Industry collaboration is essential for skills delivery and meeting future workforce needs. It could prove fruitful for providers to begin utilising workforce development data from industry, as harnessing this information and transforming it into useful intelligence could provide greater direction to future skills providers. Industry representatives ought to be encouraged to accept that the development of a skilled workforce is a shared responsibility, as well as to recognise the link between a skilled workforce and returns on investment. It is in everyone’s interest to adequately prepare populations for a more demanding workplace, and collaboration between education and industry is essential to make a real impact.
Looking to the future, the ASEAN region can represent a crucible for change as economic forces drive up demand and the need for upskilled workers continues to grow. Workforces across ASEAN are growing exponentially; in Vietnam, for example, in the coming years the Vietnamese workforce will need 9.7 million additional jobs, increasing the workforce demand in the country from 53.4-63.1 million. To meet this demand, there are several factors that the education sector could consider when developing their skills and training programmes.
- A need to utilise tailored approaches to provide opportunities to those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabilities, in addition to female and ‘harder to reach’ students. Accessibility and equitable opportunities must be centred.
- Considering the context of social norms in ASEAN while developing plans for the future of education. For example, in Cambodia, of 1000 students only 550 will finish primary school, 430 will finish secondary school, and only 270 will go on to further education. For many, the choice to go to TVET or vocational training is not about education, it is about economic opportunities.
- Parents’ lack of support for TVET was flagged as an issue. In the Philippines, it was suggested that a rebrand of TVET image was necessary to encourage parents of the merits of the programme. Showing pay scales to prospective parents to monetise competencies was explored as a potential avenue to build trust.
- Social context varies by country, for example in Brunei, despite significant demand for agriculture, people prefer to work in offices and do not want to return to agricultural practices. This may limit the number of students interested in learning related vocational skills and could be considered in the development of specified training courses.
- Public awareness and perception are generally in need of improvement across ASEAN regions. Suggestions included a focus on quality assurance to build up a positive image, enhance the capacity of TVET lecturers, and connect employers into conversations and partnerships.