Govts urged to 're-skill' workers

Govts urged to 're-skill' workers

A vendor helps out a visitor at Asean Styles, a trade fair held on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit at Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre on Sunday. (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)
A vendor helps out a visitor at Asean Styles, a trade fair held on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit at Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre on Sunday. (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)

The Asean region is set to experience a skilled labour shortage in the future, due to the mismatch between the qualifications held by existing workers and the skill sets needed to achieve and succeed in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), a seminar was told.

The remarks were made by Ingo Imhoff, programme director of the Regional Cooperation Programme to Improve the Quality and Labour Market Orientation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (RECOTVET), at the Asean Business and Investment Summit 2019 on Sunday.

Mr Imhoff said preventing this shortage requires "significant investments in skills-based training", which could be more efficiently achieved if governments work together with the private sector and education providers.

He also said the 4IR era poses challenges to the workforce, existing legal frameworks, and mobility, while at the same time heralds the creation of new employment opportunities, which will attract new talent and necessitate a new way of working as the Asean bloc moves forward.

"In the face of this risk, Asean member countries need to 're-skill' their workforce, so their skills will match up to the demands of Industry 4.0," he said.

Surakiart Sathirathai, a former deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, agreed with Mr Imhoff, saying the public and private sectors need to jointly work out an implementable strategy to ensure Asean is ready to welcome and benefit from the 4IR.

"Access to digital and technological advances must be expanded, as well as economic inclusion and equal access to education," he said.

"We must bring both Generation Xs and Ys onboard, so they can share and enjoy [the benefits of] the fourth Industrial Revolution," he said.

On a related note, Vincent Truong, chairman and chief executive officer of Sunny World Investment & Development Corporation, said that while Vietnam is well-poised to benefit from 4IR due to its population size, the country is faced with the same problems as other Asean member states.

Vietnam's current population is over 94 million and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.3% to roughly 110 million by 2050.

"We need to re-skill our labour force and equip them with new skills which will be in demand as we enter the 4IR era," he said.

"Asean should work together to bring about the revolution."


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