Hanoi (VNA) – Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung underscored the role of social workers in the fight against formidable challenges like COVID-19 during the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting virtually held by Saudi Arabia on September 10.

The event drew the participation of G20 member countries and international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank (WB).

Dung was invited to join the meeting as Vietnam is playing the role of the ASEAN Chair this year.

Vietnam, as ASEAN Chair in 2020, has cooperated with other member states in mitigate impacts of the pandemic on labour and employment, Dung said in his remarks at the event.

He noted the bloc is developing the ASEAN declaration on promoting social work, which aims to strengthen social workers’ role in responding to challenges like the coronavirus outbreak in order to promote a society of care and sharing.

He went on by highlighting the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work adopted at the 36th ASEAN Summit, saying it focuses on the enormous impacts of technology changes, population aging, climate change and diseases on employment and jobs, and outlines sufficient activities to ensure that ASEAN workers are well prepared in the “changing world of work”.

The Vietnamese Government has passed a financial support package worth 62 trillion VND (2.7 billion USD) for workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19, he said. The number of pandemic-hit people to benefit from the programme is estimated at about 20 million divided into seven groups.

Vietnam highly regards social workers’ role in COVID-19 response: Minister hinh anh 1Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung at the meeting. (Photo: VNA)

“Depending on the developments and impacts of the COVID-19, the Vietnamese government can introduce more relief packages to help enterprises weather hardships, recover and develop; and at the same time, socially aid people in difficult situation and support skill training and retraining for workers,” the minister said. With drastic measures taken by the government and self-efforts by the enterprises and employees, Vietnam’s economy is forecast to gain positive growth this year, he added.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of unprecedented turmoil in global labour markets, with a decline in working hours equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs worldwide in the second quarter of 2020. Over 1.6 billion jobs in the informal economy, and youth, women and persons with disabilities have been among the worst hit.

The labour ministers reaffirmed their determination to use social dialogue and to work with other ministers to ensure policy coherence in constructing effective, inclusive and sustainable response measures, in a Declaration issued at the end of the meeting.

They urges stronger cooperation in implementing the G20’s 2020 priorities, such as adapting social protection to reflect the changing patterns of work; better preparing youth for the transitions to work; achieving gender equality in the world of work; exploring behavioural insights application for robust labour market policies; and continued improvement of social protectoin systems to protect and support vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, women and youth.

The Ministerial Declaration “Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All” focused in particular on issues facing youth and women, on whom the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact. It commits the G20 to strengthening support for young people – particularly young women – in making labour market transitions and finding quality employment, and to redouble their efforts to achieve the Antalya Youth Goal, through which G20 members commit to reducing the share of young people who are most at risk of being permanently left behind in the labour market by 15 percent by 2025.

The Declaration also highlights the “vital role” of social protection, saying that “the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for strong social protection systems to support all workers and their families”. It commits the G20 will be “adapting and improving our social protection systems to provide access to adequate social protection for all”, including women, youth, the self-employed, platform and own-account workers, and those in informal employment./.