Realizing the potential of Asian countries to transform their economies by tapping the potential of educated and well-trained young workers and improving their productivity while capitalizing on the improvements on technology and a more globalized society, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC) jointly organized an International Forum on the Current Priorities in Technical Education and Training at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines from December 1 to 2, 2015.
Set in the context of changing economies, adaptive technologies and a new post-2015 global agenda for the development, the international conference tapped the expertise of international experts, leading practitioners, policy makers, TVET service providers and stakeholders who imparted updates on TVT policy, plans and best practices that are currently being implemented in the region. The conference also tackled different initiatives being done to support the post-2015 global development agenda, where it urged developing nations to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical skills, for employment and entrepreneurship.
CPSC facilitated the participation of 13 representatives from some of its member countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand in addition to the representatives from Cambodia and Uzbekistan. Overall, the conference was attended by 137 representatives, speakers and experts coming from different fields of expertise.
The conference was opened by Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President for Operations of ADB. He cited the relevance of this conference to the current global scenario of human resources development, and wishes the success of the conference in further spreading best practices and current priorities of TVET in the region.
Prof. Dr. G. Kulanthaivel, representing CPSC, discussed current initiatives done by CPSC to raise the quality of TVET institutions in the region, particularly the role of the Asia-Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC). His presentation centered on the objectives and processes of APACC and its aspiration for a smooth workforce mobility and exchange among the CPSC member countries.
Topics tackled during the conference include, but not limited to, the following themes: (1) perspectives on skilled workforces, (2) quality and responsiveness of TVET to meet the global challenges in the economic and social sense, (3) ICTs in TVET, (4) Unpacking modalities in TVET financing, (5) Integrating TVET in Secondary Schools, (6) Equal gender participation in TVET, (7) Public-Private partnerships in TVET, and other related areas. The conference also included four interactive sessions called the "innovation marketplace" in which four stations were established to encourage the participants to contribute their own ideas to the policy initiatives proposed at each station. These stations include: skills via virtual reality, funding employment outcomes, transition from course into a job and encouraging women into training.
The conference was closed by Mr. Stephen Groff, Vice President 2 for operations. Mr. Brajesh Panth, the Technical Advisor for Education identified the conference as a "success", given that it had gathered important delegates to learn and talk about the issues affecting TVET in the region. In particular, he also thanked the speakers for imparting their expertise and inspiring the delegates to create innovative solutions to propagate the benefits of TVET to its intended market. He also identified some of the highlights of the conference such as the "Uberization" of the workforce which "reflects that young people are responsible at a certain degree of their own careers and are not expecting lifelong jobs". He also identified the areas that policymakers need to focus on such as: (1) economic inclusivity and change, (2) demographic shifts, (3) technological trends and changes not only in ICT but also in training, (4) climate change, (5) better case for government investment in TVET, (6) building bridges and developing relationships with the private sector and (7) bringing TVET to all sectors.