Investing in Workers and Firms as Learning Centres for Industrial Upgrading
Investing in workers and firms as learning centres for industrial upgrading is important for economic, social, and cultural development in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. The critical question is how best to impart learning and training of relevant skills in a rapidly changing and dynamic global environment. A collective approach of the government, firms, and workers as major stakeholders holds the key to this issue. This must be done proactively and should involve active participation by the stakeholders on a lifelong and sustained basis. Special programmes must be established for small and medium enterprises as they face structural constraints, including learning and training processes. Indeed, some ASEAN Member States (AMSs) have developed an effective and workable system for investing in workers and in firms for economic restructuring and industrial upgrading. In this context, AMSs should seriously consider publicly funded workers' training and upgrading through various empirically tested schemes, initiated and supported regionally. For example, an ASEAN Academy for human resource development and an ASEAN Labour Exchange initiative could be established for skills training and upgrading and as a platform for region-wide recognition of industries and firms with outstanding performance in investment in workers and firms as learning centres for industrial upgrading.