Skill development

Lifelong learning vital for workers and businesses to navigate Asia's skills landscape evolution

Skills experts from across Asia make case for continuous learning in order to keep ahead of momentous changes taking place in workplaces.

Press release | Bangkok, Thailand | 18 December 2023
Skills training needs to keep pace with developments in technology and digitization. © ILO
BANGKOK (ILO News) - The 3rd ILO-Korea TVET Forum has concluded with a call for lifelong learning to become a reality for workers across Asia to address the continuous need for reskilling and upskilling in a rapidly changing world of work.

Taking place in Bangkok from 7-8 December 2024, the Forum was the third in a series bringing together government, employer and worker representatives from ASEAN that the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been leading on the theme of skills and the future of work since 2016.

The Forum saw skills specialists and experts from over 15 countries discuss progress in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills system reform to help guide future policy development in the region. It was co-hosted by the ILO, the Ministry of Employment and Labour of the Republic of Korea and KOREATECH.

Speaking at the event, Srinivas Reddy, Chief of ILO’s Skills and Employability Branch said, “There is a clear indication amongst participants that they want to pay attention to lifelong learning. Continuous reskilling and upskilling are vital to address changes from climate change, digitalisation and even demographic shifts. I think the main take away is to continuously empower people to acquire new skills,” he said.

Dr Kil Sang Yoo, President of KOREATECH also highlighted the evolving skills environment. “Each country faces skills challenges that we must look at. The ways of working are changing rapidly. It is important to develop systems so we can provide opportunities to catch up on the new skills needed,” he said.

During the Forum a wide range of issues were covered with strong emphasis on the challenges and opportunities posed by digitalization and Artificial Intelligence as well as inclusion and the transition to green jobs.

Korean agencies and training institutions working in the area of employment and skills development shared their experiences and expertise during the sessions. Professor Moon Su Lee Dean of Online Life Long Education Institute of KOREATECH explained how skills training relating to emerging technologies were of great interest to the countries participating.

“They have traditional industries, so they already have the skills content for them, but they are very interested to learn about the emerging technologies like AI and big data,” he said.

Datuk Shahul Dawood, Chief Executive of Malaysia’s Human Resource Development Corporation echoed the sentiments on the need for continuous learning to keep pace with the changes in technology.

“With the continuous changes in technology, learning pattens and the workforce, the future of learning will be very different. People are concerned that technology will take away jobs, I strongly believe it won’t and that more jobs will be available but only as long as you continue to upskill or reskill. When have continuous learning you can keep pace with technology. When you stop learning you will be left behind,” he said.

Amongst the participants were representatives of workers and employers organizations who brought their perspectives to the discussions.

Mack Moey, Director of Corporate Learning centre or the Singapore National Employers Federation highlighted the importance of engagement with industry to ensure that TVET is kept relevant and that trainees can transition into the workforce.

“We cannot have education and schools going in one direction without knowing what businesses want,” he said. “In Singapore, companies which have engaged people in a work study programme have good things to say and have better retention. People involved in this journey stay with the company a lot longer and have the opportunity to integrate into company culture,” Mr Moey added.

The Forum also introduced ILO’s new international labour standard on quality apprenticeship which provides a clear definition of apprenticeships and specifies aspirational standards for quality apprenticeships, including rights and protection for apprentices.

The importance of bringing together a diverse array of skills experts in the Forum was clear.

“It’s been really beneficial,” said Dr Hye Kyung Jung from KOREATECH. “With different countries, perspectives and skills at the event we can share common ideas to develop TVET. Formal education is hard to adapt rapidly to meet the needs of companies, but TVET or vocational training can change in a short period of time. It offers the lifelong learning that workers and industries need.”
3rd ILO-Korea TVET Forum: Skills Development for an Inclusive Future for Asia and the Pacific Region. © ILO