High quality human resources still remain a hurdle

09:37 | 15/09/2014
Following the conclusion of the 6th Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation human resource development meeting in Hanoi on September 6, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh told VIR’s Thanh Tung some priorities for the bloc’s member economies to boost co-operation in human resources development.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh

What are APEC’s biggest priorities in terms of social security to support the bloc’s inclusive and sustainable growth?

The 6th Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation human resource development meeting focused on supporting inclusive and sustainable growth to address the social dimensions of globalisation, including equality and needs of vulnerable groups, enhancing human resource quality to meet supply chain demands, and facilitating labour mobility and skills development.

Regarding social security to support APEC’s inclusive and sustainable growth, there is a need to develop an inclusive social security system, with incentives to attract the participation of the private sector. This is to effectively ensure people’s social security and reduce hunger and poverty in APEC member economies.

It is also necessary to improve labour safety, hygiene and healthcare. Furthermore, in order to maximise the benefit of labour mobility and further protect workers, we need to provide more social security for migrant labourers like social insurance, unemployment insurance and health insurance. Other social services must also be considered as crucial in human resource development of APEC member economies.

Women’ role in workforce must also be promoted in the labour market and in organisations representing employees and employers, and in people’s communities as well as in households. It is very necessary to remove prejudice and discrimination against women as this issue still exists in some APEC member economies.

What should the economies do to improve the quality of their workforce?

APEC member economies have different levels of quality in terms of their workforces and ability to participate in supply chains. Thus there must be a shared action plan to boost the improvement of human resources to meet APEC’s basic target of trade facilitation and liberalisation, investment attraction and tourism development, which will further economic growth among APEC member economies.

The action plan should be focused on improving legal frameworks, including making regional and national agreements on people-to-people connectivity. There must also be incentives on strengthening the link of regional production chains to take advantage of comparative advantages to boost demand for high-quality workers.

More investment is also needed in education systems which will positively affect supply chains. Also, the labour market’s policy effectiveness must also be improved and labour mobility must be boosted.

In order to implement this action plan, APEC’s political commitment and financial resources would play a decisive role. Regarding the commitment, the 21st APEC Summit  in 2013 saw leaders agree to improve supply chain quality by 10 per cent in 2015, and on facilitating travel within the region and supporting developing economies in joining global supply chains. As for financial resources, APEC member economies have also adopted many new solutions, including the establishment of the APEC fund on connectivity acceleration.

One of APEC’s prime targets at this meeting is to find solutions to improve human resources, and to facilitate labour mobility among APEC member economies. This issue has been thoroughly discussed with different development levels of economies taken into account.

Each economy has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of their workforce. Thus it has become a shared issue for all APEC economies. This region’s biggest challenge is that its labour quality remains at a medium or low level compared to the rest of the world. Each economy would need to improve its own workforce to improve its competitiveness. For example in Vietnam, this issue is a huge challenge as the country is restructuring its economy. One of Vietnam’s most valuable assets is its people, and improving labour quality has become one of the government’s top priorities in the current economic restructuring process.

What priorities should APEC have to boost labour mobility among its member economies?

APEC needs to assess its training demands and skill deficiencies, while outlining strategies on employment plans and supplying training and re-training services for the future.

Additionally, the sectors, professions and types of skilled workers needed by the member economies must be specified. Standards for professions must be harmonised, while national vocational skills must also be improved.

I think in the future, training standards among APEC member economies should also be mutually recognised, so qualifications are recognised in different member states. This will make it easier for people to move to another country to find employment.

Many APEC member economies are going to face aging populations. Was this issue discussed at the meeting?

An aging population is one of the reasons behind the imbalance in the labour market. Thus there must be more social security policies favouring the old. A great number of old people currently continue to work in APEC member countries. The inflow of labour into economies with aging population is also a common practice, and economies should have policies to support migrant workers.

 Vietnam is experiencing a ‘golden population’ structure, with about 90 million people including more than 22 million school students and over one million teachers. However it has been forecasted that over the next 20-30 years, Vietnam will face an aging population. Therefore the government is paying great attention to this issue via improving its population policy.

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