Non-Aligned Movement has welcomed the efforts of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) towards increasing people mobility. NAM believes that such initiatives will contribute to the promotion of economic growth, narrowing the development gaps and enhancing the competitiveness of the ASEAN. Such efforts also play a prominent role in promoting deeper social and cultural understanding by connecting the ASEAN Member States within the region and the rest of the world. An important aspect in this context is the development of human resources. One of the key purposes of ASEAN, as stipulated in the ASEAN Charter, is to develop human resources through closer cooperation in education and lifelong learning, and in science, technology and innovation, for the empowerment of the peoples of ASEAN and for the strengthening of the ASEAN Community.

On September 16, 2020, the ASEAN Member States’ Labour and Education Ministers launched the Roadmap of ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work at a high-level conference held by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020. The Roadmap translates the Declaration, which was adopted by the 36th ASEAN Summit in June 2020, into concrete strategies and actions. It is expected to guide ASEAN sectoral bodies on labour, education, and relevant stakeholders in their cooperation and coordination for the next decade to build resilient, adaptable and future-ready human resources.

The Roadmap calls on the ASEAN Member States to cultivate lifelong learning culture in societies and raise awareness of youth, workers and employers on the importance of investing in skills development to adapt to the changing world of work, including education and training and improve the inclusivity of education and employment for all especially with respect to improving access to and quality of skills training and job opportunities for all especially women, people with disabilities, elderly, those in rural or remote areas and those employed in small and medium enterprises.

Further, the Roadmap calls for the formulation of articulated national policy framework and/or action plan on human resource development, towards improved policy coherence in areas of education, training, and the labour market, and industrial development. The Declaration also resolves to enhance the responsiveness and cohesiveness of labour, educational, economic policies and institutional frameworks in promoting the following aspects towards better employment opportunities, employability, higher income, job security, quality of jobs and enterprise competitiveness. A major component of the Roadmap is to promote policies and initiatives for lifelong learning which encompasses key stages of education and training (i.e. basic education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), higher education) and skills development in organisations that will meet current and future skills needs and allow occupational mobility and career development.

In accordance with this, the ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council has also been simultaneously launched. The Council is a multi-sectoral body for coordination, research and development on innovation and monitoring of regional programmes that support TVET advancement in the region. Comprised of 39 member officials, the Council is chaired by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority of the Philippines for the period 2020-2022. Its members include representatives of ASEAN Future Workforce Council, ASEAN Confederation of Employers, ASEAN Trade Union Council, and Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat.

The Roadmap also calls to strengthen/establish inter-agency bodies on human resource development across the areas of education, training, industrial development, and labour governance, towards improving policy coherence given the cross-cutting nature of human resource development.
Highlighting the significance of the roadmap, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi aptly remarked that, “the adoption and launching of the Roadmap today is quite timely as its identified outcomes and strategies provide guidance on how ASEAN can shape the direction of human resource policies that will prepare our workforce to be resilient and future ready.”

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