, both at home and abroad?

Module 6: Policy harmonisation and cooperation across countries:

ASEAN countries are seeking to harmonise aspects of their labour immigration and/or emigration policies. How can ASEAN Member States collaborate to collect, analysis and share harmonised labour migration data?  What steps can be taken to ensure social protection mechanisms extend to cover migrant workers and their families? How effective have MoUs in the region been in managing labour migration?