ASEAN Future Workforce Council
The ASEAN Future Workforce Council (AFWC) was formed in June 2019 as a catalyst to advance business and industry cooperation in TVET in ASEAN. The AFWC’s vision is that future skills development in the ASEAN region is business and industry driven. As a body led by business and industry, the AFWC advances ASEAN-wide action on future skills development, in particular the recommendations entailed in the “Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET” report.
The history of the AFWC dates back to 2018, when the ASEAN Secretariat with support from the German government’s Regional Cooperation Programme for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in ASEAN (RECOTVET) initiated a regional learning process among ASEAN member states (AMS) with the objective is to identify challenges and solutions to strengthening business and industry cooperation in TVET.
For ASEAN – one of the largest economic communities in the world with rapid and stable growth since 2000 – the lack of adequately skilled workers is a crucial bottleneck for sustained growth, especially under the pressure of technological disruption. TVET is recognized as an important element in strategies to close prevailing skills gaps, yet in practice the school based TVET systems of AMS rarely meet expectations and TVET graduates fail to live up to the demands of business and industry. Engaging business and industry representatives in the planning and delivery of TVET has been widely recognized by AMS as the way forward, but cooperation between business and industry and the education sector remains scarce to this day.
Recognizing the need to move ‘from potential to realization’, the ASEAN Secretariat with support from RECOTVET launched a regional working group of TVET champions from business and industry at the 7th Regional Policy Dialogue on TVET, which took place in June 2018 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for the Socio-Cultural Community chaired the kick-off meeting and mandated the group with the development of a Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET that outlines action-oriented policy recommendations for labour-market oriented TVET reforms in the region. The work of the regional working group was subsequently also endorsed by the Senior Officials Meeting on Education during their 13th session in November 2018.
20 representatives from chambers, associations and companies from all ten AMS were selected as members. It was the first time that a regional working group on TVET was composed only of business and industry representatives. Over the course of 5 workshops between June 2018 and March 2019 the group discussed how to make TVET in the ASEAN region fit for the future. The final product of the group is the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET, a document that outlines specific, action-oriented recommendations for strengthening the contributions of business and industry in TVET.
After the working group ended, the members of the group committed themselves to establish the AFWC (which is also one of the top priority recommendations mentioned in the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET) with the objective to see the recommendations entailed in the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET implemented in ASEAN.
After the AFWC’s launch at the 9th Regional Policy Dialogue on TVET in June 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand, the AFWC was officially recognized as a Joint Business Council by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) in September 2019. ASEAN-BAC is the apex private sector body of ASEAN, which was established by the ASEAN Heads of State and Government in 2001 with the mandate to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration.