Building future-ready human capital

Danial Norjidi

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) labour and education ministers recently launched the Roadmap of ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work at a conference in Vietnam.

The roadmap, said a statement, serves to transform the declaration adopted during the 36th ASEAN Summit in June into concrete strategies and actions.

The roadmap launched on September 16 is expected to guide ASEAN sectoral bodies and relevant stakeholders in building resilient, adaptable and future-ready human resources in the next decade. ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi said, “The adoption and launch of the roadmap is quite timely as its identified outcomes and strategies provide guidance on how ASEAN can shape the direction of its human resource policies in preparing the workforce to be resilient and future-ready.”

The roadmap serves as a response to the changing world of work in the midst of technological advances, demographic transition and greening economies.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and employment have also been addressed through incorporating IT in learning and promoting the development of IT infrastructure and innovation.

The ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council has also been launched to support the advancement of TVET in the region.

The multi-sectoral body comprises ASEAN member state officials and is chaired by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority of the Philippines for the next two years.

Its members include representatives from the ASEAN Future Workforce Council, the ASEAN Confederation of Employers, the ASEAN Trade Union Council, and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat.

A number of objectives will be pursued by the Council “to develop evidence-based policy recommendations that will improve TVET systems, including quality assurance, standards development, research and development on innovations and skills development that are aligned with disruptive technologies”.

It also aims at “strengthening coordination and cooperation with businesses and industries to improve TVET quality and responsiveness to labour market demands, to promote greater mobility of labour, strategic alliances and resource sharing arrangements within and across industry sectors”.

To the Council, it is important to “support programmes that narrow the gaps between vocational skills’ supply and demand across ASEAN, systematic collection and sharing of labour migration information (LMI), improvement of labour market information systems (LMIS) and the utilisation of LMIS for TVET development” and “the advancement of access to TVET for all”.

Other objectives of the Council are to “support the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM), ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) in identifying, promoting, monitoring and evaluating TVET and human resources, including ASEAN workforce development-related programmes” and to “identify a holistic and collective response on emerging issues and challenges affecting employment and future of work through multi-stakeholder consultations”.

The Council will serve as a cross-pillar coordination mechanism on TVET – to provide policy recommendations pertaining to the quality of TVET and its relevance to current and future industry requirements; to facilitate mutual learning and innovations through sharing of good practices on TVET-related programmes; to develop a comprehensive, integrated and inclusive regional plan on TVET; and to support regional knowledge management on TVET through the conduct of region-wide researches, studies and publications as well as the provision of regional knowledge sharing platforms, such as forums, conferences and workshops, in the context of priority issues.