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Low skilled workers need guidelines

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 23 August 2016 - ASEAN state members recognized on Monday the need to set up guidelines for recruiting the low- and medium-skilled workers who make up the bulk of the labor force in the region.

There is, however, no reference to be used for recruiting such workers, National Profession Standardization Agency (BNSP) head Sumarna Abdurahman said Monday.

“Considering that most of the workers in the ASEAN countries are actually located on the medium- and low-skilled level, [...] last year we initiated the concept of ASEAN guiding principles for quality assurance and recognition of competency certification systems,” Sumarna told an ASEAN meeting on labor force standardization.

He expected the guidance could be used later on by ASEAN member states to discuss and communicate over the possible mobility of medium- and low-skilled workers.

Sumarna said there were nine levels of competency for workers, of which the lowest two are graduates from senior high schools and vocational high schools, followed by levels 3, 4 and 5 who are graduates from polytechnics. Those graduating from universities are assigned levels 6, 7, 8 and 9.

The principle consultant of the ASEAN guiding principles, Andrea Bateman, said that they could basically be used as a reference to recognize people’s competence and skills to ease the free movement of workers in the region.

“The real problem faced by each economy in recognizing individual competence and skills is the absence of guidelines that can be used as a reference for such cross-acknowledgement needs,” Bateman said when introducing the guidelines.

Without the existence of such guidelines and a certification system, it is anticipated that there would be many issues potentially encountered by all economies related to human resource development, such as human resource recruitment and competence or skill standards, she added.

The ASEAN Secretariat, meanwhile, has endorsed the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) that functions as a device to enable comparisons of qualifications across ASEAN member states. It addresses education and training sectors and the wider objective of promoting lifelong learning.

Nurul Imlati, from the services and investment division of the ASEAN Secretariat, explained that as of today Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand had expressed interest in being the pilot countries to reference their national qualification framework to AQRF.

“Further discussion about that among the four countries will be conducted in the near future this year, maybe in November,” Nurul told The Jakarta Post.

Currently, a number of skilled workers — accountants, architects, dentists, doctors, engineers, nurses, surveyors and tourism workers — are already able to move freely among ASEAN member states to create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive single market in the region.

However, they need to meet requirements set in the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) to be able to do so.

The MRA states, for example, that an Indonesian architect can apply for a job in Thailand if he has an architectural qualification, possesses a valid professional registration from the country of origin and has acquired a practical and diversified experience of not less than 10 years of continuous practice in architecture after graduation, of which at least two years he or she must have been in charge of significant architectural works. (vny)


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