Newly unveiled Human Resource Development Roadmap displays the vision of ASEAN leaders toward a dynamic labour market

By Mr. Akkani Alexander Warning, AUN Intern and Mr. Chawanvit Panprasert, Programme Officer
27 September 2020

On 15-16 September 2020, Viet Nam, the current chair of ASEAN, hosted the ASEAN High- Level Conference on Human Resources Development (HRD) in a Changing World. This virtual conference provides a space for delegates of ASEAN countries, Intergovernmental organizations as well as transnational organizations to share their experiences in working in the HRD area in the ASEAN region. One of the most important agendas this year was to launch the “Roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work”, which covers the HRD work plans of many ASEAN sectoral bodies.

The first day of the conference consisted of the partnership sessions. The panelists shared their practices and challenges working in HRD during the COVID-19 pandemic while also emphasizing their strategies in counteracting those challenges. One main challenge for HRD in ASEAN that was tackled during the conference was the change of the labour market, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic being a true game-changer for ASEAN economies, there was and still is quite some room for improvement that can best be solved through strong collaboration between ASEAN countries. Moreover, as identified by many delegates at the conference, the COVID-19 pandemic is a warning shot for ASEAN economies to re-address pre-existing problems such as demographic changes, challenges of new technologies, natural disasters and climate change. Another key message agreed upon by the panelists is the transformation of the labour market which is associated with the rising demand of workers with proper schooling. Therefore, the most efficient approach is to focus on the education of workers by promoting educational platforms such as lifelong learning; reskilling and up-skilling, especially digital knowledge; and the instruction of educators.

The highlight of this conference was on the second day: the launching of “Roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work”. The launching of the Roadmap is a sign of stronger cohesion and cooperation between ASEAN member states and affiliated organizations. Through its strategies and actions, the roadmap covers the HRD work plans of ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM), ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting (ASED), ASEAN TVET Council (ATC) and other ASEAN sectoral bodies.

The conference is another milestone in ASEAN collaboration in HRD, especially in the future of work. It not only promotes partnerships among HRD related organizations but also provides a clearer and common vision on the next page in the story of the ASEAN labour market which is a highly significant step towards more integrated operations in this area. While the future is unpredictable, quality education will prepare ASEAN citizens for any uncertainties that may arise. Therefore, education institutions play important roles in the resilience of ASEAN community as mentioned by AUN Executive Director during the conference:

“Universities are intermediaries between the world of work and the students. In support of the ASEAN community building, the universities need to deal with both sides effectively. They need to know the needs of the community, of the poor, of the industries and of the economy. On the other side, universities need to listen, learn and analyze well what students are doing and thinking right now as they keep changing and evolving all the time.”

-Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, Executive Director, ASEAN University Network on the role of HEIs in ASEAN Community Building