Decent jobs transform lives

Decent jobs provide social protection, offer stability of work and adequate earnings. They transform lives by increasing access to basic opportunities and the welfare of entire households. 

By increasing access to social protection schemes, decent jobs increase social insurance contributions and tax revenues and reduce the pressure on public expenditure. Decent jobs help expand pension coverage and access to health care, improving the health of other family members. By providing greater income security, decent employment supports higher productivity and contributes to inclusive growth. Increasing productivity is key, because productivity levels have fallen below global average in Asia and the Pacific, particularly in countries with large informal sectors where vulnerable employment is prevalent.


Note: ILO modeled estimates for 48 countries in Asia and the Pacific in 2020 are presented by ESCAP subregions. Labour productivity is measured by output per hour worked where output is GDP in constant 2017 international dollars at purchasing power parity.


To boost access to decent jobs and expand the formal sector, workers need support to sharpen their skillset and adapt to ongoing and emerging megatrends. Without adequate support, the green transition impelled by climate change could leave a significant portion of the workers in precarity, particularly in the agricultural sector where two thirds of workers only have a basic level of education or no education at all. Government intervention is needed urgently to upskill these workers and improve their resilience. 

Sectors expected to be disrupted during the green transition employ the majority of workers in Asia-Pacific

Share of total employment by sector

Source: ILO (2022). Accessed online on 22.04.2022 at
Note: ILO modelled estimates in 2019 from 45 countries for employment by economic activity (thousands) at annual frequency.

The digital transition and rapid population ageing are set to transform labour markets. To tap the opportunities and overcome the challenges flowing out of this disruptive change, improving access to and levels of information and communications technology (ICT) are essential. 

Even in countries with relatively higher levels of ICT literacy, up to 40 per cent of the population lack basic ICT skills. If we don’t close this skill gap, inequalities in labour income will further widen. At the same time, the region’s rapid population ageing will push retirement ages forward, making a healthy and skilled older population critical. Yet the lack of social protection and major gaps in old-age pension coverage mean that older persons have had little choice but to accept informal employment in recent years.

The majority of people is lacking basic and standard ICT skills

Share of population by different levels of ICT skills, per cent, 2021

Source: International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (2021). Measuring digital development: Facts and Figures 2021. ITU, Geneva.

Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs) are central to reskilling the workforce and increasing access to decent jobs. Public and private employment services, training and higher education institutions, central and local governments, as well as civil society organizations, all have a role to play in these policies.

But the type of ALMP deployed must take local circumstances into account. They can include skills training programmes, public works programmes, wage subsidies or job assistance services, with priority given to specific groups such as women, young people and people with a lower education. Anticipating future labour market demands to shape training programmes, educational systems and curricula will be key.