New qualifications and competencies in the Asia-Pacific

A technologically advancing world of work and growing demand for green jobs in the Asia-Pacific are fuelling demand for new qualifications and competencies in TVET

Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other innovations stemming from the Fourth Industrial Revolution are driving changes in a range of sectors and industries across the Asia-Pacific, from automotive, garment and electronics manufacturing to business processes, logistics and healthcare. While these innovations can generate myriad benefits for businesses and society – for example, improved industrial productivity, efficiency and even product safety – countries need to take appropriate actions to capitalize on these opportunities. (UNDP 2018)

74% of TVET experts responding to a 2021 BILT scoping survey identified digitalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the prime drivers of TVET reforms in the Asia-Pacific, while just under 50% identified the SDGs and governmental commitments to the green agenda as one of the major drivers for TVET reforms demanding new qualifications and competencies. (BILT scoping study of current TVET trends in the Asia-Pacific carried out in 2021)

Greater use of technology in the workplace across the Asia-Pacific has increased employer demand for workers with the ability to operate, maintain and apply new technologies, with skills related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and with generic and soft skills such as communication, problem-solving and team work – in addition to specific technical or vocational skills. (ILO 2018)

75% of employers across four Asia-Pacific countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines) surveyed in 2021 reported a growth in demand for new hires with digital skills over the past five years. (ADB 2022)

While the Asia-Pacific also experienced a 30% rise in hiring for green jobs between 2016 and 2021, the region’s high-income countries (Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) were responsible for most of this growth, and the region’s increase in hiring for green jobs was lower than that of the USA (70%) and Europe (41%). (LinkedIn 2022)

On the other hand, demand for green jobs seems to be much higher among Asia-Pacific youth aged 15-39 – 77% of whom said in 2021 that they aspire to get a job in the green economy over the next 10 years – than among their counterparts in Europe (57%) or the USA (52%). (Accenture 2021)

In a world reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are seeking to hire candidates with specialized skill sets instead of paper qualifications. This was a trend that we were already seeing before the pandemic, but today, skills are becoming even more important. (LinkedIn 2021)

Asia-Pacific countries need to develop effective policies and strategies to quickly identify, integrate and implement new qualifications and competencies in TVET

A 2018 UNDP/Economist Intelligence Unit report concluded that, to respond effectively to the opportunities and challenges arising from rapid technological change, Asia-Pacific TVET systems need to identify which skills are in deficit at a regional as well as national level and then deliver these skills using a practical work-integrated learning model, which combines classroom-based theoretical learning with practical hands-on experience. (UNDP 2018)

TVET stakeholders attending regional meetings, such as the ILO‘s 16th Asia and Pacific Regional Meeting in 2016, have identified key elements that constitute an effective skills strategy for improving Asia-Pacific TVET systems’ responsiveness to the opportunities and challenges arising from rapid technological change. These include: the importance of anticipating skills demand as the basis for adjusting skills provision in line with labour market needs; greater employer engagement, with industry taking an active role in skills development and TVET; improving quality-assurance mechanisms for qualifications, assessment and certification; and widening access to training for disadvantaged groups. (ILO 2018)

BILT survey respondents identified 'information and communication' as the main sector where new TVET qualifications and competencies are needed in the Asia-Pacific.

  • With more than 1.2 billion people online at the end of 2021 and with 5G commercially available in 14 countries in the region, the Asia-Pacific is poised to embrace technology-enabled, digital learning systems that offer flexible, job-ready, employment-oriented and entrepreneurial skills matching 21st century demands. (GSMA 2022)
  • Over one-half of the world’s internet users reside in the Asia-Pacific. (InternetWorldStats 2022)
  • However, internet usage rates differ across the region, ranging from more than 90% in the most advanced economies to less than 15% in the least developed economies. (ITU 2021)
  • Other sectors identified by BILT respondents as presenting high demand for new TVET qualifications and competencies in the Asia-Pacific were manufacturing; education; agriculture, forestry and fishing; and construction. (BILT scoping study of current TVET trends in the Asia-Pacific carried out in 2021)

The BILT project is implemented by

International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training

with support of

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

and sponsored by

Federal Ministry of Education and Reserve

UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre

for Technical and Vocational Education and Training

UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1

53113 Bonn, Germany


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