Skills development policies implemented, says minister

James Kon

The BND450 million (3.2 per cent of GDP) economic relief and stimulus measure to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country is aimed to support the private sector, specifically micro, small and medium enterprises in the tourism, hospitality, restaurants, and transportation sectors.

The temporary measures include corporate income tax discounts, wage subsidies, deferment of social security contributions, discounts on utilities and rental rates of government buildings, and deferment of loan principal repayments. It is aimed to ensure job security for employees and in turn will build sustainable worker resilience not just after the pandemic but in preparation for a future rapid change in the world of work.

This was shared by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong at the 11th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting Plus Three (11th ALMM+3) yesterday.

Speaking at Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MoHA) building via video conferencing, the minister said, “This year is a challenging year for us all as the global economy including ASEAN, have been impacted. However, on a positive note, the pandemic has accelerated the need to develop strategies to strengthen the capacity and resilience of our workers, in the efforts to increase their competencies and quality.

“This is to ensure that our workforce is prepared for future challenges. The impact of the pandemic is inevitable, but our determination in ensuring our workforce capabilities meet the demand of future labour markets should not be hampered by it.”

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong

The Government of Brunei Darussalam, the minister said “has implemented ongoing strategies in skills development policies and programmes. This includes initiatives conducted by the Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) in Construction Industry, a committee under the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Development, regulators, educational institutions and enterprises in the construction sector”.

The committee launched the ARMECS Bridging Programme on October 1, which aims to improve the marketability and employability of the workforce to ensure that they can acquire relevant skills and competencies in the construction industry.

He also said that the Government of Brunei Darussalam, through the Lifelong Learning Centre, Ministry of Education, is planning, developing and implementing programmes through collaborations with providers and government agencies. The Lifelong Learning Centre’s main focus is to provide upskilling and reskilling programmes. They offered 135 programmes to the public.

The minister also cited, “The SkillsPlus is an initiative under the Learn and Grow Programme by the MPEC supported by the Lifelong Learning Centre which provides funding assistance to local jobseekers and local employees in the private sector including freelance workers to reskill and upskill by taking courses that are less than a year.

“Courses offered are in the area of Data Science, Information and Communication Technology, Art and Creative Technology and Halal Industry study. This is to prepare our workforce besides strengthening collaboration efforts with industry players.”

The minister added, “We need to realise and gather our efforts to promote active labour market policies and continue to provide continuous support in building the capacity and preparedness of ASEAN human resources. In line with the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work, we shall commit to equip ASEAN’s human resources with the competencies that will prepare them to be future-ready, thereby enabling them to contribute to the sustainable development, competitiveness and resilience of ASEAN.”

The minister also attended the 26th ASEAN Labour Ministerial Meeting. Permanent Secretary (Safety, Welfare and Law) at the MoHA Mohd Amir Hairil bin Haji Mahmud, Acting Commissioner of Labour Muhammad Saufi bin Haji Ibrahim, and senior officials from the MoHA and Department of Labour also attended the meeting.