ILO Meeting Addresses Lifelong Learning and Skills Development in Asia

A meeting on Lifelong Learning in Asia and the Pacific, focusing on innovative policies and programs that promote life cycle approaches to learning and skills development, is being organized by the ILO.

Press release | BANGKOK | 02 December 2003

Bangkok (ILO News) – In the face of rapid skills obsolescence and an ever increasing demand for higher skilled workers, representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations from 15 countries in Asia and the Pacific1 gather in Bangkok on 8-10 December to promote lifelong learning initiatives and develop workforce knowledge and skills in response to changes in the labour market.

The meeting on Lifelong Learning in Asia and the Pacific, organized by the International Labour Office (ILO), will focus on innovative policies and programs that promote life cycle approaches to learning and skills development.

In many countries, education and training policies attach increasing importance to “basic skills” (European Union) or “critical enabling skills” (Singapore) that are needed in order to perform satisfactorily at work and in society, irrespective of a worker’s country of origin.

In some countries in Asia and the Pacific, lifelong learning initiatives made considerable progress over the last years, says a report prepared for the meeting.2 In the Republic of Korea, the number of people participating in the country’s Vocational Ability Development Programme (VADP) grew by 60 per cent between 1999 and 2001. And in Singapore 33 per cent of residents aged 15-64 were engaged in some form of job-related structured training in 2000.

Statistics show a disproportionate share of more skilled people participating in adult education and learning, which is interpreted as evidence of unequal access and considered unfair. The existing learning divide runs the danger of becoming wider, as access to lifelong learning opportunities and technologies, particularly in terms of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), is unequally distributed.

The International Labour Office (ILO) stresses a two-pronged approach to education, training and lifelong learning. The first, associated with efficiency, addresses the challenge of developing knowledge and skills necessary for competition in an increasingly integrated global economy.

The second envisions education, training and lifelong learning as ways to address the growing vulnerability of many populations groups, including women, young people and low-skilled workers who through their lack of education and skills have become poor or run the danger of falling into the poverty gap.

Venue: Amari Watergate Hotel, 847 Petchburi Road , Bangkok

Pre-arranged interview slots may be organized with:

Nieves R. Confesor, Dean, The Asian Institute of Management (AIM)

A regional perspective on lifelong learning.

Trevor Riordan, ILO IFP/SKILLS

Overview, international perspectives, ILO’s work on knowledge and skills development.

Dr Jack Keating, Melbourne University
Recognition and certification of knowledge and skills gained outside formal training systems.

1 Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

2 Lifelong learning in Asia and the Pacific : Policies and Practice, ILO, Bangkok 2003; the report can be downloaded.