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Business
ADB: Skills gap in Asia-Pacific hindering growth

Asia and the Pacific countries including the Philippines must solve skills gaps and scale up technical training to create innovative economies that would consolidate their positions in the global economy, according to a new book by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The book Skills Development for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia said that as countries in the region recalibrate their growth models to strengthen their positions in the global economy, the availability of a highly skilled and technically qualified human resource base will be a crucial determinant of success.

It looks at the issues, challenges and potential measures countries could take to develop the skills needed to promote employment, sustain growth and improve global competitiveness.

“In their quest to gain market shares in higher-order manufacturing and services, governments and other stakeholders are paying close attention to developing the requisite technical and scientific capabilities,” the ADB publication noted.

The book stated that challenges faced by Asian countries are diverse as their economic development and one of the skills challenges is building up of a system for training, or creating a training market. It said that many countries have an outdated system and lack sufficient facilities and equipment, or qualified instructors.

Another challenge is reducing skills mismatches and increasing the links between training and industry needs. The ADB publication said that as the industry skill demand is quickly upgrading, growing economies are faced with a widening gap between skill supply and demand.

Upgrading quality of skills training systems and improving outcomes are also among the problems. The book said that there is a need to assure the quality of skills training to create vocational pathways for high school leavers.

“In countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Philippines and Vietnam, despite the high unemployment rate among college graduates, vocational training is not considered as a viable alternative and high school graduates value academic studies and target white collar jobs unrelated to industry demands,” it added.

Lastly, the book said that increasing industry participation and ownership is also one of the challenges. It said that one of the major weaknesses in developing Asian countries’ skills development system is the lack of industry participation and ownership.

“The vast majority of firms are SMEs [small- and medium-scale enterprises], and they hesitate to invest in workers’ skills as they lack resources and duration of expected employment relationship is short,” the ADB publication said.

“These challenges are interrelated and cannot be addressed in isolation. In practice, this creates the challenge of integrating skills strategies, which requires a dedicated dialogue among different ministries and departments for policy cohesion and coordination,” it added.

Solutions
To solve these challenges, the book said that several ways for building up the training system are being pursued, such as creating additional training academies, imposing skill levies and using apprenticeship models.

Another model is “train the trainers,” in which the public sector can train and supply instructors for new skills as a public good.

Also, the ADB publication said that giving subsidies to a leading technology company to train not only their own workers but also workers from other SMEs, or the unemployed can also help.

“For example, the Philippines seeks to strengthen industry education and training linkages with an enterprise-based training system,” it noted.

Meanwhile, to improve the status of vocational training and attract youth to where there is demand, the book stated that high quality and competency-based training is needed.

“A National Qualification System [NQS] needs to be constructed. Quality assurance and industry ownership in training is often absent in developing countries and administrative problems, or conflicts between authorities exist,” it added.

Furthermore, the ADB publication noted that greener economies could generate up to 60 million additional jobs over the next two decades and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty.

Green jobs require a mix of new technical skills related to renewable energy, climate change adaptation, trade, recycling and use and engineering, which are not yet addressed adequately by training institutions.

ADB said that it has ongoing programs in support of technical and vocational education and training in 12 countries, amounting to a total of about $500 million.

 

Refer http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top-business-news/37252-adb-skills-gap-in-asia-pacific-hindering-growth

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