On 24 June 2019, more than 100 delegates from all 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) at Lancaster Hotel, Bangkok. It is hoped these will inform future ASEAN work plans and strategies related to TVET.
TVET is an important element in the strategies of AMS to upgrade their workforce in line with the requirements of new technologies and new processes for production and service delivery. Moreover, its ability to prepare the labour force for decent jobs as well as upskill low-skilled workers is widely considered to be indispensable.
In his opening remarks to the 9th Regional Policy Dialogue on TVET, Dr. Aladdin D. Rillo, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Economic Community, highlighted the necessity for dynamic interplay between innovation and improvement so that TVET can live up to its potential to improve social and economic outcomes. He emphasised that new and stronger partnerships for TVET are needed across sectors and countries; most importantly, partnerships of mutual learning and exchange that combine the expertise and resources of business and industry, TVET institutions, and the public sector.
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 policy makers 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 9 chapters, the recommendations focus on such areas as: (i) enhancing the relevance and quality of TVET regulations and strategies, (ii) strengthening the leadership of business organisations in TVET, (iii) rebranding TVET, and (iv) deepening the collaboration of TVET schools with business and industry.
Among the areas prioritised as particularly important are: (i) setting up public-private national TVET councils to help drive future-oriented national TVET agendas, (ii) developing online skills information platforms, and (iii) allocating appropriate annual budgets to TVET.
At the 9th Regional Policy Dialogue, the regional working group called upon their fellow members in the ASEAN business community to lead the way in implementing the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET in the years to come and on AMS to initiate or continue a structured public-private dialogue with business and industry representatives both at the national and regional levels. They emphasised that what counts is the will to act – at the national and regional level as much as at the level of each TVET school or college.
The 9th Regional Policy Dialogue served as a forum to review the recommendations and identify promising approaches and alliances to make the Future ASEAN Agenda for TVET a reality. The Future Agenda will be presented to the relevant sectoral bodies of ASEAN for integration in their future strategies and work plans.
Since 2014, Regional Policy Dialogues on TVET supported by the Regional Cooperation Programme to Improve the Quality and Labour Market Orientation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (RECOTVET) on behalf of the German government have become an important forum for exchange on pressing topics of TVET reform for decision-makers from the ASEAN region. The 9th Regional Policy Dialogue was jointly organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and RECOTVET. It was attended by senior decision-makers from the private and public sector, including from the economic, education, industry, and labour ministries.
On 25 and 26 June, after the 9th Regional Policy Dialogue, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of the Philippines, with support from the ASEAN Secretariat and the RECOTVET programme, convened a workshop on “ASEAN TVET Agenda and Governance.” This workshop aims at considering ways by which cross-sectoral and cross-pillar regional cooperation for TVET system development may be undertaken with a view towards helping AMS meet the skills challenges of a changing world.