Global projections show that from 2020 to 2030 workforce contraction will accelerate in many developed economies because of population ageing. Some economies will experience significant workforce shortfalls which may reduce growth projections. According to a major survey of employers in 2016, this scenario is beginning to emerge. About “40 per cent of employers globally are having difficulty filling positions”. Three of the top five economies globally which reported difficulty filling vacancies in 2016 are APEC members. Conversely, high levels of unemployment remain a challenge for a number of developing economies with large working-age populations.
Regions across the world are taking a long term view to increase their global competitiveness and offset the economic and social impact of impending labour force shortfalls which could result in trillions of dollars in lost global GDP. Labour mobility in the APEC region is providing new possibilities, but is at the same time challenged by structural barriers and the absence of a regional strategy. In 2014, APEC Leaders acknowledged that “much work needs to be done to ease existing barriers to interaction and mobility…” and agreed that labour mobility is a valuable part of the APEC connectivity agenda. Recently, they adopted the 2015 APEC Strategy for Strengthening Growth, which highlights the importance of institution building to economic growth, including “a labor market that allows re-allocation of labor in response to market demand but at the same time protects the welfare of workers.”
In view of these challenges and the need to strengthen the APEC region’s capacity to remain globally competitive, Australia has taken an initiative through the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG) to draft an APEC Labour Mobility Framework (see Attachment). This Framework would be developed as a nonbinding regional strategy on labour mobility which recognizes the rights of all APEC member economies to develop policies suitable to their domestic circumstances.
In August 2016, APEC Senior Officials noted the proposal developed by Australia to coordinate a cross-fora project led by the HRDWG to advance the development of a regional labour mobility framework. It is in this context that the workshop is proposed to reach out to a broad APEC constituency for a coordinated approach to the development of the Framework. The workshop will convene representatives across APEC fora and global experts to take a closer look at the draft APEC Labour Mobility Framework, including its scope, opportunities and challenges. It is intended to generate broad input to the development of the Framework from a range of APEC working groups and committees. The workshop also offers opportunities for multilateral collaboration and sharing of learnings and good practices from other regions, as sought by the APEC Human Resources Development Ministerial Action Plan (2015-2018).
When fully developed, the Framework will support APEC member economies in achieving efficient and effective labour mobility through a shared vision of the opportunities and complexities associated with the global movement of workers, including among the increasing number of women involved, who may have special protection issues. It will contribute to cross-fora efforts to advance the broad APEC agenda on regional economic integration, connectivity, free trade, financial inclusion, labour market efficiency, mobility of business people and students, the integration of women in the economy and the development of SMEs. There is also an opportunity for the proposed Framework to contribute to the implementation of the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap (2016-2025). When adopting the Roadmap on 19-20 November 2016, APEC Leaders identified a broad range of APEC-wide actions, including supporting cross-border mobility, to improve the competitiveness of the services sector.
Objective: The key objective of the workshop is to provide a platform for APEC government officials, global experts and business to discuss broader labour mobility issues and explore options for a regional framework on mobility. The discussion will be framed around the draft APEC Labour Mobility Framework to identify gaps and opportunities for improving the potential and scope of the document.
Format: Participation in the two-day workshop will be open to APEC government officials and invited delegates through a formal registration process. The workshop is aimed at discussing the draft Framework, but will be supported by presentations of broad themes and issues, including the global feminization of labour mobility. It will also draw upon multilateral efforts to achieve efficient and effective labour mobility in other regions.
· Summary of discussions and key recommendations which will inform
further work on the draft framework.
· Establishment of a cross-fora virtual project advisory team which will work with the project coordinator to refine the draft framework.
Date and Venue: A two-day workshop on the margins of SOM1 and related meetings (February/March 2017) in Viet Nam. The host city will be confirmed shortly.
 Talent Shortage Survey 2016, ManpowerGroup, October 2016. [See also Talent Shortage Survey 2015 with comprehensive analysis]