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AEC offers high-skilled jobs, says ILO, ADB

The Jakarta Post, 21 August 2014 - The implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 will boost employment and improve the livelihoods of the region’s 600 million or so population, according to a recent study.

Indonesia, as the ASEAN member with the largest workforce, will benefit from the economic integration, according to the study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which was published on Wednesday.

The study, ASEAN Community 2015: Managing integration for better jobs and shared prosperity, predicted that demand for high-skilled workers would increase following regional integration.

The ADB’s regional economic integration director, Arjun Goswami, said the AEC would see a freer flow of skilled labor, services, investment and goods among the 10 ASEAN member states.

“The AEC may accelerate economic growth and structural change, as well as double productivity in some ASEAN economies,” he said during the report’s presentation in Jakarta.

According to the report, high-skilled jobs are projected to grow by 41 percent or 14 million, while medium-skilled jobs by 22 percent or 38 million and low-skilled ones by 24 percent or 12 million.

Moreover, the report predicts that skills shortages and mismatches are likely to worsen, due to the low quality and lack of availability of education and training. Consequently, more than half of the high-skilled jobs available in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam would be filled by low-skilled, unqualified workers.

“Member states need to decisively manage these indications in order to counter the problem,” Goswami said.

Sukti Dasgupta, head of the ILO’s regional economic and social analysis unit for Asia Pacific, said Indonesia’s current government had made a lot of effort in the economy and social protection for the medium term, which could help the country’s large and predominantly young workforce to increase its productivity.

ILO Indonesia country director Peter van Rooij added that he was very optimistic about Indonesia’s potential within the AEC, based on the new administration’s approach to bridge itself with the current government via a transition team, even though some challenges could present themselves before the AEC came into being.

During his speech, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar acknowledged that 45 percent of Indonesia’s 118 million or so workforce was productive, albeit possessing low skills and education.


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