Closing the skills gap within ASEAN member states is essential for sustainable economic growth and inclusion, according to leaders from government, business and academia who gathered today at the “Workforce Readiness in ASEAN Member States: Implications of an ASEAN Economic Community” symposium in Singapore.
The event was sponsored by J.P. Morgan and organized by Asia Society. The forum detailed on some of the most critical challenges in the workforce affecting ASEAN member states today, with a particular focus on the ASEAN-5 nations of Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
A sizeable skills gap, despite significant numbers of students graduating each year, was one issue identified as having the potential to impact growth and development of the region into the future.
Nicolás Aguzin, Chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan, Asia Pacific, said: “Rapid economic and technological progress coupled with lagging education systems and shifting demographics have led to significant discrepancies between the supply of labour and the needs of the market across ASEAN states. Tackling an issue as complex as this requires close collaboration between government, academia and the private sector to find the right solutions. It also requires partnership and global expertise to identify new ideas – which is what we aimed to facilitate here today in Singapore in partnership with Asia Society. ”
Ronnie C. Chan, Co-Chair of Asia Society said: “ASEAN is at a crucial stage in its development and closing the skills gap is fundamental to the future of the region. There is now a need to further strengthen ASEAN’s human capital by building the right skills in the workforce with the aim to sustain the region’s economic growth in the medium to the long term.”
The symposium was designed to address the challenges that exist and provide a platform for business, government and academic leaders to share their thoughts and learn from one another.
Other thought leaders were also present to engage in panel discussions that offered a macro overview of skills gap issues in the ASEAN-5 and solutions to bridging the gap and fulfilling needs within the workforce.
Curtis S. Chin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank said: “More than oil and gas, and more than forests or fisheries, there is no more important resource in ASEAN than its people. And like any resource, ASEAN human resources will require wise stewardship as the competition for talent grows bigger.”
This was the fourth event held in the ‘One Step Ahead’ symposium series, which has gathered thought leaders together in Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Singapore to identify sustainable solutions in support of regional economic growth and global competitiveness.
Ongoing engagement, discussion and research – such as the partnership between J.P. Morgan and Singapore Management University to undertake a labour market insight study – are aimed at helping to close the skills gap and improve workforce readiness across ASEAN and the wider Asia Pacific region.