“The first thing we need to do is educate our people,”H.E. Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia,responded when asked at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2019 how ASEAN should prepare itself for the 4thIndustrial Revolution, or 4IR, His message was echoed by many of the speakers and panelists – among them several Heads of State and/or Government, CEOs and business leaders – who attended this year’s summit on November 2-3, 2019 on the theme “Empowering ASEAN 4.0”.
The ABIS 2019 aimed at preparing ASEAN members for the impact of technological innovations. In his opening remarks, Mr. Arin Jira, Chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC),noted: “The impact and the importance of the 4IR or the fourth industrial revolution, I believe, need no further elaboration as we’re all witnesses to its disruptive impact on the way we work, the manner in which we do our business and above all, the way we live. As I always say, either we get ready for it or we get crushed by it.”
He went on to stress that “closer coordination among ASEAN member states and the private sector will be the driving force in addressing issues caused by technological innovations”.
This was also the core message of Mr. Ingo Imhoff, Programme Director of the German government’s Regional Cooperation Programme for TVET in ASEAN (RECOTVET),implemented by GIZ, who joined the ABIS as one of the panelists on the topic of ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development. “ASEAN faces a major challenge of reskilling and upskilling its workers. The region is already experiencing skill shortages, which will further increase due to the mismatch between qualifications held by existing workers and the skill sets needed to succeed in 4IR. Tackling this challenge requires significant investments in skills-based training and cooperation of the private sector with governments and educational institutions“.
Mr. Imhoff went on to explain that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems can play a key role in supporting the adjustment to 4IR.
“Not all TVET systems and institutions in ASEAN are ready to deliver for the job market of the future”, he acknowledged, “But public TVET systems are an asset that the ASEAN business community should engage with – and improve”.
Mr. Imhoff concluded his presentation by giving examples of what companies can do to help strengthen the quality of TVET, such as providing opportunities for work-based learning or advising TVET institutions what to teach, and highlighting some of the work GIZ has done over the past year to support ASEAN-BAC in putting the importance of human empowerment and development squarely on the agenda of the ASEAN business community. This work included organising a joint symposium on the implications of Industry 4.0 for skills development strategies of business and industry, launching the ASEAN Skills Development Award as part of ASEAN-BAC’s prestigious annual ASEAN Business Award, and working with a group of business and industry champions to develop a Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET that outlines 45 specific recommendations to strengthen business and industry involvement in TVET.
RECOTVET will continue to work with both the public and private sectors to get ASEAN “4IR ready” by focusing on the importance of human resource development. Among other activities, RECOTVET together with the ASEAN Secretariat, is supporting the Government of Vietnam during its 2020 Chairmanship of ASEAN to develop an ASEAN Declaration that provides guidance and invigorates efforts to provide adequately trained human resources for the ASEAN region. The first regional high-level workshop to kick-off the development process of the ASEAN Declaration was co-hosted by RECOTVET in October in Ha Long, Viet Nam. The next workshop is scheduled to take place in January 2020.
About the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit:
The annual ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS), organised back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit, is the premier platform for interaction for the business communities within ASEAN and beyond. It is a unique platform that facilitates knowledge exchange among state leaders, business leaders, opinion leaders, and policy makers, enabling participants to collectively explore issues and new ideas and to prepare practical solutions. It comprises three main components, namely keynote addresses by Heads of State and/or Government, special addresses by global CEOs and business leaders, and panel discussions on various topics. In 2019, the key topics of the ABIS were (i) Advancing ASEAN 4.0 in the Global Value Chain; (ii) Sustainable ASEAN 4.0: Circular Economy; (iii) Next Generation MSME Access to Finance; (iv) ASEAN Digital Transformation and Connectivity; (v) ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development, and (vi) ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network for MSMEs.