Singapore, 30 October 2018 – ASEAN representatives discussed ways to leverage technology in managing migrant labour at the 11th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML), held on 29-30 October in Singapore.

Hosted by the Ministry of Manpower of Singapore, the forum was attended by around 90 delegates from governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, as well as civil society groups in ASEAN. The forum’s theme “Digitalisation to Promote Decent Work for Migrant Workers in ASEAN” resonates the theme “Resilient and Innovative” of Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship. Both themes envision ASEAN as a forward looking region that continues to harness opportunities and embrace digital technologies to advance well-being of people including in aspect of labour migration.

Participants also shared best practices on strengthening labour migration management and promoting migrant workers’ access to digital support services. Some of these are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s e-Services; Indonesia’s JENDELA TKI Application; Thailand’s Smart Domestic Workers Application of HOMENET; Malaysia’s Be My Protection Application; and Singapore’s POSB Payroll Account.

The forum acknowledged the usefulness of digital platforms and devices for all stakeholders throughout the whole migration cycle.

 Digital transformation has brought many positive changes into lives and societies around the world including in ASEAN region. Around 44% of ASEAN population are internet users and the number is growing, including among migrant workers and prospective migrant workers.

The participants saw great potentials of digital technologies in regulating occupational safety and health, facilitating recruitment and job placement, providing variety of services to migrant workers, and reaching out to migrant workers. Increasingly, migrant workers also use internet, applications and other digital devices to access information and services, send remittance, keep themselves informed on choices of recruitment agencies, and stay connected with their peers and families at home.

While recognising many benefits and opportunities of digitalisation, participants emphasised that the development and use of digital platforms and tools need to take into account existing digital divide, varying digital literacy and language skills, and limitation in access to digital infrastructure and devices among migrant workers. Participants also agreed that digital services must be accompanied by on-the-ground assistances and that not all services should be digitalised. Protection of personal data and privacy of migrant workers should also be ensured.

Furthermore, the forum discussed and adopted the recommendations to guide ASEAN Member States in using digital technologies to promote decent work of intra-ASEAN migrant workers. Implementation of recommendations from the previous forums was also reviewed.

Held annually since 2008 with the support of the ASEAN Secretariat, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration , UN Women and Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers, the forum contributes to the implementation of ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. The 12th AFML will be held in 2019 in Thailand.