The Colombo Plan Staff College, represented by the Director General Dr. Mohammad Naim Yaakub, participated in the Regional TVET Conference titled “Ensuring TVET Quality-Preparing for AEC 2015” held at Shangri-la Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia from April 1-2, 2014. This conference was hosted by the government of Indonesia through the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Ministry of Industry, National Development and Planning Agency and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The conference was graced by high-level participants from various educational and government institutions in ASEAN and Germany, as well as 300 policy makers, technical experts and practitioners from the public and private sector. The conference had been built upon the success of the first regional-wide TVET conference held in Hanoi, Vietnam in October 2012.

In anticipation of the planned economic integration of the ASEAN nations by 2015, the conference aimed to provide a platform for the high-level delegates to share and learn good practices and experiences that will further improve the provision of TVET services in the region. Furthermore, issues such as fostering cooperation with the business community in improving the demand orientation of TVET, and harmonization of the standards and certification of TVET programs and mechanisms to measure TVET quality were tackled. The conference also laid down an opportunity to forward recommendations that will raise the quality and responsiveness of TVET in order to strengthen its contribution to the planned regional integration processes.

Dr. Naim participated in the panel discussion covering issues on “Moving towards ASEAN 2015 – Current Status of Integration” where the ASEAN integration process was highlighted. Along with Dr. Naim, other esteemed TVET experts from across the region also took part in this panel discussion namely: Ir. Abdul Wahab Bangkona, M.Sc. (Secretary General, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration of the Republic of Indonesia), Mr. Anangga W. Roosdiono (Managing Partner, Roosdiono & Partners) and Mr. Nguyen Ky-Anh (Assistant Director/Head of Culture and Information Division of The ASEAN Secretariat).

Dr.Naim has the following insights with regards to the issues raised:

  1. On TVET Addressing the Challenges in the Human Resources Development in the Region: The ASEAN Integration process will aid in addressing local challenges in TVET because this process will enhance the current existing platform for learning and sharing of knowledge. Opportunities to introduce significant TVET improvements such as the development of Labor Market Information Systems (LMIS) and the conduct of regional programs that will promote better linkages between the stakeholders in TVET. A more effective mechanism for information and experience sharing will flourish in a system that promotes unity and integration of countries in the region, as seen in the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
  2. On AEC providing solutions to pressing regional issues in TVET: The launch of the ASEAN Economic Community will encourage a review of the immediate regional needs as far as human resources development is concerned. To address common TVET concerns in the region, a harmony between the local, national and regional policies through the adoption of a regional standard for quality should be in place. Despite the variety of economic systems, the AEC 2015 is will provide TVET more ways to unite key stakeholders in developing coherent plans that will encompass common concerns in terms of economic and social development.
  3. On enhancing TVET quality in the region: The Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) is an example where a regional standard for TVET quality is adopted and implemented among TVET institutions. An adoption of the regional qualifications framework similar to the European Qualifications Framework, an outcome-based education and training and a regional commitment towards quality assurance can be potential areas for TVET policymakers to explore in strengthening TVET in the region.
  4. On the role of the private sector: The AEC 2015 will enable a more accessible market for raw materials and goods within the region, a much mobile workforce and an easier operation of businesses due to the reduction of requirements. However, problems such as increased competition among industries and a reduction of protectionism can hamper the benefits of this planned initiative if partnerships among industries/private sectors and TVET are not fully explored. There is a need for a more participative role between these two sectors in terms of policymaking through a shared vision and a transparent planning implementation to fully capitalize on the benefits of AEC integration.
  5. On the lack of established legal frameworks for AEC: The lack of a single regulator in the AEC like the EU should be addressed through the development of a legal infrastructure. There is also a need to address the “within difference” among the member states in parallel with their “in-between differences”. The impending integration should also ensure that the national interests among states are protected and their economic rights guaranteed in a level playing field.

Aside from the conference discussions additional events such as visits to selected TVET schools around Jakarta and exhibitions were conducted with the goal of showcasing practical examples of labor market-oriented TVET. It is also seen that the participation and contribution of other ASEAN members and countries in the region to this conference will be a significant and momentous event towards the anticipated integration of ASEAN economies in 2015.

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