Skilled workforce in ASEAN region: Issues, challenges, and way forward
Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing regions in the world. With a total of 646 million people and a wealth of natural resources, the region has an expanding middle class as well as a young, dynamic and increasingly well-educated population. Nevertheless, within the region, many workers are still engaged in informal employment, frequently for long hours, without reliable income and social protection coverage.
1 The region, especially the ASEAN-5 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines), lacks industry-ready skilled workers, despite its vibrant demography. Brunei has difficulties in equipping its labour force with the necessary research and development skills, while CLMV (Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam) economies broadly lack coherent technical education, necessary for industrial development.
2 ASEAN’s renewed commitment in enhancing the quality of its human resources, recently expressed in the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for The Changing World of Work, highlights the importance of skill development through various modes (formal, non-formal, and informal learning) as an integral part of lifelong learning.
This paper provides background regarding the current state of the workforce in ASEAN, including issues and challenges as well as the regional and national initiatives implemented in response. The paper also offers recommendations, especially related to human resources development through TVET, as means of addressing the existing employment issues.