This week’s international headlines: ‘gig’ workers seek support in Singapore, self-employment dreams in UAE and skills expansion in ASEAN

The top stories from People Management’s international websites

1. Impact of Saudi female drivers ban lift is questioned

A new report says the decision to lift the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia may not have any significant immediate impact. The ICAEW Economic Insight: Middle East report suggested that to meet the country’s target to raise female labour participation to 30 per cent by 2030, it would need to significantly narrow the gap in wage expectations between Saudi workers and expatriates.

2. Greater support proposed for gig economy workers in Singapore

The growing pool of ‘gig’ workers in Singapore has prompted calls for greater employment support packages. The government is concerned that the basic protections offered to employees by their employer in a regular workplace are not available to the self-employed, which could be detrimental to the broader economy.

3. Malaysia looks to boost level of female employment

Malaysia has launched a number of initiatives to encourage women to stay at work after having children, including increasing maternity leave from 60 to 90 days, and tax breaks for those who return to work after a break of two years or more. It is also keen to increase the number of females in leadership roles, and has set a target for women in government-linked organisations to make up at least 30 per cent of director-level roles by 2020.

4. Entrepreneurial spirit shines in UAE

The dream of being self-employed is held by an growing number of people in the UAE, according to the results of a new survey from and YouGov. It found that 78 per cent of employees were either thinking of becoming, or had already attempted to start up as, entrepreneurs. The most common reasons given for wanting to start their own business included the belief that it would give them a better work-life balance – and greater monetary gains.

5. Skills expansion needed in ASEAN for industry 4.0

The member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community need to expand the skillsets identified in their blueprint to ensure greater labour mobility during the fourth industrial revolution, according to a leading economist in the region. Anne Fink, of the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank, suggested strengthening relationships among professional bodies and creating partnerships with education institutions could help.