Colombo Process Working Groups Meet to Discuss Workplans on Thematic Areas of Skills and Qualifications Recognition, and Remittances

Bangkok—The Thematic Area Working Groups (TAWGs) of the Colombo Process (CP), a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia, convened this week in Bangkok (21-23 June) for the 7th TAWG meeting on ‘Skills and Qualifications Recognition Processes’, the 6th TAWG meeting on ‘Promoting Cheaper, Faster and Safer Transfer of Remittances’ and a capacity building workshop. The Colombo Process is a twelve-country regional consultative process supporting its members to manage labour migration in a safe, orderly, and dignified way for the benefit of individual migrants, their families and wider society, allowing collaboration, knowledge exchange and the development of new policies and practices for implementation at the national level.

The work of the TAWGs are supported by “Governance of Labour Migration in South and South East Asia” (GOALS) Programme, a joint UN programme implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women, with financial assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The activities of CP are organized around five TAWGs; Fostering Ethical Recruitment, Labour Market Analysis, Pre-Departure Orientation and Empowerment, Skills and Qualifications Recognition and Remittances. The 7th and 6th TAWG meetings on Skills and Qualifications Recognition Processes and Remittances saw more than 30 in-person attendees and over 20 virtual participants sharing national updates, best practices and lessons learned and coming together to develop workplans for the next implementation cycle from 2022 to 2026.

The overall output of the meetings aimed at optimizing the benefits of organized labour migration in Asia while protecting migrant rights and maximizing the development impact of overseas employment for migrant workers, their families, and countries of origin.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Benil Thavarasa, Regional Advisor for Migration and Development, SDC, said that “SDC recognizes ‘skills and qualifications recognition’ and the ‘safe transfer of remittances’ as the thematic areas requiring utmost attention given the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis on migrant workers and their families.” Furthermore, Ms. Maria Moita, Regional Director ad interim, IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, noted that “labour-sending countries should make use of the restoration of international mobility post-pandemic, allowing migrant workers to travel once more for employment in countries of destination both within and outside our region.”

The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL), the Chair of TAWG on Skills and Qualifications Recognition Processes meeting on day one, averred its commitments to increase the skill level of workers originating from Colombo Process Member States seeking employment outside their countries.

Ms. Yamuna Perera, Additional Secretary (Development), Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment, GSL, emphasized that “for migrants to benefit from migration, challenges in accessing quality training and decent jobs due to exploitation, under-utilization of skills and the lack of training, information and employment opportunities need to be addressed.” The TAWG on Promoting Cheaper, Faster and Safer Transfer of Remittances, chaired by the Government of Pakistan on day two included key dialogues that reaffirmed the group’s objective to improve access to formal remittance channels for migrant workers, enhance their access to financial services and empower the effective use of remittances for both migrant workers and their families.

Dr. Farrah Masooed, Managing Director of Overseas Employment Cooperation, Pakistan, underscored “the importance of everyone’s participation in this very important task related to migrant workers, given its pivotal role for both the country of origin and the counties of destination.”

Day three concluded the CP meetings with a capacity building workshop that focused on selected labour migration and governance issues to CPMS representatives. The workshop was an opportune moment for knowledge sharing and reflection and created significant linkages and space for communication between all parties to the meetings.

The participants consisted of the CP member states, several non-state actors, including the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council (SARTUC), Migrant Forum in Asia and the South Asia Centre for Labour Mobility and Migrants (SALAM), and the International Institute for Population Sciences; and the United Nations (UN) organizations implementing the GOALS programme; IOM, ILO and UN Women.

 

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