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Navigating challenges towards Vision 2035

Brunei has seen meaningful progress in economic diversification and educational excellence

Brunei Darussalam has developed and embraced modernisation in the span of four decades through advancements in infrastructure provision and comprehensive development across all fields – quality and inclusive education, a comprehensive healthcare system, good regional and international relations, and most importantly, the visible and tangible success of efforts in economic diversification, guided by the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah shared this during his deliberation on 2024-2025 financial year at the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting recently.

“The progress achieved so far, although somewhat slow, is very meaningful to be used as a starting point for all of us to collectively double our efforts,” said the minister.

He further expounded on several initiatives and developments that have been undertaken within the financial sector, with a particular focus on human capacity building.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

EMPLOYMENT BOOST

Several employment opportunities for citizens and residents of the Sultanate have successfully been created under the focus of human capacity building, especially among youth, providing capacity-building training that aims to enhance skills and consequently contribute to the overall productivity of the nation.

“Various holistic and integrated approaches and actions have been and are being implemented together with relevant agencies,” the minister said.

This includes enhancing youth employability through education and skills training, supporting entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as generating new job opportunities in the private sector through strategic investments in downstream sectors and the food and agriculture industries.

PHOTO: BORNEO BULLETIN / BRUNEI PRESS STOCK 

PISA 2022 ACHIEVEMENT

In education, Brunei Darussalam excelled in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022, ranking among ASEAN’s top three. Scores notably improved in Mathematics (12), Reading (21), and Science (15) compared to 2018.

The minister said the success reflects educators’ diligent efforts in nurturing students to their maximum capabilities.

 

MPEC, MISC AND MANPOWER BLUEPRINT

To shape the future workforce, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew shared that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has granted approval for the contents of the Manpower Blueprint, spearheaded by the Ministry of Education and the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC).

“The Manpower Blueprint serves as a guideline towards achieving the goals of Brunei Vision 2035, particularly the first goal of producing educated, highly skilled and successful citizens,” said the minister.

The Manpower Blueprint dissemination in 2024 targets ministries, private sectors, and educational institutions. Addressing workforce mismatches, the Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) aligns local supply with job demand and tackles long-term unemployment through job creation and upskilling.

MISC conducts career programmes in various sectors and plans to launch initiatives such as the Solar Photovoltaic Electrical Technician course and specialised training for tourist guides in 2024. In the ICT sector, a TechInspire Program will train 50 locals as IT Technicians and Network Technicians.

The minister also announced the introduction of several programmes and initiatives by MPEC, including the Structure Apprenticeship Programme (SAP) for acquiring certificates, licences and registrations in specific career fields.

The Clinical Supervisory Programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, will offer on-the-job training for 30 Allied Health Professionals starting in 2024.

SPIN, currently in its fourth cohort, focuses on accountancy, with plans to expand into other fields based on industry demands. SkillPlus offers retraining and skill enhancement opportunities with updated programmes in 13 fields to meet industry needs.

For technical and vocational education, the TVET Scheme targets ‘O’ level graduates with three ‘O’ levels or below, enabling them to study in private higher education Institutions.

Two intakes have already accommodated 141 individuals, strengthening the workforce’s capacity and skills, particularly in technical and vocational fields.

 

MINIMUM WAGE MANDATE & RETIREMENT INCENTIVE

To uplift worker welfare, the Employment (Minimum Wage) Order 2023, enforced on July 12, 2023, sets a minimum wage of BND500 per month. Employers were given a six-month transition period. The policy will gradually extend to all industries, starting with banking, financial and ICT sectors.

Implemented in July 2023, the National Retirement Scheme (SPK) encourages continued productivity for better retirement income.

It benefits workers across sectors, including the informal and self-employed. Currently, 93 per cent (178,775 members) participate in SPK. SPK received the ‘2024 Best of the Best Awards’ for Most Improved Pension Fund in ASEAN by Asia Asset Management.

 

HEALTH WORKFORCE BOOST

To address nursing shortages, JPMC College of Health Sciences Sdn Bhd was launched in August 2023, a collaboration between Jerudong Park Medical Centre and the Far Eastern University.

A medical staff walks in front of an ambulance. PHOTO: KHAYR ZAKARIYYA

Currently, 137 students are undergoing basic science courses, while 70 are pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Nursing for the (2023/2024) academic year.

As Brunei advances towards Brunei Vision 2035 and beyond, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew highlighted the array of challenges ahead: rapid technological progress, increasing cyber risks, climate change and social shifts, among others.

Emphasising that these external factors unavoidably impact multiple sectors in a small, open nation like Brunei, the minister reiterated their ongoing significance.

“Despite these challenges, we should seize the opportunity and turn them into stepping stones for transformation, innovation, and progress.”

The minister believes in a proactive, united effort, and whole-of-nation collaboration to build a resilient nation that inspires future generations with dedication and commitment. – Rokiah Mahmud

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