The ASEAN region is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world and is forecasted to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2030. With a total population of almost 700 million people and around 33 percent of them are the young generation, the young workforce, and mobility of skilled labor are significant key drivers of the region’s economic growth. People mobility substantially becomes one of the five strategic areas to implement the Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 as ASEAN envisions achieving a seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated region that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of community.
The number of migrant workers has largely increased over recent decades. Countries with net migrant inflows are Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, and net outflows are Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The intra-ASEAN labor mobility is concentrated within specific migration corridors: Malaysia to Singapore, Indonesia to Malaysia, and the CLMV countries to Thailand. Despite the robust migrant flows, it has been largely predominated by middle-skilled and low-skilled occupations. According to a 2016 survey by International Labour Organization, Enterprises in ASEAN value technical knowledge, teamwork, and communication as the most important skills among workers. Strategic thinking, problem-solving and foreign language skills, technical knowledge, and soft skills (which includes creativity and innovation) are reportedly among the most difficult to find. This encourages some ASEAN countries to rapidly develop their human capital and workforce skills. Vietnam, for example, encourages the dispatch of high-skilled workers with professional and technical skills for overseas employment in some foreign labor markets.
Given the supply side of the labor market, graduates who had student intra-regional mobility experiences gain an extra edge in their careers. The international exposure enabled them to develop communication skills, language proficiency, cross-cultural competence, and interpersonal skills, as well as enhanced professional opportunities. However, equally essential factors for skilled labor employment are the precedence of job-specific skills, relevant qualifications, work experiences, the fit between candidates and organizational values, and candidates’ capacity to perform the actual job role. These all contribute to the workforce’s long-term employability.
This dynamic region is accelerating the pace of economic growth while making considerable efforts to enhance people-to-people connectivity, especially to advance the mobility of skilled labor in ASEAN. Without leaving anyone behind, ASEAN affirms its mission to foster a more competitive, inclusive, resilient, and people-oriented region, and strives to be a community of opportunities for all.
https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/517601/skilled-labor-mobility-migration-asean.pdf https://asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/investment-report-2023.pdf https://connectivity.asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/FINAL-Digital-Version-V1_221108_Graduate-Employibility-in-ASEAN.pdf