With rapidly changing skills demands as a result of the fourth industrial revolution, coupled with the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work in Southeast Asia is facing an unprecedented crisis, especially when it comes to ensuring decent employment and smooth transitions from one job to another. The pandemic alone has resulted in severe employment and income losses, with young people, women and other vulnerable workers hit hardest.
Fortunately, a rebound is now on the horizon. This gives a window of opportunity for policy responses to support a human-centred recovery, helping transition towards a technologically-advanced, more inclusive and greener economy. Yet without a skilled and trained workforce, this transformation might not be feasible.
Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations along with educational institutions have shown great interest in promoting lifelong learning, prioritizing policies and strategies that support reskilling, upskilling and continual education of the workforce. Additionally, support for greater access and participation of vulnerable groups in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development systems can make a huge contribution to the recovery and transformation process.
As a result, the need for regional dialogue and knowledge sharing on lifelong learning and adaptation of TVET and higher education to the changing labour market is more critical than ever.
The South-East Asia Skills Forum, organized by the ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity in South-East Asia Programme, in collaboration with the International Training Centre of the ILO, on 29-30 March 2022, will promote regional dialogue and collaboration among policymakers, representatives of employers and workers, academia and civil society at large in the development of effective policies and strategies for improving lifelong learning and skills development systems.
The event will delve into the existing challenges and lessons learned over the past year regarding the promotion of an innovative, more inclusive and greener transition that can create millions of jobs in the region. It will also shed light on future skills needs as well as mechanisms and initiatives needed to upgrade workers’ skills and build a more resilient workforce.