Partnering for Skills Development in East Asia and the Pacific

October 30, 2017


East Asia and the Pacific countries are among the fastest growing economies in the world. Growth is particularly dynamic in the industry and service sectors. As countries’ economies become increasingly more developed, East Asia and the Pacific is confronted with critical skills challenges. 

Demand for more highly-skilled labor has been increasing, and across the region, there’s a growing need for employees with skills that range from socio-emotional and cross-cultural know-how to automation management and technology. Employers are voicing demand for technical and vocational skills in surveys and as a result, returns on secondary and tertiary education, as well as vocational and technical degrees, are growing. 

Recently, skills shortages and mismatches have become more prominent across countries in the region. This is further exacerbated by several demographic trends, such as aging populations and increasing migration within and across countries. In response, many East Asia Pacific countries are increasingly emphasizing skills development and job creation in their respective economic development plans.  


The World Bank Group is working with East Asia Pacific partner countries to:

  • Provide advice for policies that support skills development throughout a person’s lifecycle, taking changing economic needs into account;
  • Convene experts and decision makers to discuss best practices and trends within the region; and
  • Support projects and programs that bolster education, social protection, and jobs.

In partnership with the Korean Ministry of Labor and the Human Resources Development Service of Korea, the World Bank Group is managing the Promoting Skills and Job Creation in East Asia program, which aims to promote skills development and job creation in the region. Partner countries in this program include Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The program incorporates best practices from Korea and other countries in and outside of the East Asia Pacific region.


Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility-funded Skills and Job Creation Program

The Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility-funded Skills and Job Creation Program has the ultimate aim of building skills and the capacity to create jobs for ongoing development across East Asia Pacific. It supports a variety of learning events, skills exchanges, and annual forums to advocate for, and share best practices on, accelerating the creation of a critical mass of highly skilled young professionals and innovators in East Asia Pacific. 

It aims to:

  1. Support the development of a skilled labor force by focusing on the continuum of skills from foundational skills throughout the lifecycle – from early childhood development to upper secondary/technical/vocational training as well as higher and continuing education, scientific research and innovation;
  2. Target socio-emotional and noncognitive skills development along with continued Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and lifelong learning opportunities for specific priority sectors;
  3. Promote strategic partnerships between governments, business and partner countries from other regions to support enhanced skills development in East Asia Pacific;
  4. Strengthen mechanisms that promote regional collaboration between institutions and in specific programs and areas within skills development;
  5. Strengthen skills development systems and institutions through improved policies, systems, standards and mechanisms to assure quality and relevance; to monitor progress and to ensure focus on labor market results; and
  6. Enable the systematic sharing of knowledge and experience within and between East Asia and Pacific countries in building capacity for skills development throughout the program’s entire lifecycle.


Outputs from 2014-2017

1. National Quality Framework and Competency Standards (NQFs): Skills Promotion and Job Creation in East Asia and Pacific (Full report; Country-level NQF survey results: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, MongoliaMyanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam)

This report brings together research undertaken in 12 East Asia Pacific countries that responded to a survey focusing on how and to what extent TVET provision is quality-assured and to what extent NQFs exist in each country. The survey drilled down to reveal the barriers and issues facing implementation of quality assurance strategies.

2. Philippines DTS IE: The Impact of On-the- job Training on Employment and Earnings Dual Training System in the Philippines (Study under review)

3. Financing TVET in the East Asia and Pacific Region: Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities (Full report; Summary report)

4. Case studies of excellent TVET institutions

The World Bank Group’s East Asia and Pacific Education team embarked on an in-depth study of “Excellent Institutions”. The purpose of this study is to provide policymakers with empirical evidence that can be used to develop new policies that direct schools towards more market-responsive and demand-driven approaches.

5. 2015 and 2016 ASEAN forums

The first ASEAN+3 Forum on “Skills, Standards, and Qualifications Frameworks” (see Forum Agenda here) was held in Incheon, Republic of Korea on April 14-16,2015. The Forum was jointly organized by the World Bank Group, Korea’s Human Resources Development Agency (HRD) and by the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor.

The second ASEAN+3 Forum on “TVET Financing and Dual Training Systems in EAP” (see Forum Agenda here) was held in May of 2016 in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in collaboration with the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor and HRD Korea.

The third ASEAN+3 Forum on "Enhancing Job Creation and Skills to Prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" (see Forum Agenda here) was in Seoul, Republic of Korea on November 7-9, 2017, in collaboration with the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor and HRD Korea.

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