The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to unprecedented employment losses, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups such as youth, women, migrant, and informal workers. Pandemic responses in many developing Asian economies have included massive cash transfer programs to stabilize household incomes and stimulate demand for goods and services. These programs are temporary crisis measures, however, while employment losses may be lengthy and possibly permanent. Further, while income support can help low-skilled workers maintain a basic living standard, it cannot provide them with the skills needed to move to better quality work.
Active labor market programs focused on upskilling, reskilling, and on-the-job training could enhance the income generating potential of the unemployed or underemployed and accelerate pandemic recovery. Yet, these programs are vastly underutilized in the region, supporting an average of 0.1% of aggregate GDP. In addition, it is often difficult for the poor to join skill-building programs due to work and family obligations.
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department invite submissions of original, unpublished policy papers on inclusive labor programs and decent work that could support pandemic recovery in developing Asia. Selected policy papers will be presented during a virtual conference to take place on 27–28 October 2021 and considered for publication as ADBI policy briefs and inclusion in a special journal issue or book.
Paper topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Active labor market programs in Asia
- Fiscal challenges to supporting workers during the pandemic recovery
- Income support versus skills-building programs
- Impact assessments of active labor market programs
- Challenges in implementing upskilling programs for the working poor
- Innovations in upskilling programs, including public–private partnerships
- Jobs, poverty, and inequality before and after the COVID-19 outbreak
- Global perspectives on effective active labor market programs
Authors should submit a 250–300 word abstract in English via this link by 25 June 2021. Please include a brief accompanying bullet point description (no more than one page) of the paper methodology and evidence, as well as the title and name, affiliation, position, and email of each author. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by 16 July 2021.