Skilled Labour Mobility in Southeast Asia Key to Development

Date Publish: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Skilled Labour Mobility in Southeast Asia Key to Development: IOM - Southeast Asia is on the move. Of the estimated 9.85 million migrants in the region, almost seven million originate from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN.)

This intra-regional movement of migrants is expected to increase with closer economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) established in 2015. The AEC aims to turn ASEAN into a regional trading bloc of over 622 million people and the world’s seventh largest market valued at USD 2.6 trillion. An estimated 14 million jobs are expected to be created as a result.

But while the AEC blueprint includes provisions for human capital development, progress toward freer skilled mobility has been hampered by various barriers from a lack of mutual skill recognition to the limited availability of market information on labour demand and supply.

As an initial step, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is partnering with the current ASEAN Chair, the Philippines, to organize a two-day capacity building workshop for ASEAN member state officials on referencing and quality assurance processes for foreign workers’ qualifications.

The event, which will take place in Manila October 16-17, will strengthen the capacity of member states to implement the ASEAN Guiding Principles for Quality Assurance and Recognition of Competency Certification Systems.

“Closer economic integration means greater interdependence between ASEAN member states. The region stands to gain substantially by adopting a more comprehensive approach to facilitating skilled labour mobility, which can help address gaps and promote regional competitiveness and development,” said IOM Director for Asia and the Pacific Dr. Nenette Motus.

"This workshop is a welcome opportunity for us to look into the assessment and certification system with the ASEAN member states using the ASEAN Guiding Principles. With ASEAN integration, we are expecting an increased mobility and exchange of labor within the region. (Mutual) recognition of skills and competency is becoming ever more imperative,” said Sec. Guiling A. Mamondiong, Director General of the Philippines’ Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA.)

The workshop is part an IOM Development Fund-supported project: Strengthening Capacity on Skills Recognition, Recruitment and Labour Migration Information in Support of ASEAN Integration. The project is designed to support the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 in the realization of a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible ASEAN.

Other project initiatives in the pipeline include capacity building on quality assurance and accreditation of foreign workers’ skills and qualifications; support to the development of a user-friendly online labour migration information sharing mechanism; and the mapping of existing recruitment channels and support mechanisms.

These activities will enhance the capacity of ASEAN member state officials to manage and share labour market information, contribute to the development of mutually accepted skills recognition and quality assurance practices and standards, and increase access to gender-sensitive migration services for migrants.

For more information please contact Joshua Hart at IOM Thailand, Tel: +66 2 343 9341, Email: