TVET needs new, stronger partnerships

|     Rokiah Mahmud     |

MORE than 100 delegates from ASEAN member states (AMS) attended the 9th Regional Policy Dialogue to discuss the recommendations crafted by a working group of representatives from business and industry aimed at improving the quality, image, and outcomes of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), hoped to inform future ASEAN work plans and strategies related to TVET.

In opening remarks at the Dialogue, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, Dr Aladdin D Rillo, highlighted the need for dynamic interplay between innovation and improvement so that TVET can live up to its potential to improve social and economic outcomes.

He also emphasised that new and stronger partnerships for TVET are needed across sectors and countries, in addition to partnerships of mutual learning and exchange across sectors, TVET institutions, businesses and countries.

Recognising the urgency for change, the ASEAN Secretariat with the support from the German government’s Regional Cooperation Programme for TVET in ASEAN (RECOTVET) has initiated a regional learning process among AMS. The objective is to identify challenges and solutions to strengthening business and industry cooperation in TVET.

As a concrete step, a regional working group comprising TVET champions from business and industry was launched on June 22, 2018. The Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for the Socio-Cultural Community chaired the lead-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.

Legislative Council member and ASEAN BAC Brunei representative Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman and (PUJA) Brunei representative Bahrin Mohammad

The regional working group’s work was subsequently also endorsed by the Senior Officials Meeting on Education during their 13th session in November 2018.

Starting in June 2018, a regional working group of 20 representatives from chambers of commerce, business associations, and a range of enterprises from all AMS-identified recommendations for policymakers and entrepreneurs aimed at ensuring TVET’s fitness for the future.

The 45 recommendations are summarised in a document entitled the ‘Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET’. Grouped into nine chapters, the recommendations focus on areas such as enhancing the relevance and quality of TVET regulations and strategies, strengthening the leadership of business organisations in TVET, rebranding TVET, and deepening the collaboration of TVET schools with business and industry.

The 9th Regional Policy Dialogue concludes with the formation of ASEAN Future Workforce Council (AFWC), in partnership with ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) under the Joint Business Council. AFWC serves as the platform for proactive engagement with the relevant sectoral bodies of ASEAN, in particular, the Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) and the Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM), to consider and integrate relevant elements of the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET in their future strategies and post-2020 work programmes.

From the business sector, ASEAN BAC Chair Arin Jira supported promoting and sustaining TVET across ASEAN, adding that it is very much aligned with the 2019 ASEAN BAC theme of ‘Empowering ASEAN 4.0’ and Thailand Legacy Project entitled ‘AHEAD’ ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development.

He also stressed the need to translate the TVET recommendations into concrete and actionable milestones for ASEAN to consider.

He proposed bringing together the ASEAN Future Workforce Council and its partner champions to work with ASEAN BAC and its Joint Business Councils to push the TVET policy agenda to ASEAN leaders and concerned ministers, and optimise private sector support.

Among the recommendations identified as a quick win to be pursued by AFWC both at national and regional levels would be setting up of the National TVET Councils co-chaired by senior public and private sector representatives to drive coherent, future-oriented national TVET agendas; strengthen business and industry cooperation in TVET planning through structured public-private dialogue; formation of skill councils to monitor and initiate the updating of skill standards when changes in industry practices necessitate revisions; launch TVET awareness campaigns to improve the public reputation of TVET; provision of career counselling and a TVET-oriented curriculum at high school level to inspire and motivate students from a young age to pursue TVET; identify and distribute best practices of business and industry cooperation in TVET; encourage professionals and specialists from the industry to become part-time TVET teachers.

The founding members of ASEAN Future Workforce Council comprise 20 representatives from the business and industries of the AMS. Dato J Palaniappan from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers will chair the ASEAN Future Workforce Council and Dr Ar Yanty Rahman from the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Brunei will champion the initiative under ABAC.

ASEAN Future Workforce Brunei are represented by Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman from ASEAN BAC Brunei and Bahrin Mohammad from Institution of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) Brunei.